November marks the 25th anniversary of the debut release Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers from hip-hop legends the Wu-Tang Clan. Bursting onto the scene in 1993 with a hardcore sound that mixed Far East kung-fu and mysticism with New York hip-hop lyricism to create something the world have never heard before. The crew of creators for The Culture was/is deep and diverse so no matter what kind of style you like, there’s a memeber of the Wu for you. And even thought they’re all necessary and all come together to form Voltron, we still gotta rank them so let’s get it!
*There are numerous Wu affiliates, honorary, and side members so the criteria to make this list is limited to those were on the cover of the Wu-Tange Forever album (sorry Capadonna).
9. MASTA KILLA
The almost forgotten member despite being a top-flight lyricist and being featured on many of the other member’s solo projects. Unfortunately he’s only been on one song from the original two Wu-Tang Clan album releases (C.R.E.A.M.) so outta sight, outta mind.
Another victim of the numbers game. U-God is one of the more unique members vocally and in his rhyming cadence but he just wasn’t on enough of the classic Wu bangers.
7. INSPECTAH DECK
First things first, the Rebel INS in a great MC. He has verses on many of the biggest Wu records including C.R.E.A.M. and Protect Ya Neck and in most other rap collectives would be the man but being #7 on this list is a testament to just how talented and deep the Wu-Tanf Clan really is as the rest of the members on the list have just a bit more of that “it” factor.
The Chef is a lot of your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper yet he’s still somewhat underrated. His catalog speaks for itself though. Only Built For Cuban Linx is a certified rap classic and arguably the best Wu solo album. He has verses on too many hits to list and his legendary collabs with his partner-in-rhyme Ghostface Killah are simply undeniable.
5. GHOSTFACE KILLAH
And speaking of Tony Starks…This is where things get tough. You can make a very strong, very legitimate argument that GFK is a top 10 MC of all-tine with a flow, swagger, and way with words virtually unmatched in hip-hop. But this ain’t a best MC list it’s a best Wu-Tang Clan member list. And while Ghost is great with great verses and a great solo album to his name, here, he’s #5.
The real sleeper of the crew, the GZA has quietly been as consistent and dope as any other member lyrically and catalog wise. Plus he has the best verse on the best song (Protect Ya Neck), on the best Wu album (Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers). And that alone will get you into the top 4.
3. METHOD MAN
Mr. Meth is probably the most transcendent member of the group. He was the only member to get a solo song on Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. He was the first to drop a solo album (Tical in 1994). And he has the most famous solo record (All I Need). He’s found success in a second group with Redman and branched out into movies and television. Lyrically gifted with style and swagger to match which is good enough for the #3 spot on our list.
The most charismatic, captivating, and confusing member of the Clan. Not to mention the heart and soul of the collective. If Only Built For Cuban Linx is the best Wu solo album, Brooklyn Zoo is a close second. He repped the Wu so hard that he pulled a Kanye way before Kanye, interrupting an acceptance speech at the Grammys and declaring “Wu-Tang is for the children!” Despite his tragic and far too early passing, ODB is quintessential Wu-Tang.
The creator, the architect, the producer, the head coach. It was with The RZA’s vision and guidance that the Wu was able to not only change the sound of hip-hop but also how business is done. Merchandising, branding, endorsements, separate record deals, etc. The RZA is criminally underrated and under appreciated but make no mistake, he has had a major impact on the past, present, and future of hip-hop. And because of that he is the #1 member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Hit us up on twitter @CFTCulture and let us know how perfect our list is. 😉
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Written by @TalentedMrFord