Wu-Tang Clan

The Best of the Best

Anyone that walks through Thievery’s copper clad doors, will know that hip hop is in our heart. Because we wanna share our love for the classic shit, we’ll be detailing some of our fave hip hop albums of all time.

Wu Tang Clan – 36 chambers

What it is: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is the debut studio album by the legendary American hip hop super group Wu-Tang Clan, released in 1993.

The group’s de facto leader RZA, also known as Prince Rakeem, produced the album entirely, utilising heavy, eerie beats and a sound largely based on martial-arts movie clips and soul music samples.

The distinctive sound of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) created a blueprint for hardcore hip hop during the 1990s and helped return New York City hip hop to national prominence. Its sound also became greatly influential in modern hip hop production, while the group members’ explicit, humorous, and free-associative lyrics have served as a template for many subsequent hip hop records. Serving as a landmark record in the era of hip hop known as the East Coast Renaissance, its influence helped lead the way for several other East Coast hip hop artists, including Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and Jay-Z.

What it’s about: The true meaning of the album’s title is not well known or understood. The density and complexity of the universe Wu Tang built for themselves was, remains today, and will forever be one of the most intriguing and elaborate that the hip hop game has ever seen. Many essays, books and documentaries have been written on the topic, but there is no conclusive evidence as to the exact meaning the clan was trying to portray.  Some possibilities include:

  • According to a Five Percent philosophy, known as the Supreme Mathematics, the number 9 means “to bring into existence,” and this meant everything to the group’s debut album.
  • The group was made of 9 members, each of whom had 4 chambers of the heart, which are 2 atria, and 2 ventricles.  And 9 x 4 = 36. Boom.
  • There could be some merit in the reference to the 1978 kung fu film The 36th Chamber of Shaolin that the group enjoyed watching, the Clan considered themselves as lyrical masters of the 36 chambers, and arrived onto the rap scene while appearing to be ahead, and more advanced than others, with “knowledge of 36 chambers of hip hop music when everyone else in hip hop was striving to attain the knowledge of 35 lessons.”
  • While the human body has 108 pressure points (1 + 0 + 8 = 9), only the Wu-Tang martial artists learned and understood that 36 of those pressure points are deadly (9 + 36 = 45) (4 + 5 = 9). The lyrics and rhymes of the 9 members are to be considered as 36 deadly lyrical techniques for pressure points.

However, all this is just a theory; the true significance of the title is not definitively known, which, in our opinion makes this album all the more significant.

Best lyric on the album:  ODB’s classic verse from “Protect Ya Neck”:

“First things first man, your fucking with the worst ill be sticking pins in your neck like a fucking nurse…”

Go check it out. If you don’t know, now you know.

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