Wu-Tang Clan is perhaps the most influential hip-hop group ever, I really can’t name another group that has such a large/cult following in the history of rap. Besides having a world wide (I mean spanning possibly all the continents) reach, the clan practically spawned a truckload of Wu-Tang Clan affiliates, crews and whatnot.
At this point, as fans we felt it was only right to provide y’all with an insight on our Top 10 Wu-Tang Clan associated acts that have made some type of impact. To assist us we have the one and only Zilla Rocca who was benevolent enough to share his wealth of knowledge and thoughts on this issue. Read through the list, and if you agree or disagree drop us a tweet or a comment!
Zilla Rocca: Killah Priest’s entire career is built off GZA giving him an entire solo record on “Liquid Swords”. That’s incredible when you think about it. Priest followed up that look with the Sunz of Man debut and then his debut “Heavy Mental”. There will never be a major label album that sounds like “Heavy Mental”. Again, it sounded very mystic, tribal, and scientific. Some of the songs blew my brain to bits, some made me uncomfortable. I would just stare at that album cover and pour through the liner notes while it was on. Priest really benefitted from that time when we didn’t have as many looks and pieces of media for an artist — we just had an album, a video or 2, and a few interviews. The rest was up to you and the record to fill in the blanks. I didn’t like most of his records after “Heavy Mental”, but Priest will pop up out of nowhere on joints with Nas or Ghost or GZA and merk shit.
Teck-Zilla: Yeah, that ‘B.I.B.L.E’ joint really set things in motion but his features on the Gravediggaz’s first album(that project still gives me the creeps till today) was insane. I must say he is one of the more consistent Wu affiliates as he has been able to keep dropping albums after albums(Priesthood was a fav’ of mine) and a plethora of collaborations throughout the years. He was just able to break out and stand on his own with or without the clan but I’m glad he’s back in the fold now judging from his recent work on most of original clan member’s solo work and compilations. A solid top contender if I do say so myself.
La The Darkman
Zilla Rocca: La the Darkman was to Wu kinda like how Cam’ron was to Roc-a-fella — he aligned with them at their height, milked them for their affiliation and retail strength, then bounced! “Heist of the Century” is a minor classic hip hop album, and definitely a top shelf classic in terms of Wu affiliates. His voice is incredible. He blammed up all of his cameos on Deck’s album, DJ Muggs’ album, Tony Touch’s mixtapes, “Beneath the Surface”, Ghost Dog soundtrack. And then just like that -finger snap- he was GONE! Off partnering with DJ Drama and Don Cannon during the height of Gangsta Grillz. It’s pretty puzzling in a way how he totally dipped off anything Wu related in the mid 2000’s and never looked back. But La’s output was quality when he was in the mix with the Clan.
Teck-Zilla: lol at the Cam’ron comparison though, I have to agree on that. I actually first heard him on Muggs album and the Wu remix of Davina’s ‘So Good’ and I had no clue he was Wu affiliated but anyways I really,really loved his debut. It was so raw,dense and well rounded as he covered a lotta topics but his mafioso raps easily gets him thrown into that gangsta stiche but homey dropped a lotta jewels. I dunno why he left the clan though but his work during the gangsta grillz era wasn’t bad,wasn’t great either but at least he gave us Willie the kid.
Sunz Of Man
Zilla Rocca: Sunz of Man I think gave the original Clan the closest run in terms of groups. Their first album is really great — they weren’t getting the leftover scraps. RZA, True Master, and 4th Disciple were cooking up SMACKS for them. ODB, Meth, Rae, U-God, and Masta Killa were on the album but they didn’t stunt hard on Sunz. Killah Priest was the unofficial front man, but Hell Razah was the guy to watch. I always felt like Hell Razah was a more coherent, educated version of Jay Electronica. Prodigal Sunn never did it for me, and I only like 60 Second Assassin in small doses, but all of those guys had their own style. They were intelligent without being overbearing. And they had this mystic vibe about them that I never felt from any other Wu affiliate. Let’s just pretend the corny Wyclef single never happened.
Teck-Zilla : I totally agree they definitely had that cohesiveness as a group, different styles and themes which was engaging enough not to be boring. I did notice that Killah Priest had less mic time on the debut than expected and after digesting said album I just couldn’t fathom how they did that record with Wyclef or how it actually fits with the rest of the project(I must confess I actually liked the song at the time) but with that being said, they were the more consistent group affiliates to the WU.
Zilla Rocca: Killarmy’s first album really made me feel uncomfortable. I used to listen to it on tape in high school, taking the bus and train everyday. They brought another chamber into the infastructure — war and militarism. It was very much their own world, with 4th Disciple putting in WORK on that album! They were out of Ohio — like Wu Syndicate, they took the blueprints from east coast rap, but the vibe was very insular. The news reports and movie clips from “Full Metal Jacket” pulled me into their world through my teenaged headphones. Killa Sin was the star — he was like a little bit of Rae, a little bit of Ghost. I think he’s one of their cousins. Islord is like their Cappa/ODB – a true wildcard. 9th Prince is RZA’s brother. PR Terrorist was on that super lyrical shit. Shogun Assasin was like Masta Killa. Beretta 9 somehow became RZA’s righthand man for minute during the Bobby Digital run. If they had a superstar like Meth, they would’ve been bigger. Their first album “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” is a total CLASSIC! After that, the quality dipped on each project. But they were really unique within the Wu universe.
Teck-Zilla: True that, they actually had a theme and were damn good at sticking to it. It was a whole new field compared to the WU. Without a doubt the debut was dope, it offered something untapped at the time, military themes mixed with NOI references and then some. I kinda felt they were engineered like the WU sans a breakout star even though Killa Sin kills every verse. While we could argue about dip in quality,I feel times changed by the time they dropped Fear,Love and War(which had maybe a handful of dope cuts).
Zilla Rocca: Shyhiem, I can’t lie — I never got into him like that. I had a few random singles by him from his first two albums. The joint I used to bang the most was “Furious Anger” with Big L. And the joint off his second album “Young Godz” was really dope. I remember him more for acting in the “Waterfalls” video for TLC and that flick with Jim Brown and all the ’70s blaxploitation stars “Original Gangsters”. Something about Shy just never clicked with me, which is weird cause anything with the Wu logo or affiliation got snatched up during that time.
Teck-Zilla: Actually found him quite enigmatic largely because of the huge age gap between him and the rest of the Wu members and he rhymed like a grown ass man. His early singles(Shaolin style, 1 for the money) were pretty cool not really ground breaking but still different for someone his age at the time. I felt he could have been a breakout star though, something just went wrong(inner beefs etc I presume) at the time and he kinda totally left his acting career in the bin. Never the less he definitely put in mad work as a WU affiliate.
Zilla Rocca: I remember them popping up on the first Swarm album on that joint “Where Was Heaven”. They had a video for it that got solid airplay on Rap City. About a year later, their album popped up. It was weird timing, ’cause Wu’s chokehold on the industry was slipping, and they were doing the mafioso shit still. But Myalansky and Joe Mafia were a dope pairing. Joe Mafia reminded me of Nature. Mylansky had a very clear delivery — he sounded like he was from Queens, but I think they both were from VA. Their album had that NYC gangster cinematic feel that was big at the time — Big Pun and Terror Squad had similiar sonics on their albums. “Weary Eyes” was my SHIT! Had the ill chipmunk soul sample technique. Another one of their joints had the same sample as “2 Dope Boyz in a Cadillac”, but I gave them a pass cause they kinda ripped it. Yeah man, Wu Syndicate were realllllly dope. I don’t recall many duos from the Wu foundation. Wish these guys got more shine.
Teck-Zilla : I totally concur, my older bro actually put me on that track back in the day. Their whole style definitely had that NY feel to it and it took me a while to realize that they were VA natives. These cats are definitely overlooked in my opinion. A strong debut and their lyrical skills were impeccable(if I may use that term) lol.
As you said the debut had mad joints yo, like the song Young Brothers(2 dope boys sample) and Latunza hit are still my faves.
Zilla Rocca: I LOVE this guy’s voice. It’s pure power. He was definitely under utilized within the Wu hierarchy. I remember hearing about Royal Fam way before I ever heard them on a song or an album. My favorite TImbo King moment was on the “Soul in the Hole” soundtrack — he starts rapping normally, then halfway through, he gets HYPE about his basketball skills! Wu weren’t really big on sports beyond a reference here and there, but Timbo made me feel like he was shitting on me live at a playground with that one! And his cameo in “Ghost Dog” was ill where he was spitting in the cypher over “Ice Cream”! I gotta check his later stuff with Black Market Militia and Nature Sounds now.
Teck-Zilla: Word, glad you pointed out the “under utilization” of this cat. His name was thrown around a lot in the Wu circles but I think he dropped 2 albums or something and that’s it. Uncannily I just finished watching Soul in the Hole flick some days ago and it brought back memories of the Wu dominated era. You should also peep the cut he did with RA the rugged man yo. Sick stuff
War Cloud aka Holocaust (formerly of Black knightz)
Zilla Rocca: War Cloud aka Holocaust. I feel like he was Wu’s answer to Canibus, who was buzzing like CRAZY at the time. Back in ’97-’98, you could be wordy as shit and have people in love with you! They used the second Killarmy as a run way for him to model his shit. And of course the Bobby Digital song that was named after him. “War Cloud” is of a weird name – it sounds like a Native American member of Killarmy. But how far could you go with a name like Holocaust? I remember just replaying his verse from the Bobby Digital album over and over again, trying to memorize every word of it. I remember seeing him in the video for that joint. He looked a little bit like K-Solo. He was another guy not from New York (a California guy I believe) that the Wu brought into the fold. RZA was really savvy about recruiting guys from all over the world. It was like how X-Men had Excalibur in UK, along with Alpha Flight in Canada.
Teck-Zilla: It’s funny how I was going to tie in War Cloud to Killa Army’s Dirty Weaponry. No question this cat is an absolute beast with the pen and yeah he’s a Cali dude. He has that off kilter, WTF is he thinking imagery in his raps. One line that gets me is “Half dead platoon leader, but woken by enemy heaters/Juggernot, on the block, lash shots at armed retreaters”. By then the Wu had members from practically every continent but I think his former group were the first west coast affiliates if I’m not mistaken. Don’t know anything about his solo output but definitely a strong contender.
Zilla Rocca: I was apprehensive first about Tekitha, when they slipped her in the video for Ghost’s “All That I Got is You”, like RZA was trying to outsmart me by replacing Mary J. Blige with this girl. But she won me over on the Soul in the Hole joint and on this joint “Mantis” from the first Bobby Digital album. And of course she bodied “Impossible” on Wu-Tang Forever. I remember getting really excited for her debut around the time of the Ghost Dog Soundtrack cause RZA had her on the Bobby Womack flip for “Walking Through the Darkness”, and he was talking about her album being this incredible melding of 70’s soul and new hip hop. And it never came out. RZA was weird with vocalists — he would find some chick you’ve never heard of, put her on everything for 2-3 years, then dump her for another one (Blue Raspberry, Jamie Summers). I wish they’d bring her back in the mix.
Teck-Zilla: I reckon Mary wasn’t keen on appearing in rapper’s videos(word to Jigga) back then. Once again I actually thought she and Blue raspberry were one and the same(my bad) but anyways all I can say is her vocals are amazing and she had some type of opera thing she does that makes her really stand out from the rest of the vocalists you mentioned. Sad her debut didn’t go as planned but I did get my hands on her unreleased material and I must say it is dope, a mix of 70s, 90s boom bap hip-hop and of course that Wu element for good measure. She didn’t quite reach the pinnacle that I expected but still Uber talented and somewhat properly utilised if I do say so myself.
Zilla Rocca: You have to appreciate a guy like Street Life. He’s the Memph Bleek to Method Man’s Jay-Z. You don’t understand how hard it is for any rapper with breath in his lungs to know his role and play that. Rap is built around ego and pride, right or wrong, so when a man shows restraint and loyalty to his superstar rappin’ friend (and Meth has always been a superstar), you have to give him respect. I think Street was always rewarded for this attitude: he had memorable moments on Tical, Wu-Tang Forever, Tical 2000, Uncontrolled Substance. These are all gold and platinum albums and he had multiple appearances, even though Wu-Tang has approximately 98,498 rappers to choose from for any given song. Street Life was like the David Wesley type of rapper – unspectacular dude stylistically who was always overachieving and surrounded by winners. The downside of being someone’s right hand man is that you never really get lots of attention, but you get to have a longterm career. And Street still pops up — he was on the joint with Meth and Freddie Gibbs on the “Man With the Iron Fists” soundtrack.
Teck-Zilla: Reality bites though,I reckon Streetlife is the go-to guy for Meth at the time and I used to confuse him with Carlton Fisk(or is it Fist??) who played a similar role as well. Remember they both had mad features on Tical. Like you said his style is typical, I won’t outrightly call it weak but it just didn’t break new grounds but he played the role well and probably got a ton of dough doing it haha. I definitely need a friend like Meth.
Honorable mentions: Blue Raspberry, Bronze Nazareth, 12 O’Clock, Trumaster.
So there you have it, this is our list in no particular order. Do you beg to differ or agree?
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