This past Saturday (November 9) was the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, undoubtedly one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time and the launching pad for nine of Shaolin’s finest. Grounded by RZA’s sample-heavy and dirty production (as well as his drive to make the business side work), the Wu-Tang movement took a ramshackle collection of up-and-coming MCs and morphed them into Kung fu-fighting, sword-wielding, fire-spitting phenoms, sent by the Abbot to assassinate all rappers who stood in their way.
But 20 years is a long time, and the Clan has gone through their ups and downs along the way, not least of which has happened in the past year. As the 20th anniversary of the album came closer, a summer reunion tour and the pressures of commemorating Enter The Wu-Tang with a new release grew, overshadowing and sometimes obscuring the love that each of the eight brothers [R.I.P. O.D.B.] has for each other. Though business, ego and musical direction disagreements have reared their heads along the way, each member of the Clan has stuck by one another personally, like the family they started out as. Over the past few months, XXL spoke with Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa [Ed. Note: RZA, GZA and Raekwon declined opportunities to be interviewed for this story] about their experiences making Enter The Wu-Tang, the recording process, and how it all feels after 20 years in the game. —Interviews by Dan Rys, B.J. Steiner, Reed Jackson, Dan Jackson and Jaeki Cho