Wu-Tang Clan (formed 1992)
Wu-Tang Clan is an American hip hop group consisting of RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and Ol' Dirty Bastard.
Wu-Tang Clan: Formation
Wu-Tang Clan formed in Staten Island with RZA as the main leader and producer.
They were named after the film 'Shaolin and Wu Tang' which became a loose theme for their debut album.
They gained underground popularity with their debut single 'Protect Ya Neck' in 1993 but struggled to get signed due to the fact that the members still wanted to pursue solo careers.
They were finally signed with Loud/RCA records.
Wu-Tang Clan: Musical career
Wu-Tang Clan released their debut album 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)' in 1993 and it became hugely successful.
The members almost immediately broke off into their own solo projects starting with RZA who created the side project Gravediggaz with Prince Paul, Frukwan and Poetic, releasing their first album, '6 Feet Deep', in 1994. RZA also produced Method Man's first solo album 'Tical' that same year.
Ol' Dirty Bastard released his debut solo venture 'Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version' in 1995 which was soon followed by Raekwon's 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...' and GZA's 'Liquid Swords'.
Ghostface Killah released his album, 'Ironman', in 1996. That year the group was on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, 'America Is Dying Slowly' released to raise awareness of AIDS.
Wu-Tang Clan released their Grammy-nominated second album 'Wu-Tang Forever' in 1997 which opened at number one in the US.
Between 1999 and 2000, they worked on their solo projects again. RZA released 'Bobby Digital In Stereo', Method Man released 'Tical 2000: Judgement Day' and 'Blackout!', GZA had 'Beneath the Surface', Ol' Dirty Bastard came out with 'Nigga Please', U-God released 'Golden Arms Redemption', Raekwon unveiled 'Immobilarity', Ghostface Killah unleashed 'Supreme Clientele' and Inspectah Deck released 'Uncontrolled Substance'.
Despite the albums being mostly well-received, critics began to tire of the constant wave of material that was being released.
In 2000, they released 'The W' without Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was in prison. However, he did feature on 'Conditioner' with Snoop Dogg and some of his vocals were recorded over the phone.
Their single 'Gravel Pit' became a hit, and the album was certified double platinum.
Ol' Dirty Bastard escaped custody for the album release party but soon left fearing re-arrest. A week later he was re-arrested after signing autographs in McDonald's.
In 2001, they released 'Iron Flag' and Method Man embarked on an acting career appearing in the comedy 'How High'.
In 2004, U-God quit and released the DVD 'Rise of a Fallen Soldier' detailing reasons why including that RZA treated him badly. They did, however, reconcile and he rejoined the group.
Ol' Dirty Bastard was infamous for his criminal behaviour and was arrested for assault, shoplifting and drug possession to name but a few offenses. In 2001, he was sentenced to two to four years in prison.
In 2004, he collapsed and died at a recording studio prior to a reunion concert.
In 2009, his album 'A Son Unique' was released commemorating the 5th anniversary of his death.
In 2005, RZA released his book 'The Wu-Tang Manual', U-God released second album 'Mr. Xcitement' and GZA collaborated with DJ Muggs for 'Grandmasters'.
In 2006, Ghostface Killah released 'Fishscale' featuring the rest of the group in the song '9 Milli Bros'. Inspectah Deck also released an album that year called 'The Resident Patient', Masta Killa released 'Made in Brooklyn' and Method Man came out with '4:21... the Day After'.
Ghostface Killah released another album, 'The Big Doe Rehab', in 2007 but was upset that the group's next album '8 Diagrams' initially had the same release date before being pushed back to a later date.
In 2008, RZA released his album 'Digi Snacks' while GZA released 'Pro Tools'.
2009 proved to be another busy year with Raekwon unveiling his album 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II' after several delays, U-God releasing third solo album 'Dopium', Ghostface debuting his 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' and RZA's 'Wu-Tang Chamber Music' featuring soul band The Revelations.
In 2010, a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang album was released featuring mainly Ghostface Killah, Method Man and Raekwon and entitled 'Wu-Massacre'.
In 2008, they signed a deal with music company The Orchard to release their entire back catalogue worldwide digitally. Their documentary 'Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan' was also released directed by Gerald K. Barclay.
In 2009, a documentary on Ol' Dirty Bastard called 'Dirty: The Official ODB Biography' was released.
In 2011, Raekwon announced a new studio album was in the making, but its release seemed unlikely initially. However, they later announced that the album entitled 'A Better Tomorrow' would come out in 2013 during their 20th anniversary.
Throughout their career, Wu-Tang have been involved in various controversies involving the likes of 50 Cent, G-Unit, The Notorious B.I.G., Sean Combs, Mase and Joe Budden.
Wu-Tang Clan: Other career ventures
Wu-Tang Clan have appeared in various films and TV shows. Films they've appeared in include 1999's 'Black and White', 2003's 'Scary Movie 3' and 'Coffee and Cigarettes' while TV shows include 'Chappelle's Show' and 'The Larry Sanders Show'. Individually, they have appeared in various other movies and TV shows.
In 1995, a clothing line was released called Wu Wear.