Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bringing The Ruckus

I was never good at mathematics. I wasn't a bad student, I was actually quite capable and managed to pass all classes I took, that is, except for the numbers game. For some reason it never caught on and made me feel like a 4 foot point guard in Basketball. I just couldn't quite grab the ball.

However through hard work I started discovering the world of maths and due to a chance encounter in 1995 with a classmate, maths became my favourite subject. I used to sit at the back of the class close to the window so I could look out over the school field and see what the other Physical Education classes were up to. A guy named Matt always sat beside me and I think he had the same idea I did as the droll curriculum did not enthuse either of us. Matt always had his Walkman on during most classes and had rigged his headphones up so the cord went up his jersey, down his sleeve and held one ear piece in his hand and then lent on his desk with his hand up to his ear. A very ingenious idea and he never got caught.

It was during one of these classes that I asked Matt what he was listening to. He replied to me "Hip Hop". I asked "Who?" He said "The Wu-Tang Clan" - 36 Chambers. I never would of picked Matt for someone who listened to Chinese Music and was impressed at his worldly views. He then put the ear piece up to my ear and on that March day in 1995 my whole life changed forever.
Dramatic huh?!

I had only heard limited Hip Hop and apart from Public Enemy, Ice Cube and an emerging Bone Thugs n Harmony I was fairly new into the rap world ( There was also a small Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer affliction a few years earlier - Don't judge me ) This new sound was street, rugged and dirty. The vocals were grimy and the beats that held the rhymes together were unfamiliar but were intense and heavy. The play on the Martial Arts movies also appealed and I instantly became a fan.

I started listening to all things WU and the solo artists. GZA, RZA, Method ManRaekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah were all in my CD player. Nothing since NWA in the early 90's had really grabbed the youth of the day and created a following almost instantly as this. I wanted WU posters, WU wear, WU music. Hell, if they had WU paste, That is what I would of been brushing my teeth with. They were a bunch of guys who you told how it was on the street. New York Style. Completely different to NWA and the sound was like nothing I had ever heard of. I was sold. As your average white boy into urban hip hop ( remember Eminem was still at least 7 years away. ) it was hard to fit into the mould and it was not like you could walk down the street singing "Shame on a N****a or "Wu Tang Clan ain't nuthing ta F**k wit". I had brought a red and black WU jacket which I loved much to the disdain of my brother. He was not the biggest rap fan at the time and he did not approve of the jacket at all. We had many discussions that ended with both of us taking the piss out of each other.Him taking the piss out of me due to my musical appreciation and me taking the piss out of him because he loved Kenny Rogers. Go figure.

Wu Tang changed the music industry and turned the group into a business. It was one of the first of many and you saw happen almost over night with Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Enterprises, Jay Z a few years later with Rocafella and Surge Knight with Deathrow Records.

I already had a love for Cypress Hill ( which will forever last until the day I die ) Public Enemy and NWA so to add another band to the stable was easy for me to do as I felt they all went hand in hand.

But believe it or not it was The Wu Tang Clan that got me into 60's motown and 70's R&B. If it was not for them I would not have an appreciation for Gladys Knight & The Pips, Aretha Franklin, Theolonius Monk, The JB's, Hall & Oates ( No, really ) and Zapp. All these were sampled on that one album ( Enter The Wu Tang - 36 Chambers ) and that is the reason why my musical diversity flourished in the Hip Hop world. It was not because of the bands/groups/artists that I was listening to, It was the Bands/groups/artists that I was indirectly listening to. These were the foundations of Hip Hop and who these artists were influenced by. Now they were influencing a new generation.

GZA ( founding member of Wu Tang Clan ) released an album in 96' entitled Liquid Swords. This album without a doubt would be in my top 5 albums of all time. If anyone takes anything away from this blog, take this:

Listen to the album, listen to the words, listen to the beats.

Just listen. It may just change your life...................


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