Long awaited and much anticipated, THE WU-TANG MANUAL (Riverhead Freestyle Trade Paperback Original; February 2005; $16.00) is finally here. Delayed in the final stages of production by the tragic death of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, THE WU-TANG MANUAL — which has been referred to repeatedly on Wu-Tang albums, from “Bells of War” (Wu-Tang Forever) to GZA’s Liquid Swords— is RZA’s first written introduction to the philosophy and history of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Since the release of the revolutionary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the course of four seminal group albums and a multitude of ambitious side projects — the Wu-Tang Clan has constantly redefined what hip-hop can do and where hip-hop can go. Now, after a decade of dark beats and mysterious lyrics hinting at a larger whole, the RZA, the abbot of the legendary Staten Island hip-hop collective, fully reveals, for the first time, the complex, multilayered Wu-Tang Universe in THE WU-TANG MANUAL.
At the creative forefront of music for the past decade, the Wu-Tang Clan are hip-hop’s true artists, shrouded in a fascinating self-made mythology. Taking their name from a mythical kung-fu sword wielded by a congregation of invincible warriors, rechristening their native island after the legendary Shaolin, and performing under a variety of pseudonyms, the nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan have, from the start, surrounded their public identities with an elaborate Wu-Tang Mythology and Cosmology that forms the foundation for all their work. Written in a style that is at once personal and philosophical, THE WU-TANG MANUAL unravels the intricate web of personalities (and alter egos), warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty.
Packed with information that reflects the breadth and depth of the RZA’s — and rest of the Clan’s —intellectual interests and passions, THE WU-TANG MANUAL is divided into four books of nine chambers each, for a total of 36 chambers. All together, the book provides the breakdown of essential Wu-Tang components.
Book I provides basic information, backstory, and a complete list of alter egos for each of the nine core members of Wu-Tang Clan:
§ Method Man
§ Ghostface Killah
§ Inspectah Deck
§ Masta Killa
Book II breaks down nine key themes of the Wu-Tang universe:
§ Cinema: includes both kung-fu and mafia movies, but also the cinematic sound of Wu-Tang music, plus sections on key filmmakers John Woo, Jarmusch, and Tarantino.
Book III provides the lyrics and densely annotated explanations of nine Wu-Tang songs:
§ “Protect Ya Neck”
§ “Bring Da Ruckus”
§ “Hellz Wind Staff”
§ “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)”
§ “Uzi (Pinky Ring)”
And in Book IV, RZA discusses the art and craft of hip-hop as it relates to Wu-Tang:
Elegantly laid-out and richly printed, the book is designed to reflect the Asian influence on the Wu-Tang universe, which, as the book explains, began with a fascination with kung-fu movies but quickly led to serious study of martial arts and Eastern philosophy and spirituality. The Book also includes a map of Shaolin; a trove of never-before-seen photos of the Wu-Tang Clan, including shots of RZA’s trip to China with Sifu Shi Yan-Ming, live shots, and portraits-by Michael Lavine, Craig Wetherby, Sophia Chang, and Frank151; and original illustrations of many of the guiding lights of the Wu-Tang universe.
Before the death of ODB, the Wu-Tang Clan had recently played their first two group shows in years, one in Los Angeles and one in New York. They recently released a live album and DVD, Disciples of the 36 Chambers, and a Greatest Hits collection, Legend of the Wu-Tang Clan.
For the hardcore Wu-Tang disciple and the recent initiate alike, THE WU-TANG MANUAL is the definitive guide to the essence of Wu, one of the most innovative hip-hop groups of all time.
The saga continues…
THE WU-TANG MANUAL
by The RZA
Riverhead Trade Paperback Original; February 2005; $16.00
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