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The Wu-Tang Manual:
Enter the 36 Chambers, Volume One
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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’sintellectual 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:

§         RZA

§         GZA

§         ODB

§         Method Man

§         Ghostface Killah

§         Raekwon

§         U-God

§         Inspectah Deck

§         Masta Killa


Book II breaks down nine key themes of the Wu-Tang universe:

  • Spirituality: the spiritual journey through the Bible to Greek Mythology to Five Percent Nation to Ch’an Buddhism to a holistic spirituality.
  • Martial Arts: from a fascination with kung fu movies up through a serious study of martial arts Eastern spirituality.
  • Capitalism: from the now-famous original record deals that allowed the Clan to record together and as solo artists through the Clan’s later diversification, including Wu-Tang Records, Wu-Wear, the Shaolin Style Playstation, and more.
  • Comics: the influence of comic book heroes on hip-hop and Wu-Tang, including specific discussions of the bestselling Nine Rings of Wu-Tang comic books and Bobby Digital.
  • Chess: the importance of chess to Wu-Tang both as a game and as a multi-sided metaphor.
  • Organized Crime: Wu-Tang’s personal, cinematic, and structural affinities with the Mafia.

§         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.

  • Chemistry: brief history, anecdotes, and information about Wu-Tang Clan’s experimentation, and how it has influenced their music.
  • Slang: a dictionary-like compendium of Wu-slang.


Book III provides the lyrics and densely annotated explanations of nine Wu-Tang songs:

§         “Protect Ya Neck”

§         “Bring Da Ruckus”

§         “C.R.E.A.M.”

§         “Triumph”

§         “Hellz Wind Staff”

§         “Impossible”

§         “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)”

§         “Uzi (Pinky Ring)”

§         “Rules”


And in Book IV, RZA discusses the art and craft of hip-hop as it relates to Wu-Tang:

  • Wu-Tang Samples: RZA’s unique, groundbreaking approach to sampling
  • Technology: history of key technological components RZA and the Clan had to master to make their music what they wanted it to be.
  • The Spirituality of Producing: what goes into producing Wu-Tang’s music and what it has meant to the RZA.
  • Voices as Instruments: how the nine members of Wu-Tang Clan function like a symphony, with each member playing an instrumental role
  • The Art of Rhyme: a discussion of Wu-Tang lyric-writing, with key contributions from GZA and U-God.
  • Live Performances: a brief history of the importance and the sensibility of Wu-Tang performances, up through their recent show in Los Angeles.
  • The Way of the Abbot: RZA on his role at the center of the Wu-Tang Clan
  • Wuman Resources: the career management behind the Wu-Tang Clan and the solo careers of the individual members
  • The Saga Continues: The future of 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 RZA is “the Abbott” The Wu-Tang Clan, the platinum-selling hip-hop group whose nine members have also released a number of platinum-selling solo albums. RZA is famous as a producer, rapper, and lyricist, and also for his recent working scoring movies—notably Kill Bill.



by The RZA

Riverhead Trade Paperback Original; February 2005; $16.00

ISBN: 1-59448-018-4

Visit us on the web at www.penguin.com or www.riverheadbooks.com


Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Berkley Books, Dutton, Frederick Warne, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Grosset & Dunlap, New American Library, Penguin, Philomel, Riverhead Books and Viking, among others. The Penguin Group is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.







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