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U-Tang Group Disclosure – Spin


The U-Tang group seems to have existed forever, and the rise of their fame is certainly well documented.

Among the autobiographies of group members (RZA’s) U-Tang Manual and U’s Tao, U-God Raw, Buddha Sannyasi ODB dirty version, Raekwon’s From the stairs to the stage) And documentary (of Showtime) U-Tang Group: Mike and the men And Hulu’s U-Tang: An American Saga) It can be assumed that every angle of the lineage story has been examined. Epic From Shaolin Road: U-Tang Saga (Hatchet Books) proves that it is definitely not.

(Credit: Alice Arnold)

Billed as “the most three-dimensional portrait of U-Tang to date”, the inaugural book was the work of SH Fernando, a golden age hip-hop journalist, Clan’s most legendary studio session, video shoot and random hangouts for several real deals. The thing is, but best of all, Fernando even voiced the character in the interlude of some classic Woo albums – a serious qualification for group fans.

Including unpublished interviews and first person anecdotes, From the streets of ShaolinIts unique draw includes a close look at Greenhouse Kung Fu Flick that defines the crew’s creative world, their fascinating insights into the impenetrable world of slang and, above all, the deep dive into Wu Canon’s most respected album. From exploring samples of each RZA beat, to how they were made, and with what tools, Fernando Holly unveiled the type of Grail Secret that manufacturers and fans have been waiting for for decades.

Spin: Old martial arts films have played an epic role in the names, songs, and album titles of many U-Tang group members. How did the team’s fascination with all this start?
SH Fernando: RZA was a huge fan of Flick, so much so that he and Dirty, like little kids, about nine or 10, would skip school and screen them frequently at the Slyzy Theater in Times Square. Then in the early 80’s, Channel 5 in New York City would play Kung Fu films in their “Drive-in Movie Series” which aired on Saturday afternoon – it was almost like a passing show for kids growing up in New York. These films and their themes resonated especially among the black and Hispanic communities, so it was only natural that RZA and the company would return to them for inspiration along with their names.

Ason, for example, got his name from the movie Unique Old Dirty and The Bastard, Where the main character was this old drunken monk who was good at kung fu. Ghostface Killa is one of the worst villains in the movie The Mystery of Chess Boxing, And Dennis Coles (aka Tony Starkes) was that representative on the streets of Shaolin (Staten Island). There was even a movie that had an alternative title Method man, And Masta Killa The big one had an alternative title, 36 chambers of Shaolin, Which pays homage to U’s first album. All of these names relate to each person’s personality traits, and it was roughly RZA that gave the boys this moniker.

You have made a great comparison between RZA and Thelonius monk in the book, which RZA actually sampled. Could you detail that?

This is a picture of the U-Tang group.  From the cover of the book Streets of ShaolinThe monk was regarded as one of the pioneers and inventors of the Bebup, and his style was strongly influenced by the conflict of inconsistencies. Similarly, RZA has introduced an inconsistent element in such hip-hop. His beats weren’t always “un-beaten” because they weren’t quantified or programmed into a metronome, and he really did play with sound as a musical instrument. Basically, he was teaching our ears something new, and he always had an element of a track that was wonderful.

[RZA] The monk had a huge fan base and looked really tough for the 1988 documentary Straight no hunter, Which is about the monk. And you can see the effect of RZA’s early work where he used a lot of piano reefs that he played himself. So, not only did he sample the monk, but he was inspired to become a musician by seeing the monk, who truly proved that it had no rules. RZA has applied the same concept to hip-hop.

Can you touch on the Islamic five percent lifestyle and how much it has influenced U-Tang in music and personally?
Coinciding with the rise of hip-hop, from their heyday in the 70’s and 80’s, the Nation of Gods and Earth had a huge impact on hip-hop. Many hip-hop scandals, such as “bomb”, “show and evidence”, “word bond” and the use of “peace” as salutations, came from five percent. I compare it to the influence of rastafarianism on reggae music. It provided a kind of spiritual foundation that made music more than just entertainment.

The whole idea of ​​thinking of oneself as God was so strong in the first place, and all the U-Tang members took it to heart. It helped them personally deal with the trials and tribulations of ghetto life. When you become a young black man you grow up disadvantaged and the whole world seems to pile up against you, “your own knowledge”, as they call it, makes you the creator of your own destiny and not just the victim of the situation.

This is a picture of the U-Tang group.  SH Fernando and Method Man
Author SH Fernando with Method Man, November 1994 (Credit: Skiz Fernando)

Which of the craziest scandals have you encountered while being around a group – has it ever reached the point of “what are these guys talking about”?
When I first encountered U-Tang, I was completely unfamiliar with the highest math and the highest alphabet of five percent, so much of what they were saying went straight over my head. Especially if they don’t want you to understand what they are saying they will be scattered in five percent lingo. For example, the ghost says on a track, “I was going to get my culture cipher.” Well, what is a culture cipher? At most math, culture is four, and the cipher is zero, so it would be “40” which means a 40-ounce beer. Her favorite brand is usually Olde English 800.

At the time, I actually went to the former God School in Harlem, which was the old Five Percent headquarters. I told a guy in a wheelchair sitting outside that I was interested in joining so I could decode some of their slander. The old man got up from his wheelchair, went to what I thought was an abandoned building, and returned with a cassette. He gave it to me and said mysteriously, “Memorize everything on this tape first and then come back and I’ll give you more.” The tape has become part of a five percent higher knowledge lesson that begins with a section called Real Facts, which includes information on how far the earth is from the sun and things like that.

I finally learned about Supreme Mathematics and the Supreme Alphabet, and both opened up a whole new world as far as deciphering could go. [Wu’s] Understand the lyrics and what they are saying. Plus, these guys were masters of all slander, however; You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.

Many people who have spent time with “destructive” rock stars like Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain have reported feeling overwhelmed by the inevitable devastation. Have you ever felt this way around the Old Dirty Bastard?

This is a picture of the U-Tang group.  Old Dirty Bastard Mural
A mural of the Old Dirty Bastard at Bedford-Stuivasant in Brooklyn

I used to get dirty on the streets in the early days because I lived in Brooklyn and he was always close to the community. He was always so low and funny that people liked him. But like most people I had no idea he had a substance abuse problem. I just thought he was a unique, independent person – which he was – but, I think once fame allowed him to get into drugs easily and he developed a habit that became a serious problem. It really happened step by step and didn’t have to go down that way. Anywhere along the line, he could have been saved from the end, so he’s really a warning story.

A large number of people from U-Tang music and business organizations are actually related, probably more than any other professional music camp. U family across all the extended branches of the tree, how many relatives are there?
Well, the core of the group has always been RZA and its two cousins, GZA and ODB. GZA’s mother and RZA’s mother are related – I believe cousins ​​- and RZA’s grandmother, mother, ODB’s father’s sister, so ODB and RZA’s mother was actually the first cousin. Then you have Popa U, who is the great cousin of ODB next to his mother. After all, it takes on a complex shape because all these boys have huge extended families and cousins ​​are considered more like brothers and sisters. RZA itself has 10 siblings and her older brother Divine has been running U-Tang Management since the beginning.

Then, in addition to blood relations, mothers of members of your group have known each other for a long time by being on many projects. The ghost would go out with one of RZ’s sisters and have at least one child with her. So, the connections are deep, but that’s why this crew is so tight. No matter how much they fight, at the end of the day they will always be family. So, U-Tang is really forever.





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