7 Things You Might Not Know About Wu-Tang Clan

They’ve been bringing da ruckus for decades, but there are still a few surprises out there…

With a new documentary series – ‘Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men’ – dropping today, capturing the rise of one of hip-hop’s most seminal groups, and New York City just honouring them by renaming a part of Staten Island ‘Wu-Tang Clan District’, it’s fair to say the Wu are getting their props.

But despite being a cornerstone of hip-hop since the early ‘90s, there are still a few things you might not know about Wu-Tang Clan. These might be old news for the real die-hard fans out there, but for the rest of you, enjoy…

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#Wutang #ofmicsandmen Friday at 9pm on @showtime WuTangClan.net

A post shared by RZA (@rza) on

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GZA really is The Genius

His ‘Dark Matter’ album isn’t just a concept, and The Genius isn’t just a great nickname – GZA really is well-versed in quantum physics, and has even worked with physicists to comb out any inaccuracies or inconsistencies in his science-inspired music.

Fascinated with physics as a child, he has passionately pursued this interest in adulthood. In 2010, he spoke at Harvard University and since then has visited other institutions and met with high profiles scientists, even doing his own TEDTalk on the topic.

To improve science education for young people in New York’s public schools, GZA founded a program called Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming, Teaching and Learning Science). The initiative motivates young high school students – especially African-American and Latino students, who make up the majority of New York City’s student body – to learn science through hip-hop, creating scientific raps and engaging in a rap battles.

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Method Man is a bit of a gaming geek

The geekier side of Meth first became clear with the craze over SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs – a series of third-person tactical shooter video games on PlayStation – when a player called “ICU” emerged and started drawing other players' attention with his mad skills.

That great player was none other than Method Man himself.

Apparently you can still catch him under the name MethodManGWF on XBox Live, too, if you fancy trying your chances against him.

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They’re a bunch of animal-lovers

Many of the Wu are vegan or vegetarian, and very vocal about its benefits, namely RZA, GZA, Masta Killa., Method Man and Killah Priest.

GZA has spoken in the past about becoming vegetarian – "Well, I wasn't raised a vegetarian, I wish I was, though. I mean, that's really the best way to go. I just learned at a young age and stopped eating some things. As far as being a vegetarian it's a moral thing, a health thing, a conscious thing — a combination of all.” – while Killah Priest was talked into becoming a vegan by GZA.

RZA and Masta Killa are also PETA supporters and have participated in official PETA videos sharing their convictions. Bless their cotton socks.

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RZA trained with a real Shaolin Temple Monk

It’s been clear since the start that the Wu are heavily influenced by martial arts – just listen to the movie samples throughout ’36 Chambers, like the infamous En Garde! I’ll Let You Try My Wu-Tang Style!” from ‘80s film ‘Shaolin & Wu Tang’ – and even took their name from it, but for RZA especially, the love runs deeper than mere aesthetics.

As a young man RZA studied Chan Buddhism and self-taught martial arts through kung fu movies, but in the mid ‘90s he met Shi Yan Ming – a Shaolin Temple Monk from China – and a hobby became a way of life.

The de facto Wu leader started training with his martial arts master three days a week, and became one of Shaolin’s loudest spokespeople, taking its message into the community and writing extensively on the topic. “I sort of knew from my peoples in the urban community that I would be a good translator of the martial world,” he has said on the subject.

“But to see how it’s spreading to all the different media beyond just music like movies and television, I take it as a blessing. It doesn’t matter who delivers the message as long as it’s the right message. To see so many people appreciating martial arts is great because it increases the potential to makes this place a better world.”

Shi Yan Ming was a trailblazer in his own right too, defecting from his temple in China to settle in Manhattan, opening his own Stateside Shaolin Temple to propagate Shaolin teachings to the West.

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They’ve got over 70 nicknames between them

It’s not an exact science but according to the 'Wu-Tang Manual' book written by RZA, the Wu boast an impressive 70+ nicknames between them.

If you include Cappadonna (disputed by some, but confirmed by GZA as being a member in 2014) the grand total comes to 73, taking inspiration from comic books, martial art films, their hobbies and even their diets.

The member with the most nicknames? Method Man on a massive 15 aliases, closely followed by ODB (RIP) with 14.  

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RZA, GZA and ODB were in two groups together before Wu

The three cousins were originally FOI: Force of the Imperial Master. And though they were pretty well-received they never managed to get signed by a label.

In a move that would change hip-hop forever, the trio changed the name of their group to All In Together Now, eventually bringing in six more members and changed the group name once again to Wu-Tang Clan.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

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RZA co-fouded Gravediggaz

Horrorcore pioneers Gravediggaz started out as RZA's side project.

The Wu are famous for having a many and varied side hustles on the go, but Gravediggaz is unique in that it’s not very well known that one of the group's founding members is the de facto leader of Wu-Tang Clan, and that the group – melding hardcore hip hop, gangsta rap and heavy metal with horror elements – pioneered the niche subgenre of horrorcore.

What can we say – RZA is a man of many, many talents.

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