Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ranking the Wu

To build on an aside in the previous post, I thought I'd rank my favorite members of the Wu-Tang Clan from worst to first.

It was unbelievably tough to come up with a meaningful way to measure each member's contribution to the group. Por ejemplo, I think the RZA is one of the Wu's worst lyricists but he's also the de-facto head of the clan and the lead producer for "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)." So, do you rank him before or after Method Man?

Shame on a nigga. But I tried to do it anyway:

9. U-God - He "wasn't into all that Kung-Fu shit" and it sorta showed. No lyrical skills to speak of. His Wu impact was also limited by the fact that he was locked up for much of the making of the group's debut album.

8. Masta Killa - It was tough to think of a time when he stood out from the rest of the Clan. He really doesn't have a signature moment. Steady but certainly not spectacular.

7. Raekwon - "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" is one of my 20 favorite hip-hop albums. But often, I found myself wanting more substance from The Chef. In fact, sometimes his lyrics just bored me.

6. Inspectah Deck - Good lyricist, good producer and I also loved "Uncontrolled Substance." His verse on "Cream" - "handcuffed in back of a bus, forty of us, life as a shorty shouldn't be so rough" - was a classic hip-hop moment in its own right. But no one was going to Wu shows to see the Inspectah, dig?

5. GZA - You know the Genius had pull in the clan, given that he and Meth were the only two Wu members to have solo tracks on "Enter." You might argue that he was the best lyricist in the group. And I probably wouldn't mount much of a counterargument. But even John Stockon had to ride the bench on the Western Conference All-Star team, dig?

4. RZA - The leader, the producer and one of the group's weakest lyricists. But how can the RZA not be in the top half of the group's most influential members? No one reps the Clan more than Bobby Digital. Also, he was decent in "American Gangster."

3. Ghostface Killah - This is pure-dee bias here. Ghostface is probably my favorite member of the group. I think he's probably the second-best lyricist behind the GZA. He probably had the best, most thorough solo career. And what a character. C'mon. What about homeboy's Wonder Woman arm?

2. Ol' Dirty Bastard - RIP. Probably the most colorful character in hip hop outside of Busta Rhymes. Dirt McGirt was truly one of a kind. Really. His whole catalogue was a freestyle. And, man, I loved me some "Brooklyn Zoo." I just couldn't get enough of that - literally, since it never came on the radio in Texas.

1. Method Man - Overall, Meth has to go No. 1. He's a solid lyricist, quite the character himself, probably the best live performer of the group, a moderately successful actor and, bottom line, had the best solo career of the crew. However, Meth has lost steam in recent years. It'd be nice to see him make a comeback.

Feel free to disagree. And enjoy the song that brought the crew into my living room.

UPDATE: I swear, sometimes me and my man Avery are on the same wavelength. He come up with his own list today, too. I swear I didn't know until I'd already posted mine. Check it out.


Esquire said...

Nice blog.

My list over on Avery's sight was way different yours especially since I put Deck Number 1. I just think he was the most underrated MC in the Clan. His verses on CREAM, For Heaven's Sake, and Protect Ya Neck alone put him at the top for me.

I don't know. It's just so hard to rank these guys. But there is a definite consensus on U-God and Masta Killa at the bottom.

avery said...

i see your list is mad different from mine, but i was goin strictly by lyrics. i agree that gza has the best lyrics, but only mid-level personality and such.

taking all factors into consideration, i can roll with your list. iono if i'd put mef in the front, though.

you know what ghost verse did it for me? well, besides "wisdom body?" his verse on de la's "he comes."

blackink said...

Thanks for swinging by, Esq. Please come again.

And I agree: Deck's verse on "CREAM" was bananas. Folks that say hip-hop is all bling, guns and titties should be forced to listen that on a continuous loop.

And here's my top nine in terms of straight spittin - 9. U-God; 8. Masta Killa; 7. RZA; 6. Ol' Dirty; 5. Raekwon; 4. Method Man; 3. Inspectah Deck; 2. Ghostface; 1. GZA.

I think the only real difference in our lists is the placement of Rae. I'm struggling to think of a joint where I really remember him killin' it.

How sick, btw, is the interlude before "Method Man"? Just got through listening to that. Just nuts.

maria said...

method man might do more now that he's cut loose from his brillant part on the Wire.

blackink said...

It's a shame - and I probably shouldn't admit this - but I've never seen a complete episode of "The Wire."

But, alas, a good friend of mine sent me a package that arrived on my doorstep today: the first two seasons of "The Wire" on DVD. I'm going to dig into it Sunday.

Glad he did it because I might have put it off forever.

avery said...

well, come to think of it, meth has to > rae, because he beat him head-to-head on meth vs. chef.

the "torture" joint? one of the selling points of the album.

Anonymous said...

OMG. Please stop with the Method Man stuff. His acting career just negated and tarnished all verbal swagger he may have possessed. I'm a Ghostface, Raekwon, GZA (in that order) girl myself, if we're talking top 3.

blackink said...

Anon, hard to argue with your Top 3. But, again, I'm just not into Raekwon like that.

And you think "How High" killed Meth's swag like that? Really? Damn.

But I have to check him out on CSI, though I loathe that show. Apparently, he's got a recurring character on there.