In music, convention tends to rule the airwaves. Certain rules apply in order to make a radio-worthy track. We recently went through the brutal age of the ring-tone, where having a catchy hook was the driving force behind platinum selling singles. It forced the artists to adapt to new styles because without change, a career could come crashing down. Who else would we look to when looking to challenge the conventional? The almighty Wu of course!
Who better to give a giant middle finger to the radio execs than a group that has spit in the face of the musical norms for their entire career. This supergroup has never sought acceptance for anything other than what they could say was entirely crafted by their musical desire, not by what others told them would work. These lyrical geniuses have even been proven to have a larger vocabulary than Shakespeare.
In a review of Shakespeare’s first 35,000 words written, he wrote 5,170 unique words. When compared with 85 hip-hop artists first 35,000 lyrics (The equivalent of 5 studio records), Aesop Rock, Kool Keith and the GZA set the bar much higher level than Mr. Hamlet himself. In the top 20 for hip-hop artists, Wu Tang as a group was 7th in unique words written. Broken down further, GZA is at #2, Ghostface Killah is at #9 and Raekwon and Method Man are at 19 and 20 respectively.
What better way to showcase this verbal depth and originality than to create a 6 minute assault on the senses entitled Triumph. Featured on the 1997 record Wu-Tang Forever, eight of the nine members ferociously claimed all of New York City as theirs and theirs only. No chorus needed, they just spit bars on bars. As they swarmed through the city on an unstoppable rampage, there wasn’t any time for some catchy hook, only time for utter lyrical domination.
When presented to the radio/video execs, RZA was told there was no way this would work and that it had to be edited. There was no hesitation in telling them to fuck off, take it or leave it, this project would be untouched or would be shelved for good. Wisely, the project was moved forward and even wound up having Brett Ratner direct the video (Director of Rush Hour). What came next was 6 minutes of visual madness and eargasmic genius. Enjoy as they do what they do best. They give it to ya raw with no trivia, like cocaine straight from Bolivia.