Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.

Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Year :
Mobb Deep / Kendrick Lamar / Rage Against the Machine

The “Wu-Tang Clan” entry on Wikipedia reads like historical fiction. Taken together with the wiki pages for each of the individual clan members, you have a tome begging to be picked apart in semester-long course at a college somewhere between Boston and Albany.

The scope is epic: 10 rappers assemble from the projects of Staten Island and Brooklyn (Shaolin) to form the greatest rap group of all time. Along the way there is death. There is crime. There are public controversies, clothing lines, video games. Members bicker and then reconcile. Films are scored. Stoner comedies and Jim Jarmush films alike feature clan appearances. A child is rescued from car wreck.

It’s all right there for you in Wikipedia. It’s truthy.

Part-origin story, part mission statement, “C.R.E.A.M.” still feels somehow feels raw even after countless listens. It’s producer RZA’s most iconic beat—lo-fi enough to harness a gritty, washed out sound but peppered with off-kilter samples that give the track a woozy, surreal sound. And then there are the grim lyrics:

But it was just a dream for the teen, who was a fiend
Started smoking woolies at 16
And running up in gates, and doing hits for high stakes
Making my way on fire escapes
No question I would speed, for cracks and weed
The combination made my eyes bleed
No question I would flow off, and try to get the dough all
Sticking up white boys in ball courts
My life got no better, same damn ‘Lo sweater
Times is rough and tough like leather
Figured out I went the wrong route
So I got with a sick ass clique and went all out

Rap in aughts has become so synonymous with getting paid that it’s sometimes easy to forget how themes of conflict were so central at one time. It simply can’t be ignored—on “C.R.E.A.M.” the conflict is inescapable.

“Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” Not in the good way.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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