The Wu-Tang Clan gathered at the Tiny Desk to commemorate the 25 years since the release of the group's landmark album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). With more than 60 albums between the various members, The Clan's combined discography left them spoiled for choice when it came to narrowing down the set list for their performance. The result was an extended, 20-minute medley of songs from across the group's iconic catalog.
The retrospective mashup of Wu classics started with the posse cut "Triumph." Backed by strings (The Green Project), the performance morphed into an old-school cipher as Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and Cappadonna traded verses with GZA, Masta Killa and U-God. Young Dirty Bastard, son of original member Ol' Dirty Bastard, provided a spark of energy reminiscent of his father.
At one moment in the performance, RZA — the mastermind behind the Clan's success — omits some explicit lyrics from earlier in his Wu journey, while alluding to the #MeToo movement mid-cadence. But it's the poetic interlude, read from his phone at the close of the set, that better reflects his current state of consciousness. "Wu-Tang is for the kids!" RZA proclaims. The core of the group began as childhood pals in Staten Island in the early '90s, when the crew's creative philosophy was influenced by everything from Saturday afternoon kung-fu flicks to the spiritual wisdom of the Five-Percent Nation. As they've matured, Raekwon still describes the Wu as "superfriends." They've allowed each other to grow and form various offshoots in recent years. But when the Wu-Tang Clan comes together, they still bring a love for the culture and for their brotherhood.
Producers: Abby O'Neill, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri, CJ Riculan; Editor: Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Cameron Pollack/NPR