Wu-Tang Clan: Tiny Desk Concert The Clan celebrates its 25th anniversary with an old-school cipher at the Tiny Desk.

Tiny Desk

Wu-Tang Clan

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.

Set List

  • "Wu Classics"

Credits

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

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Priests performs a Tiny Desk Concert on June 7, 2019. Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Priests

The punk-infused art band from Washington, D.C. brings a kinder, gentler and sparer version of the group's music to the Tiny Desk.

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles perform at Tiny Desk on June 11. Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Erin Rae

Every time she performs live, Erin Rae transforms her quiet storms into different hues of squalling introspection.

Sting and Shaggy perform a Tiny Desk Concert on Sept. 19, 2018. Cameron Pollack/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cameron Pollack/NPR

Sting And Shaggy

The two musical legends brought plenty of joy to the Tiny Desk, with an unexpected collaboration that works surprisingly well.

Miya Folick plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2019. Jenna Sterner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jenna Sterner/NPR

Miya Folick

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction.

Gemma Doherty (left) and Morgan MacIntyre performing as Saint Sister during their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington, D.C. Michael Zamora/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Zamora/NPR

Saint Sister

The group from Ireland makes music that mixes the organic with the electronic, starting with a large, 34-string lever harp.

Be More Chill plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 10, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Be More Chill

On Broadway, Be More Chill is a playful burst of frenetic energy and silly, stealthy sweetness. At the Tiny Desk, it holds onto that rowdy, generous spirit while stripping down the arrangements.

Tasha Cobbs Leonard plays a Tiny Desk Concert on June 4, 2019 (Shuran Huang/NPR). Shuran Huang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Shuran Huang/NPR

Tasha Cobbs Leonard

Tasha Cobbs Leonard is widely regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today. Her set at the Tiny Desk moved many at the NPR offices to tears.

Imogen Heap plays a Tiny Desk Conert on May 4, 2019 (Colin Marshall/NPR). Colin Marshall/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Colin Marshall/NPR

Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap takes us through her many musical talents, from her Frou Frou musical partner, Guy Sigsworth — and their first new song in 17 years — to an extraordinary performance with musical gloves.

Idles plays a Tiny Desk Concert on May 13, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

IDLES

The British madmen brought fury, cathartic rage and deep thoughts to the Tiny Desk for one of the loudest, most raucous performances in memory.

Foxing plays at the Tiny Desk on May 1, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Foxing

Foxing is at the forefront of an emo revival, heavily influenced by late-'90s and early 2000s groups like Sunny Day Real Estate and American Football.

Back To Top