Magazine article Newsweek

Bring in 'Da Ruckus; Rap's Wu-Tang Clan Takes Over

Magazine article Newsweek

Bring in 'Da Ruckus; Rap's Wu-Tang Clan Takes Over

Article excerpt

THE CHORUS TO THE WU-TANG CLAN hit "C.R.E.A.M." goes, "Cash rules everything around me," and money is very much on their minds. Thirty-five floors able the streets of Manhattan, rapper Raekwon yells over the phone at an RCA Records executive: "This s--t is f---ing up our first week." He's just been informed that the New York City Virgin Megastore imported the new Wu-Tang album from Europe and sold out of its entire shipment--at $88 a pop--five days in advance of the U.S. street date. Now bootlegs are being hawked all over the city. "I know what we're capable of scanning the first week. We probably lost 50,000 in sales." When he finally sits down to talk with NEWSWEEK, Raekwon's still visibly agitated. "People is taking money out our pockets," he says. "I'm happy people want our album like that, but damn."

If Raekwon sounds more like a CEO than a rapper, you've got to consider the Staten Island-based Wu-Tang Clan's five-year rise from obscurity to the top of hip-hop. Their 1998 debut, "Enter the 36 Chambers," went platinum, and five spinoff solo albums all went platinum or gold. They've started a popular line of called Wu-Wear and are making plans for Wu-World, a chain of entertainment centers. With Death Row Records in shambles and Bad Boy at a crossroads, Wu-Tang is now the creative center of hip-hop.

RZA, 27, is the man behind Wu-Tang's unique sound, an ominous blend of creepy piano riffs, whiny horns, wailing fiddles and kung-fu movie samples that has Snoop Doggy Dogg, Beck, Bjork and U2 clamming to work with him. …

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