“Cash Rules Everything Around Me…C.R.E.A.M, get the money! Dolla dolla bill y’all!”
For anybody raised in the hood in the early 90, this song wasn’t just an anthem, but a mantra! And this film is about the legendary group that created C.R.E.A.M, and changed the course of rap music.
Wu-Tang: Of Mics and Men, a documentary by Sacha Jenkins, premiered here at the Sundance Film Festival and to be completely honest, is the main reason I even came to Park City, Utah in the winter.
The doc explores the history of rap’s most prolific group. And though I am a lifelong fan, I realize many people know “of” the Wu-Tang Clan, they don’t really know WHO the Wu-Tang Clan actually is.
It’s the story of ten young, hungry MCs from Staten Island who used their love of old Kung Fu movies and their skills on the mic to make their way out of the grimy slums, and into stardom.
*RZA, GZA, Method Men, Raekwon, O’l Dirty Bastard, U-God, Ghostface Killa, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, and Masta Killa.*
“…explores the history of rap’s most prolific group…the Wu-Tang Clan.”
Bringing all the (living) members together to recall what life was like growing up in the hood, meeting each other, hustling to stay afloat, and most importantly, creating music together. As someone who grew up in a different, but very familiar “hood,” It’s a story all too familiar to many Black kids.
Part of the doc takes place current day at the St. George Theatre, where RZA and the rest of the crew, with the exception of O’l Dirty Bastard who passed away back in 2004, watch videos of their past and commentate on events that to the creation of their first album, “The 36 Chambers!” Which, could possibly be one of the greatest rap albums of all time behind “Paid In Full” by Eric B and Rakim, and “The Illmatic” by Nas!
At their core, the Wu-tang Clan are more of a brotherhood than just a group. The doc shows the years of friendship and “going to war together’ as brothers to get their music recorded and played. Though founding member RZA had a solo single on being circulated around New York, “Protect Ya Neck” was the first single the group as a whole dropped…to much success. It wasn’t until they were able to finally get into the studio to record their masterpiece, “The 36 Chambers” album.
“…raw footage of the O’l Dirty Bastard. His charisma and ‘in your face’ realness was infectious…”
But the road to the 36 Chambers wasn’t a cakewalk. Just getting there the young men had to find a way to survive the hard streets of Staten Island. Some of the crew even had to hustle drugs just to stay afloat. Which eventually landed to the incarceration of member U-God and Ghostface Killa.
The documentary is a 4-part series. This review covers parts 1 and 2. But just from what I’ve seen already, I can’t wait to see where this story goes. And I’ll admit, I did get a little choked up seeing raw footage of the O’l Dirty Bastard. His charisma and “in your face” realness was infectious, and I don’t think I was the only in that theater that shed a tear or two.
Would I recommend Wu-Tang: Of Mics and Men?
I absolutely would! Even if you’re not a fan of rap music, you will be entertained and moved. This is a documentary that’s actually worth watching! And maybe I’m a little biased because of I’m a fan, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Wu-Tang: Of Mics and Men (2019) Directed by Sacha Jenkins. Starring RZA, GZA, Method Man, O’l Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killa, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, Masta Killa, and Mook.
10 OUT OF 10