How ‘Protect ya Neck’ turned Wu-Tang Clan into a group
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How ‘Protect ya Neck’ turned Wu-Tang Clan into a group

The Wu-Tang Clan were a phenomenon when they first hit the airwaves in 1993. Comprised of members from Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx, the Wu-Tang Clan provided the rough and ready New York kickback to the easygoing G-funk sound that Death Row was cultivating in LA.

Formed in Staten Island by three relatives, the rap group went through various name and line-up changes before they became what we know as the Wu-Tang Clan today. The clan began as a family crew before locals and friends entered the group. Originally consisting of just RZA, GZA and Ol Dirty Bastard (ODB), who are cousins, the collective was named Force of the Imperial Master.

While RZA permanently resided in the fairly desolate New York City borough of Staten Island, GZA moved back and forth between the island and Brooklyn before settling in Brooklyn as a teenager. His cousin, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (commonly known as ODB), also lived in the borough, so as a result, they formed a close bond.

Right from the start of the crew, RZA was the Clan’s primary producer. RZA brought a lo-fi production style that he skillfully fused with a grimey and abrasive edge. It was this sonic that would become the clan’s calling card. As the crew’s de facto leader, RZA suggested that they begin recruiting new members.

One of the crew’s most successful members was Method Man. The rapper (real name Clifford Smith) and in an appearance on the My Expert Opinion podcast with Math Hoffa, the rapper explained how ‘Protect ya Neck’ turned Wu-Tang Clan into a group, as it only began as a trio. Speaking to the hosts, detailed, “Wu-Tang was supposed to be just Ol’ Dirty Bastard RZA and GZA. That’s what it was supposed to be but that joint that we did ‘Protect Ya Neck’ was their posse cut with people from around the way. It more basically like ‘Bring $100 to the studio’ and then RZA being the scientist that he is was like ‘Why don’t we come with all these n*ggas they’re at the crib every motherf*cking week!'”

Smith continued, “we were making tape after tape, we were already hood celebrities! The majority of sh*t that we did on that first album was shit we had been doing since we were 15!” Method man elaborated and explained that, effectively when the original trio recorded ‘Protect Ya Neck’ and decided to make it a posse cut, it marked a transition from three members to over nine. You can take a listen to ‘Protect Ya Neck’ in the video below and watch My Expert Opinion podcast with Method Man too.