Before becoming an acclaimed actor and solo artist, the New York musician, Method Man, was part of Staten Island’s legendary Wu-Tang Clan. Coming to prominence in the mid-1990s, the collective (commonly referred to as ‘The Clan’) were unlike any group that had ever come before them. They were philosophical yet, at the same time, aggressive and brought a gritty sound to combat the mellowness of 1990s G-funk.
The Clan had an organic and very natural come up. The collective, made up of nine members, went through a series of changes before it became the legendary mob that we know it to be today. The Wu-Tang Clan began as a modest family venture with humble beginnings in the previously disregarded New York borough of Staten Island.
In true hip-hop fashion, initially, the crew operated out of RZA’s basement. Comprised of cousins RZA, GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (commonly known as ODB), the Park Hill trio commenced under the moniker Force of the Imperial Master. However, the music they released in the late-’80s as a three-piece ensemble was put out to little acclaim.
With GZA (real name Gary Grice) moving to Brooklyn as a teenager, the crew sought to expand. After drafting in some friends and locals, the trio soon became a nine-member powerhouse. Operating out of a dingy cellar, the group (heavily inspired by Kung-Fu films) aimed to harness martial arts’ mental discipline and ferocity and incorporate it into their productions.
Now functioning as an inter-borough crew, the Stan Island and Brooklyn band were able to spread their work further without the constraints of being solely based on a detached and somewhat unconsidered island in New York’s Upper Bay. Taking their music to a small, vinyl pressing plant in Staten Island, The Clan’s music began to travel. With underground radio airplay and their productions in record shops in Queens and beyond, the nine-piece were soon offered a record deal with Loud Records in 1991.
Following this, the crew released their debut single ‘Protect Ya Neck’ in 1992, and after this, things were never the same. They shot to fame with their lo-fi, grimy and abrasive music and soon became a force to be reckoned with. However, some members prospered more than others, one of those being the legendary Method Man (real name Clifford Smith).
Following The Clan’s slow dissipation, Method Man went on to have a career in acting and formed a successful duo with the iconic New Jersey rapper Redman. Making an appearance on MC Serch’s Serch Says podcast in 2020; Smith revealed who he believes is the most underrated member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
Speaking on The clan, the podcast host stated, “To me, Inspectah Deck is one of the most underrated MCs of all time!” Agreeing with the interviewer, Smith insinuated that he would have been a star if his counterpart had arisen before MTV in the 1980s. Elaborating, the Staten Island rapper explained,
“If Deck came in that era, he would’ve blew up much more than what he did. Interview-wise, he chose to step back and let other brothers do the talking.” He continued, “When you think of Wu-Tang, his name doesn’t come up first. But when you think of iconic verses, his name’s coming up first. When you think of Wu-Tang’s catalogue, his name is coming up first, second, or third.”
Continuing to show his appreciation of Deck, Smith declared that he won’t be appreciated until he’s dead, bluntly proclaiming, “This is fucked up to say in a way. I don’t think they gonna appreciate Deck until [he’s] gone. They’re going to be like ‘why didn’t we give this nigga his roses?’ So I’m giving him his roses now. Deck–top five, dead or alive.”
When asked by MC Serch about his top five rappers Smith concluded, “Deck, Deck, Deck, Deck, f*cking Deck! All Inspectah Deck.” You can watch the lyricist explaining his love for the rapper in the video below.