Wu-Tang 25: Quarter Century of Shaolin is a year-long series celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Released July 1, 1991
- Ooh We Love You Rakeem (Baggin’ Ladies Mix)
- Ooh We Love You Rakeem (Baggin’ Ladies Instrumental)
- Deadly Venoms (Vocals Up)
- Sexcapades (DMD Mix)
- Sexcapades (Wu-Tang Mix)
- Sexcapades (DMD Radio Mix)
- Sexcapades (DMD Instrumental)
- Sexcapades (Wu-Tang Instrumental)
Just like last month with the Words from the Genius, it’s only right that we go back to the other pre-36 Chambers release. First known at Prince Rakeem, RZA’s first release differs from his later solo projects, but unlike GZA’s first album, there is a clearer through line from his first solo project to future ones.
That through line is sex. His first persona was a pure ladies man. Not much nuance beyond that. Hell, half the EP is different versions of Sexcapades. The lead single Ooh We Love You Rakeem (No idea why its ‘We’ for the song but ‘I” for the title of the EP) sounds like the era it’s from, almost alarmingly so. It’s been years since I listened to it, and was surprised that I didn’t notice the similarities to Biz Markie. With RZA’s singing and the beat, I would’ve believed that it was produced by Marley Marl.
RZA sounds out of place and uncomfortable. While I will still say that isn’t required listening when delving into the Wu-Tang canon, I will also say there is more worth listening to here solely based on what Bobby Digital in Stereo is. Another one of RZA’s alter-egos, Bobby Digital is what Prince Rakeem would be seven years older and decided to become a superhero. No seriously, the RZA even wrote that in the Wu-Tang Manual.
On page 89 he writes:
Around 1998, I became a superhero in real life. For years, I was really into heroes like Moon Knight. He had no real superpowers. He was just a man. His story was that he almost died but survived and came back to life because of some kind of moon energy–it’s kind of like the Crow. And also, I’m a Cancer, a moon child, so I felt like him. And the Green Hornet’s another one of my favorite characters–and he’s just a man, too. So I decided, “Fuck this, I’m gonna become a superhero for real”.
He continues to write about how Bobby Digital is a mix of his past (Prince Rakeem) and present (RZA with his time with Wu-Tang). On page 91:
So Bobby Digital is about what molded me: comic books, video games, the arcade scene, breakdancing, hip-hop clothes, MCing, DJing, human beatboxing, graffiti plus Mathematics and the gods. That’s hip-hop to me.
Eventually, though, I took it to the final level. Even outside making music and films, I was on it. I decided to become Bobby Digital for real. I had the car and I had the suit. I was getting ready to go out at nighttime and right some wrongs. That was my plan–like on some Green Hornet shit. I had this suit built for me that’s literally invulnerable to AK fire. The car was a black Suburban that I had made bulletproof and bombproof up to government-security-level standards. I called it the Black Tank. I still have it–it stays at the Bat Cave. I even had a good butler almost ready to go. He was going to be like my Kato, but he wasn’t old enough yet. I was really on a mission, I really felt compelled. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. To get Bobby Digital up and online. To keep it real. That’s how seriously I took it.
The music from In Stereo reflects this. The plot of the album is that he tries to fight crime in the 80’s but gets forced underground. He developed the “honey serum” that expands his thinking. Then an accident in his lab transforms him to be able to travel through digital signals. He then goes to transform the ghetto by essentially shooting people with a digital bullet that allows them to see that the world around them has become digital while the ghetto was stuck in analog. The music also reflects his past. On NYC Everything, in-between the braggadocio rhymes, he slips back to those Prince Rakeem urges, but imagine those urges on the “honey serum.”
Enter your atmosphere, dig your pussy out like a pap smear/
Make you smile, at the same time crack a tear, smack your rear/
Vagina saliva, Trojan wear, rough rider/
Up inside ya, dick applehead opens your clit wider/
A part of Bobby Digital is Prince Rakeem to the extreme. That through line is what makes Ooh I Love You Rakeem more important to the Wu-Tang lore than WFTG. Not because of the quality of the music, but what that set in motion. It set the precedent for not only the RZA, but all of Wu-Tang to create these superhero-inspired alter-egos. Not only cause it gave them more words to rhyme with, but it let them explore and express different parts of their personality. Many stage names that rappers use aren’t their real names. Wu-Tang just took that to its logical end. So what happens when one of them takes that ability to hop in and out of characters to its logical end?
Next Chamber: Method Man’s Acting Career