Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
When taking into consideration the amount of group and solo releases that make up the Wu-Tang Clan discography, you’d think that Raekwon and the RZA would have rapped on more songs together than they actually have. But if you exclude the Wu’s posse-style singles, the number of album cuts featuring verses by both of them isn’t as abundant as it should be. So we’re hoping the alleged report stating that the strike is over and the two Wu Gods are back on good terms is true, and that they’re getting ready to make some new joints together for the upcoming group reunion album tentatively titled A Better Tomorrow.
With an optimistic outlook on the situation, we combed through Wu-Tang’s ’90s back-catalog to present you with 5 of our favorite throwback bangers that feature both Raekwon and RZA Verses. And no, you won’t find singles like “Protect Ya Neck” or “Triumph” on this short list. These are the less-celebrated but still heavily rotated Wu classics that best represent what happens when Raekwon and the RZA spit darts on the same track (pardon the lack of obscurity—in our opinion, not all rap lists have to be filled with rarities). We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the new LP, beyond the singles, has bountiful gems like this to uncover.
All you Wu-Tang diehards out there please throw your W’s up and rap along, we already know you can recite every word of these joints, though you may not have heard some of them in a minute. And for the Wu newbies, don’t be afraid to abuse the rewind button on these selections—Lord knows we have to death.
1. “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” ft. Raekwon, Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, RZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and GZA
“Protect Ya Neck” laid the groundwork for the Wu, but 36 Chambers was blazing from top to bottom, and Raekwon quickly emerged as one of the standouts in the group with his starring verses on “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Can It Be All So Simple”, and his vicious opening on “7th Chamber” that had us all “open like six packs.” And RZA added on to “7th Chamber” with that growly, rugged style, where he was “quick to stick a Wu-Tang sword right through your navel.” The remix towards the end of the disc was dope, too, but with the killer tape skit in the opening and the crazy minor-key piano loop, the original “7th Chamber” was just too much to compete with.
2. “Wu-Gambinos” ft. Raekwon, Method Man, RZA, Masta Killa, and Ghostface Killah
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… is often crowned the best of the Wu-Tang solo releases, and the reason why it’s so critically acclaimed is because of album cuts like this. “Wu-Gambinos” wasn’t a single, but it was a defining song for the Clan during the mid-’90s, as it fully introduced us to their gangster aliases, which would in turn influence a generation of New York rappers, including their Queensbridge connection Nas Escobar. “Wu-Gambinos” was about unity and brotherhood in spirit, but beat and lyric-wise, it also just flat-out showed that they were the best rap group out, without a doubt. And that was in special thanks to Rae’s fiery microphone presence, and RZA’s shockingly outstanding verse, which displayed his new, more laidback, lyrical style that we would hear more of in the years to come. Anyone who was unsure about RZA’s mic abilities in comparison to his production was set straight on this one. “Local bio-chemical, universal giant, the black general/Licking shots at Davey Crockett on the bicentennial.” What?!?! Crazy.
3. “Assassination Day” ft. Inspectah Deck, RZA, Raekwon, and Masta Killa
How dope is it that Wu-Tang solo projects would feature songs that didn’t even have the lead artist on them? It made them all feel like group releases. Raekwon let Ghostface go for self on Cuban Linx’s “Wisdom Body,” and Ghost returned the favor kindly by not only letting Rae body “The Faster Blade” on Ironman, but also by letting his Wu brothers go off without him on “Assassination Day.” Ghost explained to Complex that he was sick at the time Ironman was being recorded, and when the beat came up, he “couldn’t catch it.” But his crew sure did! This is one of the hardest Wu-Tang Clan posse cuts ever. The Wu was at the peak of their “no hook” recordings, and this shit was a fucking militant forest fire of lyricism. Inspectah Deck, RZA, Rae, and Masta Killa were most definitely all in black belt form on this one. Thanks for letting this breathe, Ghost!
*Bonus* Also check for “After the Smoke is Clear” off Ironman, which features verses by Raekwon and RZA, HERE.
4. “Duck Seazon” ft. Raekwon, RZA, and Method Man
Again, who needs a gimmicky hook when you have beats and MCs like this to work with? “Duck Seazon” fell towards the end the Wu’s epic double-disc Wu-Tang Forever, and Raekwon admitted that the song wasn’t a personal favorite of his to Complex, citing its length as his issue with it. But we weren’t mad at the length one bit. The longer the better! He also explained how he ended up on the song, saying, “RZA really needed my voice on it. When he comes at me and says shit like that, I know that’s because he’s getting ready to tear it up. That’s when he was just goin’ crazy on it.” This quote makes perfect sense too, because RZA does go nuts on his verse, threatening to “punch a hole in your face with these pointy-ass rings” and overall just tearing the beat to shreds. And Rae sounds dope as ever, as he lets duck-heads know, “You was born to be a pawn, but I’m a bishop.” It isn’t the most complicated beat, but it insanely bangs, and with darts like these, it quickly became one of Wu-Tang Forever’s fan favorites. Let’s pray to the rap Gods that RZA approaches Rae with something this crack for the new album.
*Bonus* Also check for “Severe Punishment” off Wu-Tang Forever, which features verses by both Rae and RZA, HERE.
5. “Diesel” ft. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Method Man, RZA, and U-God
The Soul in the Hole soundtrack featured the full extent of the Loud Records roster, and then some. And it wasn’t a bunch of bullshit re-releases either. It had exclusives by everyone from Mobb Deep to the Wu, and the Clan came correct on “Diesel,” spitting ferociously over a Shaolin sewer-style, bass-heavy facemelter. It’s ill to hear the Clan do the in and out thing as a group, with ODB (wow), Meth, Raekwon, RZA, and U-God hopping on and off the track, exchanging bars with their fellow swordsmen and displaying the full depth of their chambers. Rae’s flow particularly on this joint is A++, whereas RZA lays back “like Adam fucking Eve” and drops two chilled-out but wordy stanzas, passing the mic back and forth with U-God in the cleanup spot. Bang this shit, it will blow your mind whether you’ve heard it a thousand times or this is your first listen.
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