‘Verzuz’: Raekwon and Ghostface Killah Go Way Back

Over the past year, Verzuz has brought together friends and foes as they battle it out to see which one can claim more hit songs to their name. Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah are the latest rappers to take the Verzuz stage, and many believe it’s an even match that was a long time coming.

Wu-Tang members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah attend The FADER FORT, 2015 | Roger Kisby/Getty Images

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah were in the Wu-Tang Clan

Hip-hop entered its golden age in the late 1980s and early ’90s. In New York, where the sound first emerged, all kinds of rappers were looking to rise through the ranks and establish themselves as giants in the genre.

RZA and Ghostface Killah were two rappers with similar stories: they both grew up in the same housing project in Staten Island and even went to the same high school. When RZA started making music in the early ’90s, he and his roommate at the time, Ghostface Killah, decided to form a new hip-hop group called the Wu-Tang Clan.

Their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) put Wu-Tang Clan on the map, and made stars out of every member. Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and GZA inked their own solo contracts not long afterward, and over the next few years they often alternated between making music with the group and releasing their own projects.

Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan performs on the release day of his ‘The Appetition’ EP during Beat Horizon at O2 Academy Brixton on January 18, 2020 in London, England | Ollie Millington/Redferns

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah’s connection before Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu-Tang Clan is a New York hip-hop group through and through, and its roots in Staten Island have been strong since its formation. Ghostface Killah got to know RZA in high school, but the rapper also crossed paths with another future collaborator.

In a 2020 interview on The Breakfast Club, Raekwon stated that he and Ghostface Killah went to middle school together in Staten Island. After that, he became friends with future Wu-Tang members Method Man, Remedy, and Inspectah Deck at New Dorp High School. So a few years later, when RZA wanted to form a group, the two were able to pull in seven members through their connections.

Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan performs during EMBA Fest 2020 at Oakland Arena on February 21, 2020 in Oakland, California | Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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Ghostface Killah and Raekwon’s ‘Verzuz’ battle will be a family (and middle school) reunion

Given that Verzuz battles focus on individual artists rather than groups they may have been a part of, it’s likely that Ghostface Killah and Raekwon will compete using their own solo work rather than hits they share from the Wu-Tang era.

As the members of Wu-Tang Clan became successful rappers in their own right, there was friction between members of the group — most notably, between RZA and Raekwon. Through it all, however, Ghostface Killah has stood by Raekwon’s side, making their Verzuz battle a much-needed feel-good reunion.