#WuTangWednesdays: ‘Wu-Tang An American Saga’ Is the Hottest Show on Hulu
After more than two decades in the music business, rap supergroup Wu-Tang Clan are finally getting their just due. Instead of Lifetime Achievement awards and tribute performances, the group is being honored in a more massive way – through a television series for the world to see.
After the success of a multi-part Showtime documentary, Wu-Tang’s story is being portrayed by rappers like Dave East, and Oscar winner Ashton Sanders, in the Hulu original production, Wu-Tang: An American Saga. The group is known as one of the greatest contributions and influencers in rap music.
Longtime fans of the group may be familiar with Wu-Tang members Method Man and RZA because of their success outside of the group, but viewers are now delving into the lives of all nine original members. The show has become one of Hulu’s most-watched, with episodes airing each Wednesday.
Who are Wu-Tang Clan?
Wu-Tang clan was founded by rapper and producer, RZA and is comprised of eight other rappers: GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa. The group hails from a rough neighborhood in Staten Island, New York. The group used music as an exit strategy out of the slums and their drug-infested community.
Their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), was released in 1993, and is regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Wu-Tang released four additional gold and platinum-selling albums as a group. With collective success, group members branched out, launching subgroups as member Method Man would later break from the group to become a rapping and acting sup with fellow rapper Red Man. RZA continued producing, as well as rapping under the moniker Bobby Digital. He also had success as a filmmaker, helping to create movies like Kill Bill and The Man with the Ironed Fists.
Wu-Tang is credited with being one of the first acts to introduce hardcore rap of the East Coast to hip hop. They are also considered one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time.
‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ wouldn’t be possible without the docuseries ‘Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men’
Before the Hulu original series grew to popularity, the group’s rise to success and cultural impact was documented in the Showtime docuseries, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men. The series premiered on the cable network in May 2019 and featured interviews with all members of the group in the four sixty-minute episodes.
The docuseries was created by journalist, Sacha Jenkins, and Wu-Tang founder, RZA. It tells the story of the New York hip-hop group from their humble beginnings. The idea for the series was birthed out of commemoration of the group’s 25th anniversary. Of Mics and Men includes never before seen videos, photos and archival performance footage throughout the group’s career.
Mics of Men gives fans an inside look into the dark world the group fought their way out of through their shared love of rap music. Growing up in the crime-riddled area of Park Hill, Staten Island in the 1980s, the series exposes the struggles and many tragedies the group had to endure before (and even after) their debut album in 1993.
Jenkins recalled a conversation she had with RZA that viewers would be surprised at the complexities of the group. Speaking with SPIN Magazine in April 2019, she said, “I know this better than most people and I’m gonna see things other people aren’t gonna see.”
The documentary was so loved among critics that it was the official selection of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga’ gains popularity on Hulu
Dateline began casting announcements for the Hulu series in February 2019. The site revealed that the show would be a 10-episode drama, created by Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA. In addition, Chris Robinson, who directed The New Edition Story, was hired to direct and co-executive produce the pilot episode.
The official show description was telling: Set in the early ’90s New York at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, the show tracks the Clan’s formation, a vision of Bobby Diggs aka The RZA, who strives to unite a dozen young, black men that are torn between music and crime but eventually rise to become the unlikeliest of American success stories.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga promised to “explore and expand the group’s world,” and that’s exactly what the show succeeded in. Fans have coined an official hashtag for the series, dedicating Wednesdays solely to the show with #WuTangWednesdays and sparking conversation on Twitter weekly.
Critics enjoy the show as well but suggests that to capture the full essence of the group, it’s better to watch the documentary and series together.