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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Eight Most Memorable Pop Culture References on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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5. "There's no place to hide once I step inside the room/ Dr. Doom, prepare for the boom/ Bam/ Aw, man/ I slam/ Jam/ Now scream like Tarzan"

Wu-Tang's love for comic books is so serious that RZA dedicated a whole chapter in The Wu-Tang Manual to it. "Growing up, I used to read comics like a movie," he writes. "I don't know if you get comics more growing up in the projects or not, but I know you can relate to a lot of the main stories. Marvel heroes especially: they're always tragic." Aside from the reference to the ruler of Latveria in "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit," Method Man wrote a song about The Riddler for the Batman Forever soundtrack and Ghostface Killah also goes by the nicknames Tony Starks and Ironman. The repeated homages to the real deal paid off for the Iron Man fan, as Ghostface scored a cameo in the first Iron Man film. (It was cut from the final edit, but still.) Even though he wasn't invited back to appear in the sequel, he seems content with whatever experiences he did have. "I got paid last time, though," he amiably told MTV around the release of Iron Man 2. "I got 30 Gs last time."

6. "I be tossin', enforcin', my style is awesome/ I'm causin' more family feuds than Richard Dawson/ And the survey said, 'You're dead'/ Fatal flying guillotine chops off your fuckin' head"

It's not difficult to imagine the whole Wu crew just sitting around enjoying the Game Show Network as they light up blunts and down 40s. 36 Chambers evidences this in two ways: You've got RZA mentioning that eternally creepy Family Feud host in "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit," and then Ghostface using a simile involving Press Your Luck on "Tearz" while relating a story of someone catching AIDS. Plus, the last line in the above segment references the 1977 flick Fatal Flying Guillotine, further emphasizing RZA's obsession with old martial arts movies.

7. "Cause I don't know ya therefore show me what you know/ I come sharp as a blade and I cut you slow/ You become so pat as my style increases/ What's that in your pants? Aww, human feces!/ Throw your shitty drawers in the hamper/ Next time come strapped with a fuckin Pamper"

GZA is Wu-Tang's resident master of extended metaphors. On "Labels," off his solo album Liquid Swords, he manages to fit the names of about two dozen record imprints into one song, admonishing the business all the way. The song didn't turn out half as contrived as it could been. His zenith of extended metaphors on 36 Chambers arrives when he talks baseball during "Clan in Da Front," but another pops up earlier in the same track, which leads to the funniest line delivery on the whole record. As GZA talks about his lyrical opponent soiling himself out of fear of the Genius' skills, he says, "Awww, human feces!" with such righteous disgust, it sounds as if someone was actually shitting in the studio when the song was recorded. GZA's mention of Pampers at the end isn't just a great punchline -- it's also a potential spokesman pitch. We'd totally choose GZA-endorsed Pampers over whatever dumb baby is on a Huggies box.

8. All of "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man."

Method Man is the most personable and accessible member of the Wu-Tang Clan -- the guy's down to shill for Right Guard and Sour Patch Kids, for Pete's sake -- but he sure didn't make a whole lot of sense on 36 Chambers. He has killer flow and energy, but if you try to read what's coming out of his mouth as a narrative, little of it makes sense. It's no biggie, really, as "M.E.T.H.O.D. Man" has enough entertaining nods to children-associated items to excuse his storytelling skills. The song, which cribs its idea for a spelled-out chorus from Hall & Oates' "Method of Modern Love," works in allusions to "Pattycake," Green Eggs and Ham, Tweety, Fat Albert, The Three Little Pigs, Superman, "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins, and Tootsie Rolls. Really, the whole thing is pretty subversive when you consider the actual track is about appreciating weed, women, and malt liquor, but its party-friendly flow makes the song impossible to denigrate.


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