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10 Rare Wu-Tang Songs You Probably Haven’t Heard

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Wu-Tang Clan is probably the most well-known rap group of all time. They transcend country, race, and religion. The Wu basically bridges any separation between people you can think of. Nerds and hip-hop heads. Chess players and DJs. Dustheads and blunt rollers. Everyone listens to the Wu.

Not everyone, though, knows some of their rarer gems from the ’90s, and seeing how it’s #WuWednesday, why not dig through the archives and revisit some of their forgotten cuts? Let’s get hyper off the ginseng.

Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele

1. RZA – “Sunshower” (Prod. by RZA) [1997]

In The Tao Of Wu, RZA calls this song “A Staten Island Jeremiad,” meaning a long, mournful compliant or lamentation. It was only included on the international version of Wu-Tang Forever, and in a way it’s an essential piece of the sprawling puzzle that is that album. RZA’s lament is a 6-minute, no-chorus version of what the Wu was preaching across their second album – wisdom, healing, and a whole host of 5 Percent ideology. In fact, this song might have even been the seed from which RZA’s idea for The Cure (his mystical, unreleased album) sprouted. It’s Apocalyptic mood certainly indicates as much.

2. Raekwon – “Rainy Dayz” (Remix) [Feat. Ghostface Killah] (Prod. by Mr. Dalvin & Diamond D) [1996]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLVWIH5NU2Y

This is the quintessential springtime rap song. A Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes sample helps, but what’s better is the juxtaposition between the stormy original and the sunny b-side. It’s also notable for the rare D.I.T.C.-Wu connection, as Diamond D programmed the breezy beat.

3. GZA – “Cold World” (RZA Mix) [Feat. D’Angelo & Inspectah Deck] (Prod. by RZA) [1996]

The year after Liquid Swords hit shelves, Geffen released a remix for “Cold World,” the biggest single off that album by a long shot. Here, D’Angelo introduces the song acapella, making it all the more obvious that his hook was influenced by Stevie Wonder’s “Rocket Love.” On the same 12 inch, yet another mix of “Cold World” called RZA’s Power Mix was also included, but this one is the better alternative. Peep how RZA alters where the drums and strings are throughout this mix.

4. Ghostface Killah – “Cobra Clutch” (Prod. by Mathematics) [1998]

We dropped extensive knowledge on this gem back in our piece on Supreme Clientele, but in short, Ghost’s record label Epic was considering putting this out as a street single for that album. When Starks got locked up, however, all scheduled promo was put on hold, and so “Cobra Clutch,” which probably would have been a strange first single to push, was instead relegated to the Wu-Tang Killa Bees compilation in ’98. Hence why they shot a video for this rarity.

5. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Don’t You Know Part II” (Prod. by RZA) [1995]

This b-side to “Rawhide” encapsulates what ODB and his debut album were all about. Shit, his opening bars are, “I know all the time fellas, it’s hard to use a Trojan / Cause your shit can’t breathe, it’s all closed in.” It sounds like a skeleton of a RZA beat, reminscent of the string plucks on “Liquid Swords.” Oh, and it features a Wu affiliate with one of the greatest names of all time – Shorty Shit Stain.

Related: The Making Of ODB’s “Harlem World”

6. Method Man – “The Riddler” (Prod. by RZA) [1995]

“The Riddler” was a single off the Batman Forever soundtrack, but it could have easily fit on the rumbling, low-t0-the-ground Tical album from a year prior. Don’t miss RZA’s Hide-Out Mix either – it sounds like he’s playing buckets for drums.

7. Wu-Tang Clan – “America” (Prod. by RZA) [1996]

America Is Dying Slowly was a rap compilation meant to help boost awareness about AIDS, and it featured exclusive tracks from Mobb Deep, De La Soul, Eightball & MJG, and other popular acts. That O.V. Wright piano sample is just clean enough to hint at Wu-Tang’s aesthetic progression while still harkening back to the 36 Chambers days.

8. Ghostface Killah – “In The Rain (Wise)” [2000]

Here’s another joint we broke down in our Supreme Clientele anniversary piece. It might be one of the best Ghost records ever recorded, as he bares his soul about the death of a close friend over the powerful, untouched Dramatics sample. You have to read his explanation of the song at a listening session back in 2000.

9. Wu-Tang Clan – “Diesel” (Prod. by RZA) [1998]

In retrospect, knowing what we do about the F.B.I.’s file on ODB, Dirty was speaking the real on this song. “I need help. The government is after me,” he pleads. It was originally included on the Soul In The Hole soundtrack from ’98, and it brings together all the elements that made Wu great – ODB’s bugged out paranoia, Raekwon’s tangle of syllables, Meth’s clear-cut precision, RZA’s drunken math….and U-God.

10. RZA – “Wu Wear: The Garment Renaissance” (Feat. Cappadonna & Method Man) [Prod. by RZA] (1996)

We saved the best for last. 1996 brought the High School High soundtrack, and with it, this incredible single. Everything from the single cover to the song’s title itself is just the kind of bugged out genius Wu brought to the table. Cappadonna a.k.a. Wardrobe Papi had to be on the fashion-centric track that was at once a single for the film’s soundtrack and an advertisement for Wu Wear, the group’s new clothing line. It’s like when Gap unintentionally funded a commercial for Fubu. Props to RZA for the slick business move.

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