With the popularity of the new Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, the Wu-Tang Clan is back on a lot of people’s minds. Widely regarded as one of the greatest rap groups of all time, classic Wu-Tang raw tracks and vicious verses are finding a revival in recognition almost 30 years later.
The 9 original members of the Wu-Tang clan are RZA, Method Man, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bast*rd (ODB), Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa; so what have they been doing since?
The unofficial leader/founder/organizer/creator of the Wu-Tang Clan, there’s no doubt that RZA (Robert Diggs) is an extremely intelligent man. His lyrics and metaphors are generally deep, meaningful and significant. The Wu-Tang Clan itself is a metaphor influenced by East Asian culture, as is referring to Staten Island as Shaolin.
RZA is smart as f*ck, so it should come as little surprise that the super-dope new Wu-Tang: An American Saga series on Hulu was co-created, and is co-produced, by RZA.
RZA is a successful producer as well as a rapper; most of Wu-Tang’s beats are produced by RZA. He continued to regularly create beats throughout the 2000s and 2010s as well. RZA makes quite a bit of music for movies as well, most notably the “Kill Bill” films. Various different modern hip-hop artists and producers have stated that their own style is inspired by RZA. Furthermore, many refer to RZA as one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time (up there with Dr. Dre, of course).
RZA has done a bit of acting as well, including a fairly decent-sized role in “American Gangster” and recently in 2021’s “Nobody“.
To this day, RZA continues to discuss and promote the culture of the Five-Percent Nation; the name “RZA” was inspired by Five Percenter teachings, specifically The Supreme Alphabet.
RZA is still a vegan and, like other members of Wu-Tang, an avid fan of Asian martial arts films (where the name “Wu-Tang” was inspired from).
Arguably the most widely-known member of the “Wu-Tang Clan” (partially contributed to by the hit Wu-Tang track simply titled “Method Man”), Method Man (Clifford Smith Jr.) found moderate success with an acting career including films such as “How High” and “Belly”, as well as more recently with many different small roles in numerous different films and TV series. He is also one of the executive producers of Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
Method Man is portrayed in Wu-Tang: An American Saga as always having a blunt in his hand, this aligns with his representation in “How High”. In 2007 he was arrested after his vehicle was inspected while he had a bag of weed and blunts in plain sight. Later in 2010, he was found guilty of tax evasion and had to pay a $100k+ fine.
Method Man is a fan of comics, and both collects and creates them.
Oh, yeah, Method Man recently started f*cksin’ with NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) too.
Method Man continues to make music and play shows every now and then.
GZA (The Genius, Gary Grice) has always had a passion for science; his intelligent and vocabulary-diverse lyrics reflect this; he often raps about scientific and philosophical concepts. He’s even worked with physicists at MIT.
Since 2010, GZA has dedicated much of his time and energy to speaking about science at different universities, as well as improving science education for high school students. Innovatively, he started a program, Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S., that uses hip-hop to help high school students learn science. Not only did this program see an objective increase in students’ attendance and scores, but it also goes some ways towards shifting the stereotype that hip-hop can only be destructive to a society.
Relatedly, GZA is currently working on a new album where he will rap (teach) about themes such as the Earth, oceans, space and physics. This album will not include profanity and will not have a parental advisory label. However, it’s been 6 years since GZA announced this album and he still has yet to release it.
Like his cousin RZA is and his cousin ODB was, GZA is a Five Percenter.
Married with 2 children, Raekwon (Corey Woods) still lives in Staten Island, but his beautiful house now is a far cry from the Park Hill (Killer Hill) projects he grew up in.
Raekwon officially converted to Islam in 2009. Like some of the other rappers in the Wu-Tang Clan, his stage name is inspired by 5 Percenter teachings.
Actor Shameik Moore (also seen in the moderately popular 2015 hip-hop movie “Dope“) plays Raekwon in the 2020- TV Series Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and he is one of the most focused-on characters in the series.
Raekwon is still touring and actually just released a memoir the day this post was written.
Raekwon founded his own record label (including a division in Canada) and his latest album is set to come out this year. To this day Raekwon continues to deliver his classic story-telling, realism style in his rhymes, in a similar style to Ghostface Killah.
Like most of the other rappers in “Wu-Tang”, Ghostface Killah (Dennis Coles) has made numerous different successful albums throughout the last 2 and a half decades, including recently collaborating with Kanye West for an upcoming album. At the time of writing this article, Ghostface Killah is currently touring with Raekwon and GZA.
Ghostface Killah does interviews frequently where he discusses various topics about himself and about hip-hop in general.
His son is also a rapper (known as “Sun God”) and he has formed a rap group with the sons of other Wu-Tang Clan members. Ghostface also has 2 other sons who are also in the music industry, as well as a daughter. Ghostface Killah has never been married.
Like Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa, U-God has achieved less commercial success than other members of the group. He generally has fewer bars in Wu-Tang songs than the other members as well.
He has written a book about the Wu-Tang Clan, and is often quite vocal about how he disagrees with RZA and the way Wu-Tang is operated. In 2016 he even initiated a $2 million lawsuit against the Wu-Tang Clan for “unpaid royalties”.
Although his son was hit by a stray bullet when he was 2 years old, the boy survived and is now a rapper by the name of iNTeLL, who raps with Method Man’s son, Ghost Face Killah’s son and Ol’ Dirty Bast*rd’s son.
Masta Killa (Jamal Irief) was the last rapper to join Wu-Tang and was the last rapper in the group to release a solo album. He’s released 3 other solo albums since.
Like RZA and GZA, Masta Killa is a vegetarian; he even promoted vegetarianism in a public service announcement for PETA.
Masta Killa’s net worth is $2 million, less than any other original member of the Wu-Tang Clan; however, Masta Killa is said to be a humble, patient and grateful guy, so I don’t think he minds too much.
Inspectah Deck is considered by many to be the most underrated rapper of all time. Having more of a passive persona; he’s fairly low-key. Although he is a very talented lyricist and has dope af verses on some of Wu-Tang’s most famous songs, news about him and his achievements are often overshadowed by other members of the Wu-Tang clan. Unlike other artists in the Clan, Inspectah Deck doesn’t really have a uniqueness about his character or charisma that is often required to garner fame and success in the music industry.
He continues to release albums, many of which he makes as a member of the hip-hop group “Czarface”. Like RZA, he also is a producer and has mixed various different tracks for Wu-Tang as well as other artists.
His most recent album pays tribute to Ol’ Dirty Bast*rd.
Ol’ Dirty Bast*rd (RIP)
The wildly unpredictable and eccentric ODB (Ol’ Dirty Bast*rd, Russel Jones), from ’93 to 2004 ODB had a smorgasbord of legal issues from possessing crack-cocaine to shoplifting sneakers (even though he was quite rich and famous at the time) to wearing a bulletproof vest while being a convicted felon (apparently that’s illegal). He was shot and shot at multiple times throughout this period. In and out of jail while battling with drug addictions, ODB was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2003.
This erratic period of time culminated with a fateful afternoon on November 13, 2004, when ODB collapsed from an accidental, fatal overdose in his cousin RZA’s studio after using cocaine while taking the prescription opioid tramadol (never ever mix downers and uppers like that, it is extremely dangerous).
According to friends, ODB was highly intelligent and a visionary, but slowly lost his way and disintegrated to mental illness and drug addiction over the years.
RIP ODB, may you find the peace, stability and answers in death that you struggled to find in life.
Although modern rappers often come and go almost as quickly as the seasons, the Wu-Tang Clan’s legacy continues to resonate through the decades.
In 2018, 25 years after the Wu-Tang Clan was founded, all living members were actually all together on one track slicing through bars with classic Wu-Tang style.