cover image From the Streets of Shaolin: The Wu-Tang Saga

From the Streets of Shaolin: The Wu-Tang Saga

S.H. Fernando, Jr. Hachette, $30 (528p) ISBN 978-0-3068-7446-8

Music journalist Fernando (The New Beats) meticulously recounts the career of legendary hip-hop supergroup Wu-Tang Clan (WTC) in this sprawling biography. He explores the group’s origins, starting with the “all-star lineup” of its nine founding members. Before “tearing up the underground,” life for the Staten Island musicians was full of drugs, crime, and a near-inescapable sense of despair. But member RZA had other plans. When he created Wu-Tang Productions in 1992, his “pitch was simple: Give me a year of your life... and we’ll never have to sell drugs again.” After months of hitting the studio “six days a week,” the group released their 1993 debut Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, which sold more than two million copies. Informed by extensive interviews with the group, Fernando’s narrative flows like a conversation as he charts the group’s meteoric rise and, eventually, its demise after “getting blackballed by New York’s Hot 97” in 1997 for “dissing” the station at its annual hip-hop fest. Still, the work ethic that defined the WTC continues to impress. As Fernando writes, “they changed not only their own lives... but... the way business was done in the music industry,” turning their W logo into “one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.” An undisputed labor of love, this is the account diehard fans have been waiting for. (July)