The Best Verse From Every Song On 'Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)'
November 13, 2013 - 6:34 pm
1. Bring Da Ruckus – Ghostface Killah
If GZA is the head and RZA is the brain of the Wu, then Tony Starks is the mouth. Boasting, bugged out, and wearing a stocking cap over his face to avoid arrest, it was only right that a character like Ghost spark up Wu-Tang’s debut album. His opening lines will stand the test of time; they’ve already crossed mountains and deserts to reach people in remote corners of the earth, and as the globe gets smaller, the Wu will get bigger. It all began with Ghost’s larger-than-life charisma.
2. Shame on a N*gga – Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Method Man brings a captivating elastic flow to the second track, but we all know who this song belongs to. The guy with the ol’ loco style from his vocal. It’s a contribution that’s cemented in the book of all time most memorable Wu-Tang verses, and it’s the first instance that we hear a Wu-Tang member admit to having an STD in the past. Yikes.
3. Clan In Da Front – GZA (1st Verse)
This one is basically decided for you, considering that GZA is the only rapper on the song, but you have your choice of his first or second verse. There is also a small group of historic references that makes the first verse stand out, especially Ella Fitzgerald, Geraldine Ferraro, and Bernhard Goetz. Hard to deny the, “What’s that in your pants? Aaah human feces!” line from the second verse, but the first one takes the cake.
4. Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber – Ghostface Killah
The Charmels sample for “C.R.E.A.M.” plays in the background of the intro before this slamming cut sports verses from seven members. You could say INS killed it with “I leave the mic in body bags, my rap style has the force…”, or you might be partial to ODB’s cockeyed question, “Are you a warrior? Killer? Slice ya shit like a samurai”. GZA puts up a fight by splitting a dude’s back like a Dutch Master, but it’s Ghost for the win on here: “I’m raw, I’m rugged and raw, I repeat / When I die, my seed’ll be ill like me”. A mission statement embedded in blood.
5. Can It Be All So Simple - Raekwon
Rae and Ghost Unite for the first time in recorded history. The Chef had a simpler style on the first Wu-Tang album, but as Raekwon developed through his career, he became a much more complex MC, especially on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ironman, and Wu-Tang Forever. Ghost was considered one of the illest in the group early on, but Rae takes the cake here. From his opening bars to shooting “that’s that shit! in the bloodstream”, his verse has more animation and a wider range of flows than Ghost flexes in his nonetheless impressive second verse.
6. Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ – Ghostface Killah
If Enter The Wu-Tang is an elegant feast of grimey verses, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin” is the centerpiece on the table, a grounding reference point for every other song. It’s nearly impossible to choose the best verse on here; ODB name checks Jacques Cousteau, U-God has the classic opening line of “Raw I’ma give it to ya, with no trivia…”, and INS casually strolls in with, “Well I’m the sire, I set the microphone on fire”, but no one has the raw energy of Ghostface on here. He sounds like he’s about to smack you through the headphones when he bursts onto the scene with “Speaking of the devil, psyche! No it’s the God, get the shit right”. His whole verse is one of the best on the entire album (and his introduction via ODB is another unforgettable Wu moment).
7. Wu-Tang Clain Ain’t Nuthin Ta F’ Wit – Method Man
Next is Wu-Tang’s mission statement, the one idea that they wanted people to take away from the album. RZA, Inspectah Deck, and Meth are featured here, and it’s obvious who the focus of the song is. As the anointed star of the group early on, Meth was always more concerned with being raw than being pop. The flows are fluid here, as he chops up “styles, conditions, bizarre, bizarre” at the beginning and ends with that old grade-school adage about being rubber. A playful yet intricate verse that shows why Meth was granted star status.
8. C.R.E.A.M. – Inspectah Deck
Now the Charmels come back full force for this perennial classic. Rae does his thing, pulling out gats for fun and making his way up fire escapes, but nothing is as touching Inspectah’s verse here. He’s had tons of lines from the verse sampled and quoted by artists after him, and it’s no surprise: it’s one of the top three verses on the album. From snapshots of smoking bones in the staircase, to the bleak realization that life as a shorty shouldn’t be so rough, INS captured what it was like to live in a volatile environment and shared his vivid image with the world.
9. M.E.T.H.O.D. M.A.N. – Method Man (2nd Verse)
Did you know that the hook to this song was actually referencing a Hall & Oates song, “Method of Modern Love”? I didn’t until yesterday. Anyway, this is obviously Meth’s solo cut, so take your pick between green, eggs, and ham and getting lifted while he kicks ballistics. Both verses are almost identically skillful, but the second verse beats out the first for his experimentation with the English language (“Chim chimmeny, chim chim cherie”) and the words that he spells out.
10. Protect Ya Neck – GZA
The illest posse cut of all time, and the first single that the Wu ever released on wax. It’s not embellishment to say that any verse could be the best one; there are at least four verses that hold equal amounts of heat. RZA stands out for wanting to know where the children are at 10 PM (plus “crazy flamboyant for the rap enjoyment” is a such a dope thing to say) and everybody knows ODB’s verse by heart, but it comes down to the two bookend verses, INS and GZA. Deck delivers what might be the best opening bars of his career with, “I smoke on the mic like smokin’ Joe Frazier / the hell raiser, raised hell with the flavor”, and he continues to dismember the beat, but GZA pulls the rug out from under him with one line: “First of all, who’s your A&R? / A mountain climber who plays an electric guitar? But he don’t know the meaning of dope / when he’s looking for a suit and tie rap that’s cleaner than a bar of soap”. Nothing is fucking with that.
11. Tearz - RZA
Completing the trinity of mellow tracks from Wu-Tang, this was the b-side for Wu’s first single, “Protect Ya Neck” and the final original track for the album, minus the “7th Chamber” remix that comes after it. RZA and Ghost spin stories of tragedy, and it’s another neck and neck competition. Technically, Ghost has the superior verse and sharper flow but RZA’s emotive delivery wins out, whether it be with, “Cause I dropped him, Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!” or his operatic outburst when he sees his man laying dead on the floor: “I ran frantically, then I dropped down to his feet / I saw blood, all over, the hot concrete / I picked him up, then I held him by his head, His eyes shut, that’s when I knew he was…Aw Man! How do I say goodbye? It’s always the good ones that have to die”. It’s like you’re watching a performance of a Shakespeare play right before your very eyes.