The Tao of Wu

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From the founder of the Wu-Tang Clan—celebrating their 25th anniversary this year—an inspirational book for the hip hop fan.


The RZA, founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, imparts the lessons he's learned on his journey from the Staten Island projects to international superstardom. A devout student of knowledge in every form in which he's found it, he distills here the wisdom he's acquired into seven "pillars," each based on a formative event in his life-from the moment he first heard the call of hip-hop to the death of his cousin and Clan- mate, Russell Jones, aka ODB. Delivered in RZA's unmistakable style, at once surprising, profound, and provocative, The Tao of Wu is a spiritual memoir the world has never seen before, and will never see again. A nonfiction Siddhartha for the hip-hop generation from the author of The Wu-Tang Manual, it will enlighten, entertain, and inspire.
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About the author

The RZA is most famous as the founder and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, theplatinum-selling hip-hop group that is widely considered one of the mostimportant of all time, and has also spanned multiplatinum solo careers formany of its members, including RZA. Originally from Staten Island, he is currentlybased in Los Angeles, where he has continued his music career whilesuccessfully branching out into lecturing, television, and film.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Oct 15, 2009
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781101150955
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Music
Music / Genres & Styles / Rap & Hip Hop
Social Science / Popular Culture
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Tribe Called Quest • Beastie Boys • De La Soul • Eric B. & Rakim • The Fugees • KRS-One • Pete Rock & CL Smooth • Public Enemy • The Roots • Run-DMC • Wu-Tang Clan • and twenty-five more hip-hop immortals

It’s a sad fact: hip-hop album liners have always been reduced to a list of producer and sample credits, a publicity photo or two, and some hastily composed shout-outs. That’s a damn shame, because few outside the game know about the true creative forces behind influential masterpieces like PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions. . ., De La’s 3 Feet High and Rising, and Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). A longtime scribe for the hip-hop nation, Brian Coleman fills this void, and delivers a thrilling, knockout oral history of the albums that define this dynamic and iconoclastic art form.

The format: One chapter, one artist, one album, blow-by-blow and track-by-track, delivered straight from the original sources. Performers, producers, DJs, and b-boys–including Big Daddy Kane, Muggs and B-Real, Biz Markie, RZA, Ice-T, and Wyclef–step to the mic to talk about the influences, environment, equipment, samples, beats, beefs, and surprises that went into making each classic record. Studio craft and street smarts, sonic inspiration and skate ramps, triumph, tragedy, and take-out food–all played their part in creating these essential albums of the hip-hop canon.

Insightful, raucous, and addictive, Check the Technique transports you back to hip-hop’s golden age with the greatest artists of the ’80s and ’90s. This is the book that belongs on the stacks next to your wax.

“Brian Coleman’s writing is a lot like the albums he covers: direct, uproarious, and more than six-fifths genius.”
–Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

“All producers and hip-hop fans must read this book. It really shows how these albums were made and touches the music fiend in everyone.”
–DJ Evil Dee of Black Moon and Da Beatminerz

“A rarity in mainstream publishing: a truly essential rap history.”
–Ronin Ro, author of Have Gun Will Travel


From the Trade Paperback edition.
The extraordinary impact of hip-hop music on American culture over the past three decades is undeniable. At the forefront of this global phenomenon stand artists who broke new ground, both musically and politically. This unique reference provides substantial entries on the most revolutionary hip-hop artists and innovators, past and present, and offers in-depth coverage of each icon's influence in shaping hip-hop music. An essential reference for high school and public libraries, this encyclopedia will help students and interested readers uncover the historical and cultural framework of hip-hop as it extends to more recent artists.

From Run DMC, the legendary group credited with bringing rap to the mainstream, to Salt N Pepa, the first all-female groups to stake their claim in the male dominated world of hip-hop, to Kanye West's breakout career as a producer and rapper, this encyclopedia recovers the histories of important artists both inside and outside the hip-hop mainstream, all while examining the varied and ever-changing forms of the music. Comprehensive profiles are enhanced by sidebars highlighting such topics as rivalries between artists, the importance of geographic region, musical innovations (including sampling technologies), legal issues, media scandals, and wider phenomena, movements, or styles of hip-hop that were sparked by a particular artist or group.

Hip-hop fans will appreciate the critical analysis of the icons' social and cultural impact as well as issues of enduring significance, such as the influence of gangsta rap on youth culture. A timeline, a comprehensive introduction, numerous photos, and an extensive bibliography of print and electronic sources for further reading are included, making this encyclopedia a crucial reference for teachers and students interested in understanding the history and future of hip-hop music.

Hip hop is remarkably self-critical as a genre. In lyrics, rappers continue to debate the definition of hip hop and question where the line between underground artist and mainstream crossover is drawn, who owns the culture and who runs the industry, and most importantly, how to remain true to the culture's roots while also seeking fame and fortune. The tension between the desires to preserve hip hop's original culture and to create commercially successful music promotes a lyrical war of words between mainstream and underground artists that keeps hip hop very much alive today. In response to criticisms that hip hop has suffered or died in its transition to the mainstream, this book seeks to highlight and examine the ongoing dialogue among rap artists whose work describes their own careers.

Proclamations of hip hop's death have flooded the airwaves. The issue may have reached its boiling point in Nas's 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead. Nas's album is driven by nostalgia for a mythically pure moment in hip hop's history, when the music was motivated by artistic passion, instead of base commercialism. In the course of this same album, however, Nas himself brags about making money for his particular record label. These and similar contradictions are emblematic of the complex forces underlying the dialogue that keeps hip hop a vital element of our culture. Is Hip Hop Dead? seeks to illuminate the origins of hip hop nostalgia and examine how artists maintain control of their music and culture in the face of corporate record companies, government censorship, and the standardization of the rap image.

Many hip hop artists, both mainstream and underground, use their lyrics to engage in a complex dialogue about rhyme skills versus record sales, and commercialism versus culture. This ongoing dialogue invigorates hip hop and provides a common ground upon which we can reconsider many of the developments in the industry over the past 20 years. Building from black traditions that value knowledge gained from personal experience, rappers emphasize the importance of street knowledge and its role in forging a career in the music business. Lyrics adopt models of the self-made man narrative, yet reject the trajectories of white Americans like Benjamin Franklin who espoused values of prudence, diligence, and delayed gratification. Hip hop's narratives instead promote a more immediately viable gratification through crime and extend this criminal mentality to their work in the music business. Through the lens of hip hop, and the threats to hip hop culture, author Mickey Hess is able to confront a range of important issues, including race, class, criminality, authenticity, the media, and personal identity.

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