Originally started as a family act
of sorts. When Robert Diggs (RZA) and his mother moved to New York
, he started hanging out with his two cousins, Gary Grice Genius
and Russell Jones Ol' Dirty Bastard
The three kids spent lots of time reading comic books and watching kung-fu movies. Time went on an eventually the boys interest grew to include the Nation of Islam--particularly the Five Percent Nation and working the "street pharmacy". Their circle of friends by then included other guys that would eventually coalesce as the Wu-Tang Clan: Clifford Smith (Method Man), Dennis Coles (Ghostface Killah), Jason Hunter (Inspectah Deck), Lamont Hawkins (U-God), and Corey Woods (Raekwon), most of whom lived in the projects of Staten Island.
Individually and together several members pursued rap careers to varying degrees of success. By the early 90s luck had run out for most of the boys (Rakeem and Genius lost their recording contracts. In 1992, each of the guys threw in $100 and recorded a demo called "Protect Ya Neck/After the Laughter." Their formula was simple: kung fu samples, no chorus, and equal time on the mic. The group's name was taken from a series of Gordon Liu kung-fu flicks.
The Clan sold thousands of copies of their demo to mom and pop stores and other distributors. After a bidding war between major lables, the Clan signed with Loud Records in a deal that would allow them to record independant of each other. In 1993 they released , Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) which slowly went platinum. Several platinum solo efforts followed and in 1997, the Clan released Wu-Tang Forever which entered the charts at number one.
The group won a Grammy and The Clan made plans to tour with Rage Against the Machine which quickly fell apart because of missed tour dates and financial problems.
Undeterred, the Clan continued their solo work (with mediocre levels of success), supported other artists, made court appearances, spent time in rehab and even created a comic book and video game. In the summer of 2000, they launched a tour (minus Big Baby Jesus) and their third effort, titled The W is set to be released in November 2000.