Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men is a story of triumph over tragedy and overcoming the odds

Wu Tang Clan performs at the TRIBECA Film Festival ahead of the release of For Mics and Men.
Wu-Tang Clan performs at the TRIBECA Film Festival ahead of the release of Of Mics and Men. Pic credit: Tony Behar/SHOWTIME

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men dropped all four parts on Showtime Friday night, reminding hip hop fans how influential this group has been and how different they are.

The documentary-style series is a retelling of how these childhood friends came together despite — or possibly because of — enormous adversity to create some of the most powerful music of the ’90s.

It’s worth noting the size of Wu-Tang Clan itself makes their success a true feat. It’s nearly unheard of for a group that large to come together and create a sound completely new to the genre.

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Even in their case, there were many instances where it nearly didn’t happen. With Rza, a true leader with an organizational chart of a business, they were able to stay mostly organized, delivering a sound and message like no other before or after them.

Rza, Gza, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon the Chef, Ghostface Killah, U-God, Inspectah Deck, Cappadonna, and Masta Killah pulled off something that many born into similar situations were not able to do.

They wanted a better life — to escape the projects of Staten Island — and they did it all while becoming hip hop icons … and they did it their way.

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men uses old footage, interviews, and narration to tell the story in an honest and often gritty way. They don’t skip or skim over any of the tragedy, which is important since it was those hard times that framed much of what makes Wu-Tang Clan special.

Method Man retold the story of his family escaping his abusive father to the point where they even lived in a women’s shelter. Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s mother said she was “used to it” when asked how she was affected after being on a cell phone with her son while police were chasing after and shooting at him.

These stories prove the incredible odds this group overcame to become who they are today.

While so many were able to rise above, much time was spent talking about Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who tragically died of an overdose in 2004 at the age of 35.

Of all the members of Wu-Tang Clan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard seemed to struggle the most, spending time in and out of jail, struggling with addiction and even complaining that he was flat broke at one point.

It’s incredible how much of Wu-Tang Clan’s history is preserved on film and much is shared within the hours of this Showtime series. The retelling is sometimes fragmented and a bit chaotic, much like the group itself, but in that same vein, it is powerful.

From the early days as Wu-Tang Clan came together to their ultimate rise in the ’90s, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men tells the story in near-chronological order.

Due to the vastness of their 30-year history and the size of the group, four parts seem too short and honestly, they probably could have continued for double that and the story would have been just as compelling and hard not to watch in one sitting.

Ultimately, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men is a success story, a tale of overcoming the odds.

Even though the members ultimately went their own directions with solo projects, ending the group as we know it, their influence is still felt in hip hop and in fashion. While the series ended well before the present day, it’s clear their story isn’t over.

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (2019) Official Trailer | Premieres 5/10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

All four parts of Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men are now streaming on Showtime On-Demand.

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