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The Wu-Tang Manual [Paperback]

The RZA , Chris Norris
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2005

Long awaited and much anticipated, The Wu-Tang Manual is The RZA’s first written introduction to the philosophy and history of Hip-Hop’s original Dynasty, the Wu-Tang Clan.

Since the release of the revolutionary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the course of four seminal group albums and a multitude of ambitious side projects — the Wu-Tang Clan has constantly redefined what hip-hop can do and where hip-hop can go. Now, after a decade of dark beats and mysterious lyrics hinting at a larger whole, the RZA, the abbot of the legendary Staten Island hip-hop collective, fully reveals, for the first time, the complex, multilayered Wu-Tang Universe in The Wu-Tang Manual.

Written in a style that is at once personal and philosophical, The Wu-Tang Manual unravels the intricate web of personalities (and alter egos), warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty. Packed with information that reflects the breadth and depth of the RZA’s — and rest of the Clan’s — intellectual interests and passions, The Wu-Tang Manual is divided into four books of nine chambers each, for a total of 36 chambers. All together, the book provides the breakdown of essential Wu-Tang components, from basic information about each of the nine core members of Wu-Tang Clan to deeper explorations of the key themes of the Wu-Tang universe, a dictionary-like Wu-Slang lexicon, and an entire section of Wu-Tang lyrics with densely annotated explanations of what they mean.

Elegantly laid-out and richly printed, the book is designed to reflect the Asian influence on the Wu-Tang universe, which, as the book explains, began with a fascination with kung-fu movies but quickly led to serious study of martial arts and Eastern philosophy and spirituality. The book also includes a map of Shaolin; a trove of never-before-seen photos of the Wu-Tang Clan, including shots of RZA’s trip to China with Sifu Shi Yan-Ming, live shots, and portraits-by Michael Lavine, Craig Wetherby, Sophia Chang, and Frank151; and original illustrations of many of the guiding lights of the Wu-Tang universe. For the hardcore Wu-Tang disciple and the recent initiate alike, The Wu-Tang Manual is the definitive guide to the essence of Wu, one of the most innovative hip-hop groups of all time.

The RZA's most recent book, The Tao of Wu, is also available from Riverhead Books.

Frequently Bought Together

The Wu-Tang Manual + The Tao of Wu + Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation
Price For All Three: CDN$ 42.56

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Product Description

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-In the late 1970s, Robert Diggs was growing up in a New York housing project. He spent his time with his many cousins and watching kung fu movies in Times Square. Later, he turned his interests in martial arts, spirituality, chess, comics, and rap music into one of the most successful rap groups of the 1990s-the Wu-Tang Clan. Named for a type of Shaolin martial arts, the Clan consists of Diggs-The RZA-two of his cousins, and six other members. The author shares all that went into making the group what it is, a curious mix of Eastern philosophy, supreme mathematics, capitalism, and, not least, talent. Nearly a quarter of the book is dedicated to lyrics, including a deep analysis of what each rapper meant. The Wu-Tang's lyrics are full of violence, drugs, and slang, but also well-executed metaphors, symbolism, and their philosophy realized. It's rare that rap lyrics are given this level of analysis, let alone in such a readable fashion. The book is full of photographs of the members and information about their work and interests, which include drugs, both legal and illegal. Even this topic is treated with intellectual detachment: "You can't say [drugs] are all bad or they're all good." (Sadly, since the book's publication, founding member ODB died from a drug-related incident.) Even though the Wu-Tang's greatest success came in the 1990s, they are still highly relevant and have many teen fans, all of whom will find something appealing in this account.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

The RZA is most famous as the founder and leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, the platinum-selling hip-hop group that is widely considered one of the most important of all time, and has also spanned multiplatinum solo careers for many of its members, including RZA. Originally from Staten Island, he is currently based in Los Angeles, where he has continued his music career while successfully branching out into lecturing, television, and film.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Wu-Tang niggas are famous for having lots of names, lots of pseudonyms and alter-egos. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Wu Manual April 8 2010
By Abee
The book was not in "New" condition as stated. Good service though, I received a full refund for the item.
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3.0 out of 5 stars STR8 Knowledge Jan. 6 2012
Very good and informative about the WU but was hoping for more a Tao of WU type book instead I got magazine-esque book.
Quality copy and great seller too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for Wu-Tang fans Nov. 9 2011
By bookman
This book is a porthole into the fascinating world of the WU. Lots of great information about the individuals and their personal backstories as well as some pics and lyrics. Well worth the read if you're a fan.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wu-mythos finally emerges as a whole Jan. 31 2005
By J. Chu - Published on Amazon.com
All I can say is, why'd it take so long?

Oh yeah, that's right. They were too busy releasing albums, touring, doing shows (and drugs), getting locked up, getting released, appearing on Chapelle's Show, making comic books, scoring movies, and growing the legend of the nine generals, to finish writing a book.

Wow. This is an astonishingly exhaustive work explicating fully the reasoning behind all the insane lyrics behind the Wu, plus the culture with which they were inculcated in their youth. I've been a Wu fan since around Killa Bees/Gravel Pit days, and my collection now includes nearly every group and solo album (less Deck's The Movement, some Cappadonna, U-God's stuff, and Immobilarity). As such a thorough fan, I'm highly impressed. Lyrics in their songs that I'd just skipped over before or barely acknowledged take on added depth and meaning with the Abbot's commentary.

And it's not just Wu-devotees that will find material in here to their liking. The book begins very simply, with biographies of each of the original nine swordsmen. Containing exhaustive lists of aliases (some of which I had -no- idea belonged to the emcee that they do), birthdates, anecdotes, and releases, these serve perfectly to introduce the reader to the individual rappers. From there, however, the book progresses into a deeper analysis of the underpinnings of Wu tradition, including looks at -all- their obvious influences (kung fu movies, mob movies, comic books, drug culture, etc.) and some less obvious ones (did you know that the famous Shaolin Sifu Shi Yanming is personal friends with RZA and Iron Man?). During a time when rap is seen as mere gangsterism and cliched thug-talk, RZA shows a blinding level of intellectualism and scholarship, drawing quotes from Nietzsche, the Hagakure, Lao Tze, and Charles Mingus (among others). He also explains the particular religion of the Five Percent Nation, and the Gods and the Earths.

Personally, as a producer and emcee in training, RZA's section on technical details and equipment was also very valuable - he discusses working with equipment very specifically, and details how he built the characteristic Wu style.

Coming as it does during a renaissance of Wu music (Pretty Tony Album, No Said Date, and the Wu live CD all having been well-received in the last year), The Manual both reassures the Wu-fanboy within me while also relighting the fire for the Shaolin Style.

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely essential for any Wu fan!! Feb. 1 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
This brilliant book, written by the RZA (aka the Abbot), goes into detail about pretty much everything about the Wu Tang including their musical/movie influences, their neighborhoods, the mythology of the 36 chambers (it's not just the name of their first album), and the philosophies regarding the 5 percent Nation and the tenents of the Nation of Gods and Earths. The RZA also breaks down the Shaolin fighting style and how Wu has incorporated this unique fighting style into their raps. He also gives an in-depth analysis of how the game of chess plays a crucial role in not only lyrical battles but also in terms of defeating enemies in real life. This guide/book also comes with a handy translation of some of the Wu's lexicon and slang. But the true gem of this book is the RZA's breaking down some of the lyrics of the Wu's most famous songs so that when the Rza spits "Connectin' Brooklyn/Shaol like the Verazanno -Narrows", you will know what he is talking about. I highly recommend this book to any true Wu fan!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING. April 13 2006
By E - Published on Amazon.com
The Wu-Tang Manual is akin to all the EU (Expanded Universe) novels, comic books, and publications related to the Star Wars franchise for a hip hop fan of one of the culture's biggest phenomenons ever. The Manual is chock full of EVERYTHING an intellectual listener and avid fan of the Wu would want to know: biographies, lyrics explanations, philosophy, music equipment, and spirituality.

The Wu-Tang started a new sound in hip hop in early '93: gritty, minimalistic, atonal, and lo-fi, all exemplified in the classic debut 'Enter: The Wu-Tang'. From then on, a legend was born: numerous solo albums from all nine members, even including the honorary tenth member Cappadonna, movies, television, touring, guest appearances on other artists' projects, RZA even composed music for the original soundtrack to the Tarantino's two-parter 'Kill Bill'. The Wu-Tang even have their own "Expanded Universe" of branch-off emcees and groups that rivals the amount of material in that of the Star Wars EU (e.g. Cilvaringz, Killah Priest, Sunz of Man, Black Knights, Killarmy, etc.). And they're STILL going strong with a slew of new albums already dropping (Ghost's awesome 'Fishscale', Sunz' 'Old Testament', etc.). The Wu-Tang Clan are HIP HOP LEGENDS, and this Manual chronicles the beginning of the movement all the way to the present, even chronicling the events that shaped the life of Robert Diggs (RZA), which would eventually also shape his movement.

To the initiated, [hip hop] heads know the Wu stand for something and they're some pretty deep brothers. RZA quotes everyone from Nietzsche to the Hagakure, a guide of bushido commentaries for the warrior (samurai). Being heavily into philosophy myself, I was really intrigued and exhilerated to read what some of the artist's actually meant behind some of their poetic verses. I saw this book at a mom 'n' pop store (Hasting's) in San Marcos and absolutely fell in love with it.

If you're into hip hop, you're more than likely a fan of the Wu as well, and if you are, YOU NEED THIS BOOK -- become more intimately knowledgeable of the legendary Clan and everything they stand for and how they came to be. "CLAN IN THE FRONT!"
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read Feb. 23 2005
By Erik Sternberger - Published on Amazon.com
I could not set this book down once I started reading it.

It is a great book for anyone who is new to the Wu. It startsoff with great little bios about each artist, but it quickly gets into Wu-history and philosophy that rewards any fan of the group and does what any comic/book/speaker does; it makes you want to explore what RZA's philosophy is even more. This book also, amazingly, does all this with no chest beating. RZA comes off proud, but humble. This is something that 95% of all modern musicians could never do.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RZA sharp July 27 2005
By T. Monteiro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of hip hop, an artist, a hustler or whatever, you would do well to read this book. RZA expands on the concepts of supreme mathematics, cinema, brotherhood, the music biz and most importantly philosophy. The book was very insightful and really explained the truth the birth of the Wu Tang, its members and its ideals. RZA is a true 21st century renaissance man. I was not the biggest Wu fan ever but I wanted to check this book out none the less and Im glad I did. Its not a especially long read but you will enjoy it if you are a fan of the culture. Pick this book up, it will be well worth it
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