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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
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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.