“Wu-Tang An American Saga” Review: Is Hulu’s Wu-Tang Clan Series Good?

TJ Atoms as ODB | Hulu

TJ Atoms as ODB | Hulu

by Hulu Wu-Tang: an American saga catapults viewers into a mind-boggling world of drugs, neighborhood wars, and hip-hop without any explanation or introduction. This then gives way to a cinematic opening sequence that significantly sets it apart from its talking-head documentary companion, Showtime’s four-part series. Microphones and men, which premiered concurrently with the 25th anniversary of the Wu-Tang founding disc 36 bedrooms earlier this year. Set between the warring neighborhoods of Staten Island, Park Hill (aka Killer Hill) and Stapleton, the gritty new series, which recently launched its first three episodes on the streaming service, follows a motley group of New York artists who ultimately form one of the most influential music. all-time groups: Wu-Tang Clan.

The group is often touted as rap superheroes and has even been compared to the Avengers, so An American saga is a story worthy of a great drama about the origins of Wu-Tang, written and produced by the leading figure of the RZA group alongside Alex Tse (SuperFly, Watchmen). Viewers looking for out-of-the-box stars like RZA or Ghostface Killah will be greeted instead by Bobby Diggs (Ashton Sanders) or Dennis Coles (Siddiq Saunderson). Just how marvel Amazing Fantastic # 15 introduces readers to Peter Parker before they see Spider-Man in action, An American saga positions Wu-Tang members in their twenties, before they take the rap game by storm: as drug dealers, desperate dreamers, and young men trying to protect and support their families.

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Hulu / YouTube

For the majority of the characters, rap is an afterthought. The words “Wu-Tang Clan” aren’t even whispered by anyone until the second half of the 10-episode season, but there are bread crumbs throughout. While significant, these are flashy moments, like Ol ‘Dirty Bastard stumbling across his alleged stage name while flipping through clearance films at a record store. The development of the group is presented as an organic and long-term process. They hadn’t planned on coming up with a fun name or having a common favorite color in yellow (although they did). They bonded over old kung fu movies in Bobby’s basement and used the yellow whites of the local record store to differentiate their tapes, just like the drug dealers did with crack tops. , and An American saga uses these details as further characterization rather than as plot points. Their struggle to find a way to overcome the pitfalls of street life and become something more is the landmark story.

Even though you didn’t grow up listening 36 bedrooms Where Wu-Tang forever, watching the series without in-depth knowledge is still a lot of fun. While the group won’t come together fully for most of the season, there’s a lot of rap right out of the jump, and it may take an episode or two to get used to. Sure, the main characters perform covers of Wu-Tang-branded cuts, but everyone from prison inmates to anonymous street-code characters have the option to drop a few bars. The strong presence of rap in An American saga is a justified nuance that shows how intertwined freestyle was with street culture during the turn of the 90s and the height of the crack epidemic in New York City. This is not a musical with breaks for dance numbers; these guys were really rapping, no matter if they were trying to get a recording deal. Period piece in its essence, the jargon and wardrobe are vibrant, and many dotted patterns are still relevant today, such as shady label deals and police brutality. Tommy Boy Entertainment’s handling of RZA as young Prince Rakeem is reminiscent of De La Soul’s streaming conflict with the label earlier this year, and the choke a police officer uses to kill a character in the middle of the season is an unmistakable nod to the murder of Eric Garner in 2014.

Wu-tang an American saga
ODB (TJ Atoms) and RZA (Ashton Sanders) | Hulu

The line between real events and fictitious embellishment is weak here, but it is clear that An American saga is informed by the real life of Wu-Tang members. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah have been documented to come from opposing factions on Staten Island, but this series places them as two young men who are actively trying to kill each other. Knowing that they end up joining forces for the classic Only built 4 Cuban Linx … doesn’t take away from their intense conflict, but the characters’ mutual bloodlust for each other seems overdone. The murderous discord is a tall order for two characters to overcome as they come to some otherworldly synergy on wax. It’s improbable in reality, but entertaining nonetheless.

The performances of TJ Atoms as the gripping Ol ‘Dirty Bastard and Dave East as the cool but menacing Method Man stand out for An American saga, and Shameik Moore’s work as Chef Shallah Raewon is phenomenal. If he hasn’t been knighted as a representative of hip-hop in Hollywood yet, someone has to get there ASAP. His on-screen performance of “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” is an impressive recreation of Raekwon’s verse, and the fact that his namesake is mentioned on the song’s original recording makes the scene even cooler.

Just as Beyonce was able to channel Etta James into Cadillac Records, the actors truly embody their Wu-Tang counterparts. Joey Badass as Inspectah Deck and many other familiar faces, from Powerfrom Marcus Callender to If Beale Street could speak‘s Ebony Obsidian, complete the rest of the set. When one of them is on screen, the fame and personalities of the actors never overshadow their characters, whether they perform rap standards or deliver convincing back-and-forths with other characters. Atoms nails the signature spitty lisp of the constantly rocking golds and hilariously roasts RZA after a particularly squeaky a capella rendition of “See the Joy” (which, on its surface, is a song about cum), making it one performance that feels so ODB. Each Wu-Tang member was a distinct individual with their own goals, motivations, and style, and An American saga Successfully paints them as such, reinforcing how impressive it was for these nine young men to come together and make history.

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Joshua Robinson is a Thrillist contributor.

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