The videos for “Protect Ya Neck” and “Method Man” proved to be extremely popular on both BET and MTV, cracking the regular rotation on most of the former’s video shows and even got played on the latter’s regular daily video rotation outside of Yo! MTV Raps. Wu-Tang Clan’s debut LP dropped on the same exact day as A Tribe Called Quest’s third album, Midnight Marauders. What most people neglect to mention when discussing Enter The Wu-Tang is that it didn’t enter the charts high but it had steady sales for a protracted amount of time.
Each successive single and video for “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'”, “C.R.E.A.M”, “Can It All Be So Simple” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin’ Ta F*ck Wit” added to the album’s buzz and contributed to the album’s sustained sales numbers all throughout the rest of 1993 and well into 1995. The question remains, what exactly was it about the album that made it resonate with so many music fans and spread through word of mouth like it did?
First of all, Enter The Wu-Tang36 was spilt into two sides for the cassette version, side A was Shaolin Sword and side B was Wu-Tang Sword. The album incorporated things that much of the generation loved from Shaw Brothers Kung Fu films such as Five Deadly Venoms, Shaolin Vs. Wu Tang, Shaolin Executioner and Ten Tigers From Kwangtung. It had raw sounding, gritty beats that reminded them of the late 80s and right before the pop-rap and alternative rap eras happened.
The album sounded nothing like The Chronic; it even had some songs on it that sounded like demos such as “Clan In Da Front” and “Tearz.” Just as the sonics were unique to the market due to the skits and Kung Fu film dialogue, the WTC’s were all distinct individuals. Ghostface Killah used to appear in videos with a makeshift mask made of a stocking. They all rapped about drug dealing and street tales but rather than glorify the lifestyle, they used it to tell the story of their transition out of that life into their present ones.
While people nowadays have it in their heads that Enter The Wu-Tang was a huge sales success out the gate, the truth is it really wasn’t. The album actually peaked at #41 on the Billboard 200. Only two of the singles on Enter The Wu-Tang even managed to crack the Billboard 100 (“Method Man” & “C.R.E.A.M”) and it took more than 18 months for it to go platinum. The real power of classic album was in its influence over the rest of the rap game and how it springboarded the Wu-Tang Clan’s individual members into prominence.