Popa Wu: A Clandestine Legend
In a new 10-part series set to premiere on Hulu next month called Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Popa Wu is one of the main attractions, who is sharing his narrations about the rise of Wu-Tang Clan.
“I’m the highlight of the movie. I had to because I’m the father of the clan,” Popa Wu said excitedly. “No one [came into the rap industry and] did what they did. It’s beautiful."
Wu Tang Clan released their first album in 1993, Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers—it's critically acclaimed, and noted as the greatest hip-hop album of all-time. Sacha Jenkins of CBS News said that Wu Tang Clan is the greatest rap group of all-time in an article published May 10, 2019, 25 years after Wu-Tang Clan debuted.
Honestly, whenever you hear the name alongside Wu-Tang Clan, it’s under the term, affiliate. However, he’s more than an acquaintance to the cavalry. Popa Wu is the nostalgic and unbridled patriarch of the group, who can tell you stories about growing up and living in the Staten Island (New York) projects, before Wu Tang Clan became the mega prodigies they are today. In fact, he’s a forbearer in a literal sense. “I’m the father of the Clan,” exclaimed Popa Wu, when asked to describe his role with the group. “When RZA was born, he was put into my arms as a baby. I always told him he was going to be a great man.”
‘We were church kids. We went to church, Monday through Friday, and if you didn’t go, you got your a** tore up,” laughs Popa Wu.
Popa Wu is older cousin to Rza, so it’s easy to recognize the reason he’s tightly-knit with the bunch. He’s also relative to Old Dirty Bastard and GZA. Popa Wu is more than a moniker or a mere acquaintance. He’s family, and really, a mentor to the troupe.
“This [Wu Tang] started from my house when we’d go to church, be exposed to gospel music and all of that. We as kids couldn’t go outside. All my aunts and uncles were singers, and that’s how we got entertained in the house on Fridays and Saturdays. When they [the adults] came back from their parties, or maybe they didn’t go because the party didn’t happen, they entertained us in the house and most of the parties they had were house parties.”
Popa Wu said that the he and the boys [Old Dirty Bastard, GZA, and RZA], all learned about the Five-Percent Nation once they got older and became educated on the viewpoint that man is God. Once RZA, Old Dirty Bastard, and GZA understood the significance of their power as black men, they formed a group called “The All-together Brothers.”
The urbane leader elaborated that he was also a musician in a group called Blue Magic. “I always had influence over music anyway. My entire family, they were musical geniuses. My uncle Peter was the first black person on the Ed Sullivan show; he had his own record shop back in the sixties when a black man didn’t have a record shop,” Popa Wu talked about the impact that his family had on the music culture. “You know in a house, you had a living room and a kitchen, we didn’t have a living room. We didn’t know what that was. In my grandma’s house, there were beds along the walls, and we had one piano in the room. We had a big dining room table downstairs. We all slept together, ate together and we prayed together. That’s what made the clan.”
Popa Wu is an impassioned oracle on the philosophy of The Five-Percent Nation (Nation of Gods and Earth). Without doubts, he’s mentor to the Wu-Tang Clan, and he’s responsible for much of their educations or practicalities with The Five-Percent Nation. His influence is so savant that his didactics is on Wu-Tang Forever. His spoken word is on tracks, Black Jesus, All I got Is You, The Blessing (Buddha Monk), Wu-Revolution, Iron Man (Ghost Face Killah), and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx North Star (Raekwon).”
Popa Wu released a solo album in 2000 called Visions Of The 10th Chamber. The album is a compilation of Wu-Tang artists like Method Man, Old Dirty Bastard, as well as affiliates such as LA The Darkman, just to give an example. Of course, Popa Wu blesses the album with his own subtext and teaching. He’s featured on Masta Killa’s second LP mix tape Made in Brooklyn, and Older Gods pt.2.
Popa Wu and Nahbi
Nahbi, who is Popa Wu’s manager, as well as lyricist under record label “The 10th
Chamber," says, “If you listen to the intro of Wu-Tang Revolution, it’s Popa Wu giving teachings. At the very end, there is a sample from a Kung Fu movie where they’re talking about getting more students for the different chambers. That’s what Popa Wu is doing now. Although there is a Wu-Tang Clan, there are so many extensions and so many elements including The 10th Chamber. Popa Wu has a new group called The Universal Killer Bees. I lead both groups. Popa Wu built a new movement that’s under the same principles as Wu-Tang Clan, and it will go into alignment with his book called “Birth of a Clan.”
Nahbi went on to say that Popa Wu was an avid mentor to Wu-Tang and other affiliates like Brooklyn Zu. He was tour DJ for Method Man when he signed to Def Jam. He was also road manager for Old Dirty Bastard. So, it's safe to assume that Popa Wu definitely had his finger on the pulse of Wu-Tang Clan. Currently, he is representative and spokesperson for the Five-Percent Nation.
While speaking to Popa Wu and Nahbi about the different rudiments of The 10th Chamber and Wu-Tang Killer Bees, it wasn’t hard to see the sculpting of something much more enterprising, which is a revolt that’s destined to take place one way or another with hungry artist, who want to keep the legacy going.
“We’re in the spirit of Wu-Tang, but we are not clones dropping music. They have the original already,” clarifies Nahbi, who is extremely excited about the direction of the groups.
As for The Birth of a Clan, it’s set to drop September 26, which will run concurrent with the Hulu Series, Wu Tang: An American Saga. Popa Wu said that he was inspired to write the book because he watched the men ascend to stardom, and that he felt responsible for them. Briefly, it’s time for him to tell his story.
In connection with a few other partners, Popa Wu is opening a hip-hop library in Queens, New York. The goal is to bridge the gap between rappers. “My next project after that, it’s going to be in the prisons,” shares Popa Wu, who is adamant about empowering and educating men beyond his immediate reach. “After the prison, I’m going to all the colleges, to discuss the history of Wu-Tang Clan.”
“People need to realize that they have purpose in the world. I tell everyone,” says Popa Wu. “The child you were, that is what makes you the man that you are today. If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going. You are not here to live for anyone’s expectations. It’s for you to be you, and let them be who they are. Once you fully grasp that, you will be fine with the world.”
Popa Wu: The Five Percent Nation
Follow Popa Wu here for information on book drop and music release.