The Wu-Tang Clan
/'wu?tæ?/ is an American hip hop group from New York City, originally composed of East Coast rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. The group was formed in (and are associated with) the New York City borough of Staten Island (U-God, Method Man, RZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon) (referred to by members as "Shaolin"), though some of their members are from Brooklyn (Ol Dirty Bastard, GZA and Masta Killa). They are frequently joined by fellow American rapper and childhood friend Cappadonna, a quasi-member of the group.They have introduced and launched the careers of affiliated artists and groups, often collectively known as the Wu-Tang Killa Bees, and in 2008, About.com ranked them the No. 1 greatest hip hop group of all time, and stated "No weapon in hip-hop history can rival the chaotic cohesion of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Clan had so many characters, each with his own eccentricities. They were fearless in their approach. There's a good reason no group has been able to successfully recreate their sound. The crew spawned countless loosely associated acts. Their classic albums spawned classic albums." Kris Ex of Rolling Stone
called Wu-Tang Clan "the best rap group ever." In 2004, NME
hailed them as one of the most influential groups of the last ten years.Foundation and name
All In Together Now was never signed to a record label. See, me, GZA and ODB had a crew called FOI: Force Of The Imperial Master, nah mean? We made a song, called "All in Together Now", which became famous on tapes throughout Brooklyn, Downtown Staten Island, New York, all the way down to Miami. I remember Biz Markie, when he was famous and I wasn't famous, and he was like: "Yo! I heard that shit! Your song with Ason Unique and the Specialist." I was the Scientist. So we never got signed as a group back then. We never had a serious record deal under that title.—RZA
The Wu-Tang Clan was assembled in the early 1990s with RZA as the de facto
leader and the group's producer. RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard adopted the name for the group after the film Shaolin and Wu Tang
. The group's debut album loosely adopted a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang theme, dividing the album into Shaolin and Wu-Tang sections.The group developed backronyms for the name (as hip hop pioneers such as KRS-One and Big Daddy Kane did with their names), including "We Usually Take All Niggas' Garments", "Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game", and "Wisdom of the Universe, and the Truth of Allah for the Nation of the Gods".
1992-96: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and solo albums
The Wu-Tang Clan first became known in 1993 following the release of the independent single "Protect Ya Neck", which immediately gave the group a sizable underground following, especially after their tour with Kat Nu and Cypress Hill. Though there was some difficulty in finding a record label that would sign the Wu-Tang Clan while still allowing each member to record solo albums with other labels, Loud/RCA finally agreed, releasing their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
, in November 1993. This album turned out to be critically acclaimed, and to date is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. The success of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers
established the group as a creative and influential force in mid-1990s hip hop, allowing Ol' Dirty Bastard, GZA, RZA, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah to negotiate solo contracts. RZA spoke on the Wu-Tang Clan's unorthodox business model:
We reinvented the way hip hop was structured, and what I mean is, you have a group signed to a label, yet the infrastructure of our deal was like anyone else's [...\] We still could negotiate with any label we wanted, like Meth went with Def Jam, Rae stayed with Loud, Ghost went with Sony, GZA went with Geffen Records, feel me? [...\] And all these labels still put "Razor Sharp Records" on the credits [...\] Wu Tang was a financial movement. So what do you wanna diversify...? [...\] Your assets?—RZA
1994-96: First round of solo albums
RZA was the first to follow up on the success of Enter the Wu-Tang
with a side project, founding the Gravediggaz with Prince Paul and Frukwan (both of Stetsasonic) and Poetic. The Gravediggaz released 6 Feet Deep
in August 1994, which became one of the best known works to emerge from hip hop's small sub-genre of horrorcore.It had always been planned for Method Man to be the first breakout star from the group's lineup, with the b-side of the first single being his now-classic eponymous solo track. In November 1994 his solo album Tical
was released. It was entirely produced by RZA, who for the most part continued with the grimy, raw textures he explored on 36 Chambers
. RZA's hands-on approach to Tical
extended beyond his merely creating the beats to devising song concepts and structures. The track "All I Need" from Tical
was the winner of the "Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group" at the 1995 Grammy Awards.After the release of Method Man's Tical
, Ol' Dirty Bastard was the next member to launch a solo career. His debut album Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version
was released in March 1995, and is considered a hip hop classic.Late summer, and early fall of 1995 saw the release of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
, and GZA's Liquid Swords
, which would turn out to be the group's two most significant and well-received solo projects. Cuban Linx
was a diverse, theatrical criminological epic that saw RZA move away from the raw, stripped-down beats of the early albums and towards a richer, cinematic sound more reliant on strings and classic soul samples. The album is highly notable in that it revived, and expanded the Mafioso rap sub-genre, which started to decline several years beforehand. Lavish living and the crime underworld are referenced throughout using quotes from the John Woo movie The Killer
, with the mystique of the Wu-Tang Clan deepened by the adoption of crime boss aliases and the crew name Wu-Gambinos. The album introduced a flurry of slang words to the rap lexicon, and many artists have gone on to imitate its materialism. Cuban Linx
featured all but one Wu member, and featured the debut from close Wu-Tang affiliate Cappadonna. The album also featured rapper Nas, who was the first non-Wu-Tang-affiliated MC to appear on a Wu-Tang Clan album. GZA's Liquid Swords
had a similar focus on inner-city criminology akin to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
, but it was far darker, both in GZA's grim lyrics and in the ominous, foreboding production that saw RZA experimenting more with keyboards than ever before. Liquid Swords
features guest appearances from every Wu-Tang Clan member, and is linked together by excerpts from the movie Shogun Assassin
. 1995 also saw the release of the Wu Wear clothing line, which would turn out to be massively successful, and influential on hip hop culture. It initially started as a mere way to make money from the demand for bootleg Wu-Tang Clan shirts, and evolved into an extensive collection of designer garments. Soon, other hip hop artists were making similar ventures and by the mid-2000s, a clothing line was almost a prerequisite for hip hop superstardom, with clothing lines launched by Puff Daddy, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Ludacris, 50 Cent, and more.Almost a year after the release of Liquid Swords
, Ghostface Killah released his first solo album, Ironman
in late October 1996. The album struck a balance between the sinister keyboard-laden textures of Liquid Swords
and the sentimental soul samples of Cuban Linx
, while Ghostface himself explored new territory as a lyricist. Ironman
was critically acclaimed and is still widely considered to be one of the best of Wu-Tang solo albums. Although the 1994–1996 albums were released as solo, RZA's presence behind the production, and the large number of guest appearances from other Wu-Tang Clan members has rendered them to be mostly all-round group efforts.In 1996, the group appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, America Is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Coolio, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine.
1997-2000: Wu-Tang Forever and diversification
With their solo careers firmly established, the Wu-Tang Clan reassembled to release the highly anticipated Grammy-nominated multiplatinum double album Wu-Tang Forever
in June 1997, debuting at number one on the Billboard Charts. This event was featured in a CNN roundup for the extraordinary sales the group achieved without a mainstream sound or commercial appeal. The album's first single, "Triumph", was over five minutes long, featured nine verses (one from each member plus Cappadonna and excluding ODB who appeared on the intro and bridge), and no hook or a repeated phrase. The sound of the album built significantly on the previous three solo albums, with RZA using more keyboards and string samples, as well as, for the first time, assigning some of the album's production to his protégés True Master and 4th Disciple. The group's lyrics differed significantly from those of 36 Chambers
, with many verses written in a dense stream of consciousness form heavily influenced by the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the album has sold over 8.3 million copies to date worldwide.Wu-Tang Forever
also marked the end of RZA's "five-year plan". After ...Forever'
s success, RZA ceased to oversee all aspects of Wu-Tang product as he had done previously, delegating much of his existing role to associates such as Oliver "Power" Grant and his brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs. This move was designed to expand Wu-Tang's reach in the industry and take advantage of financial opportunities for the group. In keeping with this move, an array of Wu-Tang products (both musical and otherwise) were to be released over the next two years.Following Wu-Tang Forever
, the focus of the Wu-Tang empire largely shifted to the promoting of emerging affiliated artists. The group's close associate Cappadonna followed the group project with March 1998's The Pillage
. Soon after, Killah Priest, another close associate of the Clan, released Heavy Mental
to great critical acclaim. Affiliated groups Sunz of Man and Killarmy also released well-received albums, followed by Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm
—a compilation album showcasing these and more Wu-affiliated artists, and including new solo tracks from the group members themselves. The Swarm
sold well and was certified gold.There was also a long line of releases from secondary affiliates such as Popa Wu, Shyheim, GP Wu, and Wu-Syndicate. Second albums from Gravediggaz and Killarmy, as well as a greatest hits album and a b-sides compilation also eventually saw release.
1998-2000: Second round of solo albums
While this round was commercially successful, it was not as critically acclaimed as its predecessor. The second round of solo albums from Wu-Tang saw second efforts from the five members who had already released albums, as well as debuts from all the remaining members, with the exception of Masta Killa. In the space of two years, RZA's Bobby Digital In Stereo
, Method Man Tical 2000: Judgement Day
(with Redman), GZA's Beneath the Surface
, Ol' Dirty Bastard's Nigga Please
, U-God's Golden Arms Redemption
, Raekwon's Immobilarity
, Ghostface Killah's Supreme Clientele
and Inspectah Deck's Uncontrolled Substance
were all released (seven of them being released in the space of seven months between June 1999 and January 2000). RZA also composed the score for the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
, directed by Jim Jarmusch, while he and other Wu-Tang members contributed music to a companion "music inspired by the film" album.The avalanche of Wu-Tang product between 1997 and 2000 was considered by some critics to have resulted in an oversaturation that was responsible for Wu-Tang's decline in popularity, or at least in critical regard during that time period. Reviews such as Melody Maker'
s writeup on Ghostface Killah's Supreme Clientele
in January 2000 which began "Another month, another Wu-Tang side project" revealed critics' exhaustion at the Clan's prodigious output. The overall reception for the second round of Clan member solo albums was decidedly mixed if largely positive, and they did not live up to their pre-...Forever
forebears critically.Occasional albums would still receive critical acclaim (Ghostface Killah's Supreme Clientele
being one of them, is regarded as one of the best solo efforts from the Clan) while Method Man and ODB remained popular in their own right as solo artists, and Wu-Tang remained as a well known force, but they had seemingly lost the ability to excite the music world in the way they had throughout the earlier, and mid-1990s.Many fans and critics also bemoaned the lack of RZA's input on the post-...Forever
solo albums, which were mostly produced by the Wu-Element producers, other lower-ranking affiliates, or by outside producers such as the Trackmasters or the Neptunes.
2000-01: The W, Iron Flag and New Millennium
The group reconvened once again to make The W
, though without Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was at the time incarcerated in California for violating the terms of his probation. Though incarcerated, ODB managed to make it onto the track "Conditioner" which featured Snoop Dogg. ODB's vocals were recorded via the telephones used for inmates to talk with visitors, while in prison. The W
was mostly well received by critics, particularly for The RZA's production, and also gave the group a hit single with the uptempo "Gravel Pit", part of a trilogy of videos where the group would visit different eras with a time traveling elevator, which also included "Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)" and "Careful (Click, Click)", which were then followed by "I Can't Go to Sleep" featuring Isaac Hayes. The album would go on to reach double platinum status.Shortly before the release of The W
, ODB escaped custody while being transported from a rehab center to a Los Angeles court and was considered a fugitive. At a record release party for The W
, ODB appeared with his face hidden by an orange parka, and was not recognized until introduced to the crowd. With police officers present outside, ODB performed briefly and then fled, fearing capture. Six days later ODB caused a commotion, signing autographs in a McDonald's at Broad & Girard Street in North Philadelphia. Unaware of who was causing the commotion, the manager called the police. When the law arrived, ODB mistook them for fans until they drew their guns. ODB fled the facility, but was stopped while trying to start his vehicle. After presenting a fake ID, he admitted his real identity, and was arrested.
In 2001, the Wu-Tang Clan released Iron Flag
, an album which made extensive use of outside producers and guests. Its crossover vibe and features, including Ron Isley, Flavor Flav, and prominent producers Trackmasters, marked it as a lighter fare; while critically praised, it gained a less than stellar reputation with fans. Group member Ghostface Killah would later denounce the record.While originally featured on the cover of Iron Flag
, Cappadonna was airbrushed out of the artwork and absent from the album entirely. This may be related to tension that arose within the group when it was revealed that Cappadonna's manager was, or had been, a police informant, a revelation that also brought on the manager's subsequent firing. Cappadonna would however, continue collaborating and touring with the group in the upcoming years.Around this time Method Man began his acting career, along with close collaborator Redman, by starring in the stoner comedy film How High
2004: Legal issues, death of Ol' Dirty Bastard and resurgence
In early 2004, U-God apparently left the group in disgust. A DVD titled Rise of a Fallen Soldier
was released detailing his problems, which were mostly with his treatment by RZA, who he claimed had hindered his success as a solo artist. He also formed a new group of young protegés called the Hillside Scramblers, with whom he released the album U-Godzilla Presents the Hillside Scramblers
in March 2004. The dispute culminated in a heated phone conversation between RZA and U-God on live radio, which ultimately saw the two reconcile. He has since returned to the group and is heavily featured on solo albums, Wu albums, and projects.
Live and Best-Of albums
2004 saw the unexpected return of the Clan to the live stage. They embarked on a short European tour before coming together as a complete group for the first time in several years to headline the Rock the Bells festival in California. The concert was released on CD shortly afterwards under the name Disciples of the 36 Chambers: Chapter 1
. At this time they also released a music-video greatest hits album named Legend of the Wu-Tang Clan
Death of Ol' Dirty Bastard
Ol' Dirty Bastard's career in Wu-Tang was marked by wild and criminal behavior. At the 1998 Grammy Awards, he protested the Clan's loss (in Best Rap Album) by interrupting Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for her Song of the Year award. ODB was also arrested several times for a variety of offenses, including assault, shoplifting, wearing body armor after being convicted of a felony, and possession of cocaine. He was also in trouble for missing multiple court dates. In late 2000, Ol' Dirty Bastard unexpectedly escaped near the end of his rehab sentence, spending one month on the run as a fugitive before showing up on stage at the record release party for The W
in New York City. Ol' Dirty Bastard managed to escape the club but was later captured by police in a McDonald's parking lot in Philadelphia and sent to New York to face charges of cocaine possession. In April 2001, he was sentenced to two to four years in prison. Once released from prison, he signed a one million dollar contract with Roc-a-Fella Records.On November 13, 2004 – A date he was scheduled to perform with the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan at a reunion concert at Continental Airlines Arena, ODB collapsed at Wu-Tang's recording studio, 36 Chambers on West 34th Street in New York City. He was pronounced dead later that night, just two days shy of his 36th birthday. His funeral service was held at Brooklyn's Christian Cultural Center.Wu-Tang has paid him homage on more than one occasion. In August 2006, one of his sons came out at a Wu-Tang concert at Webster Hall and rapped "Brooklyn Zoo", along with his mother. Also during a concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom the Clan brought his mother out on stage while the entire occupancy sang along to "Shimmy Shimmy Ya".A posthumous official mixtape titled Osirus
featuring many new songs was released in March 2005, while ODB's Roc-A-Fella album A Son Unique
was originally scheduled for release in 2005, but encountered numerous delays. It was then scheduled for a release on November 7, 2006 to commemorate the second anniversary of his death, however this did not happen. It was released on November 7, 2009, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of ODB's death. It was distributed by the Dame Dash Music Group.
VH1 Hip Hop honors
Moments before the Wu-Tang Clan was set to perform at the 2006 Hip Hop Honors, things turned violent with an altercation involving Oli "Power" Grant and a former associate who was suing the group.While initial reports stated that Nick Brown was along for the ride and got arrested for possession of cocaine, the group had issues with VH1's security staff, an actual confrontation took place between True Master and Power in a VIP area of the venue, said Power. "I ain't even gonna glorify that to no type of degree, but the bottom line was, yeah, you know there was a minor little altercation over there", Power said. "I see him and he's in the VIP on the strength of Wu-Tang so I kind of reacted, be it right or wrong... fuck!" The brief altercation between the two men resulted in a tense situation and ended with Power leaving the Hammerstein Ballroom. "I ain't even have to leave. I just stood there and talked for, like five or ten minutes. I made sure the rest of my people was able to stay because I told them, 'look if it was anything then let it be my problem. Let them go ahead and finish doing what they do.' I walked out the front, girls started taking some snapshots." No charges have been pressed against Oli "Power" Grant or anyone else affiliated with the Clan in relation to this incident.
2006-10: Fourth round of solo albums and 8 Diagrams
2005 saw the release of RZA's first book, The Wu-Tang Manual
, the release of U-God's second album, Mr. Xcitement
and the long-awaited collaboration between GZA and producer DJ Muggs, entitled Grandmasters
. The collaborative record received good reviews and played fairly well with fans, who by and large had been waiting to see the Wu step up the quality of their releases.On March 28, 2006, Ghostface Killah released the street rap-oriented Fishscale
, to much critical acclaim and some commercial success. The entire Clan, including Cappadonna and the deceased ODB, appeared on the track "9 Milli Bros". The album also offered an expansion of Ghostface's traditional sound—precipitated by the moderately successful club song "Be Easy" and battle rhymes in the Just Blaze-produced "The Champ". After its reception from fans, label Def Jam asked Ghost to release another album that year; the result, More Fish
, excited fans and critics somewhat less.On June 25, 2006, Inspectah Deck released a street album entitled The Resident Patient
, a prelude to his upcoming album, titled The Rebellion
, which is said to be his final solo album. Late summer of 2006 saw the release of Masta Killa's second studio album, Made in Brooklyn
, to lukewarm reviews, as well as Method Man's 4:21... the Day After
, on which the rapper endeavored to make up for the poor response to Tical 0: The Prequel.
Around this time, he was heavily featured in the media due to his displeasure with Def Jam's handling of his previous project. Despite what the rapper felt to be little promotion compared to other Def Jam artists, 421...
debuted in the Billboard Top Ten, and received much greater reviews than those of his previous album. Method Man also made the decision to fall back from Hollywood, and to only do acting work on films being handled by close friends.The summer of 2007 was the original release date scheduled for Raekwon's long-anticipated sequel to his 1995 debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
, entitled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
. The album was to be released on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, however, it would turn out to be released on Raekwon's Ice H2O Records, and EMI on September 8, 2009, after numerous delays.Ghostface Killah released his seventh full length album The Big Doe Rehab
in December 2007, and exactly one week later, Wu-Tang released their fifth full length group album entitled 8 Diagrams
on Steve Rifkind's SRC Records, whose now-defunct Loud Records released the group's four previous albums. In an interview with MTV.com, Ghostface Killah stated that he was upset with RZA for starting the 8 Diagrams
project while he was in the middle of writing and recording The Big Doe Rehab
, and further upset with RZA for giving 8 Diagrams
the same release date as The Big Doe Rehab
, for which RZA re-scheduled a release date one week later. The final outcome of 8 Diagrams
received mixed views from both fans and critics, and is regarded as being RZA's most experimental work to date. Both Raekwon and Ghostface Killah were unhappy with the album, and proposed recording a group album titled "Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang" without RZA production.In the summer of 2008, RZA released Digi Snacks
, which was another Bobby Digital album. He used the album primarily to put over lesser-known Wu-Tang Clan affiliates such as Freemurder, Killa Sin, Black Knights and others. The summer of 2008 also saw the release of GZA's Pro Tools
album.Almost a year later, U-God released his third solo album entitled Dopium
, which features guest appearances from several Wu-Tang members, and affiliates, among others, and was met with mostly lukewarm reviews. Released one week later was Wu-Tang Chamber Music
, a side project executively produced by RZA, featuring live instrumentation from a Brooklyn soul band called The Revelations. The album features appearances from five Wu-Tang members, along with New York City mainstays AZ, Kool G Rap, Cormega, Havoc, Sean Price, and M.O.P. The first single from Chamber Music
was a track titled "Harbor Masters" featuring Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and AZ. To clear up confusion, RZA spoke about the album to Billboard.com:September 2009 saw the release of the long anticipated album; Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
which features guest appearances from several big name artists, and Clan members, with Ghostface being the most prominent, and also production from RZA, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, and J Dilla, among others. The album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and at number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and has been praised by most music critics. Several weeks later, Ghostface released Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
, which is a hip hop/R&B album.Talk of the album Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
re-surfaced in July 2009; originally planned as a full-on Wu album without RZA's input, the project evolved to include RZA from an MC standpoint, without contributing to production. Raekwon stated:Speaking to MTV.com, Method Man revealed his, Ghostface Killah's and Raekwon's plans to record a separate album as a trio:Soon after, Ghostface Killah cemented the details: the record—featuring other Wu-Tang Clan members—will consist primarily of him, Method Man, and Raekwon. The title, as announced in three separate trailers (directed by Rik Cordero) promoting the upcoming release, is Wu-Massacre
. Speaking on their willingness to complete the album, Ghost said the three would begin recording within the next few months and estimated the release date to be the end of 2009 or January 2010.More recently, it was announced that the album would be pushed back from December to March 30, 2010; the single, "Meth vs. Chef Part II," was released after the announcement. Produced by Mathematics, it is an update of the song "Meth vs. Chef" from Method Man's first solo album, Tical
, featuring verses by only Method Man and Raekwon. It had been confirmed by Raekwon that Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
would in fact be his next solo album and that Wu-Massacre
is a separate project, while the rapper stated that he himself had petitioned to have Wu-Massacre'
s release date postponed in order to yield more studio time.On February 25, 2011,Wu Tang Live At The Palladium NYC was released through the groups official Facebook page as a collectors digital download. This included exclusive, unreleased freestyles. It was limited to 100 downloads before the page was disabled after this figure was reached.
In September 2008, RZA announced that he had inked a deal with digital music company The Orchard to release the Wu-Tang Clan's back catalogue worldwide digitally, for the first time. In addition to forthcoming material, the Wu-Tang Clan's catalogue includes 13 previous releases that have been previously unavailable digitally, including recordings by the group as a whole, U-God, Wu-Syndicate, Killarmy, Shyheim, West Coast Killa Beez, Black Knights and others, and will be available online beginning September 23. "The time is right to bring some older Wu material to the masses digitally," said RZA, de facto leader of Wu-Tang Clan. "Our fans have been dedicated and patient and they're hungry to hear the music that has set us apart from so many others. Hip-hop is alive in Wu Music, and with The Orchard, we've got a solid partner that understands our audience and is committed to doing all they can to help us reach the fans. I'm definitely looking forward to working with them to see what else we all come up with. There's much more to come."
Gerald K. Barclay directed the Wu-Tang documentary, entitled Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan
, which premiered on BET on November 13, 2008. The documentary was released on DVD on November 18, 2008. On November 10, 2009 a documentary on Ol' Dirty Bastard was released entitled; Dirty: The Official ODB Biography
. The documentary features interviews and stories from his family members, Wu-Tang members, and affiliates, as well as old interviews with Ol' Dirty, and live performances.Wu Tang Saga
, featuring footage of the Clan dating back to the early nineties through their most recent tours was released on February 25, 2010.
2011–present: A Better Tomorrow
On June 29, 2011, Raekwon announced that the group were working on a new studio album, still in early stages. Ghostface Killah later revealed in an interview during their European Rebirth Tour that the album should hit the shelves in May 2012. However in a recent interview with Pitchfork GZA said "we haven't been on the same page in years," adding, "It is what it is. Sometimes that match burns out... I don't feel bad about it. It's good. I'm grateful for everything we have done throughout our careers and if there's nothing else to put out, then there's nothing to put out," hinting that a new album is unlikely.In an interview with Sway In The Morning on October 10, RZA hinted that a new Wu-Tang Clan album might actually be happening after all, "November 2013 – that’s our 20-year anniversary,” RZA said. “So I told the brothers we should definitely come together and maybe do something to close the book. So we’ve been building about it. If life permits and the energy is proper maybe next year on the same date or the same time we put out 36 Chambers, we’ll put out a final chapter of recorded music.” Raekwon would later show doubt in the album happening saying every member needs to take certain steps so the album could be made but he would be all for it. On January 9, 2013, work on the sixth Wu-Tang Clan album was announced via the group's official Facebook page. In early March 2013 Method Man announced that the Clan was working on a sixth studio album and it would be released during 2013 in celebration of their 20-year anniversary since 36 Chambers
. Wu-Tang affiliate Cappadonna has said the album is in recording process taking place in New York, Los Angeles and the Wu mansion in New Jersey. RZA has also said he had talked to Adrian Younge about working on a song for the album. On April 11, 2013, it was announced via a press release that their upcoming sixth studio album would be titled, A Better Tomorrow
and was set to be released in July, 2013. During late April 2013, the Clan performed at the 2013 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. On May 17, a unreleased Wu-Tang song titled "Execution in Autumn" was released for purchase through RZA's record label Soul Temple Records. They performed at the 2013 HOT 97 Summer Jam at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, twenty years after they performed at the first annual Summer Jam concert. On June 5, 2013, the first promotional single "Family Reunion" featuring Masta Killah, Method Man, Ghostface Killah and RZA was released via the Soul Temple Records website.In June 2013 RZA said so far every member of the Clan except Raekwon and GZA had put in work on the A Better Tomorrow
album and that recording was being done at the Wu-Mansion, and the Wu-Mansion West. Unreleased verses from Ol' Dirty Bastard will also be featured on the album. He also stated he was hoping to release the album in November 2013. In July 2013 Cappadonna indicated the album was half way finished. Once November 2013 arrived, RZA gave an update on the album, saying that not every member had been significantly working on the album. He gave credit to Method Man, Cappadonna, U-God and Masta Killa for working hard on the album, while saying he needed more effort from Ghostface, Raekwon and GZA. Shortly after Method Man stated that Raekwon had not worked on the album at all, and Ghostface had only recorded two songs for the album so far. In late November, RZA suggested that the album was approximately six weeks from completion. In January 2014, the group posted a message on their Facebook page, saying: "The new Wu album 'A Better Tomorrow' coming soon."