Wu-Tang Forever

I perk my ears hearing the familiar beat, although I can’t pinpoint the song hearing the bass from my teenage son’s room.

“Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M., get the money,” Method Man’s throaty voice rings out, and I come alive mouthing the lyrics.

Dollar dollar bill, y’ all.”

Something happens inside me, and on the instant I’m back in time, feeling the feelings of youth, nodding my head as I climb the stairs. Hearing Wu-Tang, I’m suddenly cool and empowered, not the middle-aged mother living in the burbs.

“Dollar dollar bill, y’ all.”

“Do you like Wu-Tang?” my son asks, as I motion him to turn it down, hating myself for it.

Wu-Tang? Who doesn’t like Wu-Tang? I think but am careful with my answer.

Wu-TangWitty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game and their hardcore style isn’t something that’s a thing in the swanky suburbs that I worked so hard to get to. I’m not sure I want my son knowing I’m down with a lot of the controversial stuff that’s said, so I pause, buying time to craft my response.

Thoughts of the other mom’s around town in their Lilly Pulitzer, and Eileen Fisher duds swirl in my head, and I feel sure they wouldn’t know Method Man or Ol’ Dirty Bastard. They wouldn’t appreciate Wu-Tang, as I did so many lifetimes ago. I felt myself fading along with the song, wondering when I stopped listening, feeling like a sell-out.

Being from the city, I grew up listening to rap back in the 90s, and no one was better than The Wu-Tang Clan, and here they are still relevant thirty years later. You wouldn’t think I’d have much to relate to in the gritty, street style they vocalized being a white Irish chick, but I had my dirt. Suburbia, when I was young, seemed like a fictional place on T.V. or in a movie. We city kids scoffed, never wanting to be like ‘them.’ I wasn’t sure why but maybe it was because we couldn’t be, so we labeled them as hard they labeled us — They thought they were better. They didn’t understand. They were the problem.

While I could never claim to relate to what a lot of the New York rap culture was rhyming about, I sang along passionate and wholehearted, feeling the feelings like so many kids. Some of our stuff was similar. We had addiction and loss. We were poor and had to grow up fast, some of us getting into a bit of trouble and some of us a lot. Friends in jail, dead, and a few of us barely surviving. I felt less than, looked down on in my shit clothes and my life of various dysfunction. Wu-Tang brought me and a lot of us in. They struggled, and we did. I got them because they got me. Isn’t that what good music does? It pulls you in and makes you feel.

Years and life went on, and things changed for some of us. I wanted better; yes, I wanted the burbs for my son and myself and worked hard to get here. And while I’ll never be the wholesome and happy soccer mom type carting the kids around in a caravan with a stick figure family on the back, I lost my desperation to relate to the lyrics of the guys from Staten Island. Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Ghostface Killa and the other original crew R.Z.A., G.Z.A., Method Man, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa; these guys with the hardcore style that once saturated my soul I didn’t need so much anymore.

Things like oppression, poverty, racism, and violence don’t have to be a right of passage, and in a perfect world, they wouldn’t be. But even in an ideal world, even in the burbs, people have their problems, and we can still listen and enjoy grimy lyrics and slick beats to understand and learn because Wu-Tang’s words mean something.

The next song starts, and there’s my son, living nothing like the rhymes and nothing like how I lived, and I’m glad.

“Turn it up,” I say, sitting down next to him— I’m back.

Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin ta F Wit
Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin ta F Wit
Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin ta F Wit



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Dianne C. Braley

Dianne C. Braley

Dianne C. Braley is a registered nurse blogger and freelance writer from Massachusetts. Dianne has contributed to various online and printed publications.