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Featured artist: Wu-Tang Clan
No hip-hop has mattered quite as much.
The Wu-tang may have only released one classic record, but what a classic it was: 36 Chambers was a massive banner effort, a communal masterstroke piloted by the sparse, movie-flicker production genius of RZA. It's a classic that's spawned a whole culture, spring-boarding careers musical and entrepreneurial for many a member of this Staten Island group. GZA, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon have all gone on to make classic records, now revered in their own right, while the group remains as active as they were in '93 with high-concept releases like Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, the one-million dollar record that made headlines after it was purchased by amoral pharma bro Martin Shkreli.
All a bit weird, isn't it? The focus is best placed on 36 Chambers and its fluent, singular magic: it's a record that saw a near-dozen rappers throwing out their best work, from Ol' Dirty Bastard to Method Man straight down to Inspectah Deck. Few records have a legacy like this one, and few artists can claim to be more synonymous with their genre than the folks on this one. Recent years have seen their quality as a collective dip, but they remain a pivotal part of East Coast rap's resurgence and power.