Songs You Really Should Have Heard By Now #2

RZA feat. Method Man & Cappadonna – Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance (1996)

‘Wu-Wear: The Garment Renaissance’ is possibly the best Wu-Tang Clan joint you’ve never heard. Released as a single from the High School High soundtrack, the track is literally an audio billboard for the group’s then newly-launched streetwear line, created to capitalize on their underground spillover success. It charted relatively well too but was quickly overshadowed by Ghostface Killah’s Ironman which was released right about the same time.

The three Clan MC’s spend close to four minutes proselytizing the superiority of Wu-Wear over every other urban brand out there. RZA’s verse has him relating a story about a man going through, well, a garment renaissance and deciding to ditch every high-street label that comes to mind (‘Stopped wearing Benetton / Tommy Hill, Perry Ellis, Nautica, or Liz Claiborne / Ocean Pacific, Fila, Bill Blass and leave fitted / Quit the Armani sweaters with the Gucci wool knitted’) and replacing his entire wardrobe with ‘strictly Wu-Wear’.

In between verses by RZA and Cappadonna you have Method Man serenading the label’s quality statement to you (‘Ain’t what you want baby / It’s what you need baby / Just come see me / Satisfaction guaranteed baby’). And beneath all the marketing talk you have RZA’s hard-hitting and uncompromising beat, as are most of his other productions from that period of time, with the odd doorbell sample surfacing every once in a while.

Wu-Wear laid the groundwork and preceded every other rap-mogul-owned clothing line – Sean John, Rocawear, you name it – and subsequently made owning a fashion label a requirement for every fledgling hip-hop career. If only every one of those labels had a banging commercial like this.

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