Zilla Rocca talks reinterpreting Wu-Tang Clan with the Wrecking Crew

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We’ve been hearing about this project for a couple years now – Wu-Tang Pulp, an homage to hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan featuring Philly MCs Curly Castro, Has-Lo and Zilla Rocca. Individual teaser tracks have popped up here and there, and this week the entire collection surfaced as a name-your-own-price download.

But what is it, exactly? A covers record? Those don’t look like Wu-Tang song-titles. They don’t sound like familiar Wu-Tang beats. Are they deep cuts and rarities? Are they never-released jams? Might The Wrecking Crew be be such fans / obsessives that they’re into a whole other depth of Wu obscuro nerdery? Note the “Pulp” in the album title – these are comic book loving dudes, after all.

It’s kind of that last thing. Kind of all of them. When I caught up with Zilla over e-mail, he described the album as “rebuilt versions of our favorite Wu songs.” This includes not just the full-band albums, but also their various and prolific solo offshoots.

So “Bring the Pain” from Method Man’s Tical is spun as “Pain Bringer,” Raekwon’s “Criminology” from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx becomes “Mad Light Inside the Dark.” New samples, textures and structures steer the songs in a different direction from their original incarnations, so unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of both Wu Tang Clan’s output and their lyrics, you might be left feeling a bit perplexed.

“Don’t feel too bad,” Zilla says when I copped to my confusion by the project.

“Jeff Weiss [hip-hop critic and blogger at The Passion Of The Weiss], a diehard lifelong Wu fan who correctly surmised that Wu-Tang is our Beatles, didn’t even catch that the reference point for ‘Awkward Slang’ is RZA’s ‘Tragedy’,” Zilla says. “We picked deep album cuts so that people might rediscover them later and also give it an album feel — you can’t make an album with 15 singles.

“So ‘FCK YR LF’ is a flip of ‘The Stomp’ off Ol’ Dirty’s album, not ‘Brooklyn Zoo’ or ‘Shimmy Shimmy Y’all’,” he continues. “Same goes for ‘Mystery Inside’, which is a flip of ‘Rainy Dayz’ off Raekwon’s album rather than the obvious choice like ‘Ice Cream’. ”

To hammer the cred points home, the Crew sequenced the album based on Wu Tang’s oft-overlooked 2000 offering The W, one Zilla considers “an undeniable classic,” and did not reinterpret any songs from Wu-Tang’s – best-known offering, 1993′s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). So don’t go looking for “C.R.E.A.M.” or “Bring the Ruckus” here, y’all. Dig in to Wu Tang Pulp at Bandcamp and see how many references you pick up on.

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