There was something undeniably wonderful about the burgeoning '90s hip-hop scene. No, I'm not talking about music from that era through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, it's just straight facts. The number of passionate artists with varying sounds that stood the test of time is staggering, and their contributions to rap are still felt today. One such '90s outfit that was an absolute phenomenon is the Wu-Tang clan. In fact, they're so iconic, Hulu commissioned a series about them.
The band was formed in Staten Island in 1992 by a group of voracious rappers who burst onto the scene with their album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), about a year later. To this day, it's considered one of the greatest rap albums ever conceived.
There's a reason why Dave Chappelle just shouts Wu-Tang in the middle of his sets. All right, I'm definitely reading too much into it: it's just a hilarious thing to say out of nowhere, but I'd like to think that his commitment to comedic excellence mirrors Wu-Tang's dedication to producing amazing hip-hop tracks.
The group was originally comprised of 9 founding rappers: RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Masta Killa, U-God, Ghostface Killah, and Inspectah Deck.
The Hulu series, Wu-Tang: An American Saga chronicles the formation of the band by RZA (Bobby Diggs) and all of the drama, obstacles, and hardships with not only keeping the group together, but producing honest tracks that break new ground.
The cast and characters in Wu-Tang: An American Saga are pretty legit.
The thing is, casting for a Wu-Tang show is a tall order, mostly because each member of the hip-hop group had such a distinct personality all their own.
Hulu went hard and heavy with many of their casting choices — the most recognizable name on the cast list is Ashton Sanders. You'll probably remember him from Moonlight and Native Son. Expect to see more of him, not just in An American Saga, but other upcoming projects as well.
Johnell Young must've really made an impression on casting directors when he auditioned for the role of GZA, the young actor only had six credits on his resume and none of them were really that high-profile. The amount of exposure he can gain from the show is huge, as is the opportunity to work with other talent.
If you're wondering why the two rappers have such similar names it's because they had a shared upbringing: they're cousins. GZA was the de facto "spiritual leader" of the group. The real life GZA is a consulting producer for the Hulu series.
My favorite member of the clan, and I don't think I'm alone in this one, is Ol' Dirty Bastard, so I was super interested in seeing who was going to play him.
Actor TJ Atoms is taking up the role of ODB — he's previously had parts in Orange is the New Black, You, and Blue Bloods. The real-life ODB passed away in 2004 at only 35 years old from a drug overdose. During his relatively short career, he had a number of high-profile collaborations and hit singles.
Inspectah Deck is actually played by IRL rapper Joey Bada$$, who also has a recurring role on Mr. Robot's fourth season and had an arc on the BET series Boomerang. The actual Deck, Jason S. Hunter also had a successful solo rap career and is a consulting producer on the series as well.
If you're an Into the Spider-Verse fan, then the voice of who plays Raekwon might sound familiar: he voiced Miles Morales in the critically acclaimed film. Shameik Moore's also been featured in Dope and The Get Down.
Siddiq Saunderson will be playing Ghostface Killah and if you haven't heard of him it's because he doesn't have a ton of credits to his name, although he did have roles in Messiah and Boomerang. The actual Ghostface Killah is praised for being one of the best "storytelling" rappers out there — he also performs under the names Tony Stark and Ironman.
Dave East, like Bada$$, is another rapper/actor with a lead role in the series: he'll be playing Method Man. MM's an actor/rapper himself, so we've got a serious case of Inception going on here.
The Wu-Tang/Jermaine Fowler connection.
Remember when I mentioned how Chappelle randomly mentions "Wu-Tang" outta nowhere in his stand-up bits? It turns out he's not the only comedian who has an appreciation for the group: comedian Jermaine Fowler called his sketch comedy show on truTV, Friends of the People, the "Wu-Tang Clan of Comedy" back in 2015.
The show recently debuted on Sept. 4 and unlike Netflix, Hulu debuts new episodes weekly. You can stream the show every Wednesday if Wu-Tang is your jam, or if you want it to be.