Wu-Tang on Weed Part 1: Comics
If there’s any music collective that defines weed in hip hop culture, it’s Wu-Tang. You know about their love for Kung-Fu, but peep this article for some comic book knowledge that helped to shape the WU and still influences them today.
Wu is the Word, Tang is the Sound of The Sword
What better way to start off our series on the seminal hip-hop group Wu-Tang clan than to talk about comics? Sit back, prepare yourself, protect your neck, and put on your thinking caps, ladies and gentlemen. This series is about to flow as deep as oceans. Even the biggest Wu heads will probably learn something about Wu-Tang – at least one thing – by the end of this series. If by the end you truly didn’t learn something, maybe we’ll send you a LOUD T-Shirt. Maybe.
If you haven’t already checked out our previous articles about hip hop’s unique relationship with weed, you can do so right here. We’re just getting started.
Comics: As American As Apple Pie
Just like jazz, the blues, rock and roll, BBQ food, and so on, hip hop is purely American. As American as apple pie. And for the most part, so are comic books. Sure, all of the above have their influences elsewhere, everything does throughout human history. But the rest of the world wouldn’t enjoy those specific cultural delights without the good old stars and stripes.
Why Comics and Wu-Tang?
For the members of Wu-Tang, they came up in the mid-1980s and the early 1990s, during the peak of the crack epidemic. Most of Wu got caught up in the illicit drug game in some capacity, but at some point, they realized they needed an escape. For all of them, hip hop music was that escape. But for specific Wu members like RZA, GZA, ODB, U-God, and in particular Method Man, that escape was comic books. We could only really find good information about RZA and Method when it comes to comic books and Wu, so we will be focusing mostly on these two Wu-Tang members for the majority of this post.
Comics did start with DC, and no disrespect to Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and especially the Dark Knight. They were the originators. But Wu-Tang members tend to mostly prefer Marvel characters because they show their human emotions and live in real places. Spider-Man, in particular, lives in New York. He shows teenage angst, depression, and regret when Uncle Ben dies, relationship trouble with MJ, and so on. This is what Wu-Tang was drawn to. So for the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on Marvel. RIP Stan Lee.
Altered State of Egos
The majority of comic book characters have alter-egos, both the heroes and the villains. Superman has Clark Kent. Spider-Man has Peter Parker. And if you know anything about Wu-Tang, you know that they all have alter-egos. They have nicknames, street names, rap names, and alter egos. RZA the Abbot is Bobby Digital. Wu-Tang forms like Voltron and RZA is the head. GZA is the Genius. Ol’ Dirty is well, pick a day and Old Dirt McGirt might be something different (RIP). U-God is Golden Arms. Method Man is Johnny Blaze, a direct reference to the comic Ghost Rider. Raekwon is the Chef. Deck is the Rebel INS. Ghostface is Tony Starks, a direct reference to Iron Man – way before Iron Man was mainstream. Iron Man comics weren’t all that mainstream before the movies came out. Ghostface actually made an appearance in the first Iron Man flick, but that footage never made it to the final cut.
Who is Johnny Blaze?
While every Wu-Tang member was into comics, it’s Method Man who had the biggest collection and is probably the biggest comic geek. Shotgun might be his nickname, but his rap alias is Johnny Blaze. All of the Wu-Tang members toked up, no doubt, but Method Man was the biggest stoner as well as being the biggest geek.
“That’s the one thing that I remember about Method Man. That motherf*cker smoked some weed. That’s why I named him the Method Man, for Method, or Methtical – the slang we had for weed. Because I never saw someone smoke as much weed as him,” – RZA, intro page about Method Man, The Wu-Tang Manual.
Method Man in Luke Cage
Method Man played himself in a few episodes of Marvel’s Luke Cage. He even spits a verse called Bullet Proof Love. You can watch the Luke Cage show on Netflix for now, but at some point, it’s looking like pretty much all Marvel shows and movies will eventually migrate to Disney+. We won’t get into that corporate quagmire here, just so that you are aware. So Wu-Tang exists in the Marvel cinematic universe. The two are literally intertwined in more ways than one. It’s hopefully only a matter of time before Meth finally gets his starring role in a feature Marvel film. He already voice acts on a pretty dope podcast called Marvels. Check it out if you haven’t, it’s about the Fantastic Four’s battle with Galacticus.
Meth’s Prized Possession is a Comic Book
In September of 2019, Meth told Jimmy Kimmel that his most prized possession is The Incredible Hulk #181, which is the first appearance of Wolverine. Meth was particularly into the X-Men because they were born with their powers. They didn’t have to be bitten by a spider, or hit by gamma rays, or whatever. Their powers were innate. He always also fond of the team aspect of the Xmen. The Avengers and the Xmen comics came out around the same time in the comic book universe, in 1963. The Xmen were molded together by Professor X and many of the young ones only realized their powers because of that. On the other hand, the Avengers were a team of individual superheroes, but they were all already established. The Avengers came together for a common cause, but the Xmen were formed more organically.
Wu-Tang Forms Like Voltron With RZA at the Head
“I was playing with my son and he goes ‘shoo-shoo’, making like he’s shooting powers at me. I told him that really won’t hurt anybody. But the second time he did it, I didn’t say that to him. Most kids wish they had some kind of special powers to protect themselves. That 36th chamber in martial arts, that’s the one where the fighter just forces energy at his opponent and knocks him across the room. So I don’t want to take that away from a child,” – RZA, comics section of The Wu-Tang Manual.
For the RZA, he always gravitated to the heroes in comics that were just men. Sure, they were amazing men, but they didn’t have any kind of superpowers. Specifically, the RZA’s two favorites were Moon Knight and the Green Hornet. This is where Bobby Digital comes from. Bobby Digital is RZA’s solo his album, and he also put out a flick of the same name.
Wu-Tang on Weed: Honey-Dipped Blunts
In the story, Bobby Digital makes a serum underground that he calls honey serum. He dips his blunts in the honey serum. After he hits one, it transforms him, and it opens up his consciousness. Bobby Digital instantly gains the world’s knowledge at his fingertips. He wants to share that consciousness to the world, so he develops a gun with bullets that do so. The digital signal is the bullets of the gun, but it doesn’t hurt, it digitizes – giving people instant access to the knowledge. Bobby Digital implants a little signal into people, so they don’t have to rely on any outside source – it’s all inside of them. Because the whole story starts when RZA hits the blunt dipped in the honey serum, no part of this story would be possible without weed.
RZA the Real-Life Superhero
In his book The Wu-Tang Manual, the RZA describes how he truly wanted to become a real-life superhero. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a bulletproof suit and a black suburban that was bullet and bombproof. We don’t really have any information as to where RZA ever went with this, but he was serious about becoming a real-life superhero. That’s how deep RZA’s love for comics and superheroes goes!
Hip-Hop and Nerd Culture Collide
What a time to be alive! When we were coming up, it was geeky to like comics and science. Nowadays, rappers like just about every member of Wu-Tang are open about their love for science and comics.
Did you know that the GZA did a Ted Talk? Six years ago. It’s how I personally found out that GZA co-founded a called SCIENCE GENIUS, with Christopher Emdin of Teachers College. The program seeks to engage high school students in science using hip hop – and it seems to be working. This is exactly what hip hop was originally intended to do. Give a voice to the voiceless, an outlet to those who had little to none, and to promote the gaining of knowledge.
Wu-Tang might not have been fully-on board with the conscious message in their Enter the 36 Chambers days, but they sure are now. It is great to see rappers like GZA connecting with the youth and helping to teach them about science via hip hop. Hopefully, more rappers and all musicians for that matter, follow GZA’s lead and use their platform to help the youth learn and grow. They are literally our future!
That LOUD, Sh!t is DEEP!
Wu-Tang originally came out on the label LOUD records, and we are Loud News… It’s a perfect match! In addition to Wu-Tang, the NYC-based LOUD records put out projects from Mobb Deep, Big Pun (RIP), Pete Rock, Krayzie Bone, Three 6 Mafia, Xzibit, and so on.
The Saga Continues…
I could go on about Wu-Tang Forever (see what I did there), and I might do just that. This is the first in our series on Wu-Tang, and we are just getting started. We are diving deeper into kung fu, chess, and maybe even more as we progress. And it don’t stop.
Like what you read? Hip-hop head just like we are? Please connect with us on all social media platforms and let us know what else you’d like to see us talk about – @loudnews everywhere. We hope you are all safe, happy and healthy. We’re all in this together. We might be physically isolated, but we can connect with each other digitally. And we don’t even have to shoot each other with the digital knowledge bullet, like Bobby Digital did. Stay real and stay up! Be cool to each other, and thanks for reading Loud Fam.