Simon Reynolds -
‘Weapons are tools not just of destruction but also of perception - that is to say, stimulants that make themselves felt through chemical, neurological processes in the sense organs and the central nervous system, affecting human reactions and even the perceptual identification and differentiation of objects.’
- Paul Virilio, ‘War and Cinema’
In the last five years, pop music has been colonised by militaristic imagery. Popular avant-gardes like East Coast hip hop and British jungle act as mirrors to late capitalist reality, stripping away the facade of free enterprise to reveal the war of all against all: a neo-Medieval paranoiascape of robber barons, pirate corporations, covert operations and conspiratorial cabals. In the terrordome of capitalist anarchy, the underclass can only survive by taking on the mobilisation techniques and the psychology of warfare - forming blood-brotherhoods and warrior-clans, and individually, by transforming the self into a fortress, a one-man army on perpetual red alert.
Wu-Tang Clan and its extended family of solo artists (Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, Genius and Raekwon) are the premier exponents of the doom-fixated, paranoiac style of hip hop - sometimes called ‘horrorcore’ or Gothic rap - that currently rules the East Coast. The Clan’s 1993 debut album Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) begins with a sample from a martial arts movie. ‘Shaolin shadow-boxing and the Wu-Tang sword… If what you say is true, the Shaolin and the Wu-Tang could be dangerous. Do you think your Wu-Tang sword can defeat me?’ Then there’s the challenge ‘En garde!’, and the clashing of blades as combat commences.