By: Daniel Hodgman
When you think of the game of chess, what comes to your mind? If you answered “hip-hop,” then you already know where I’m going, but to some chess and hip-hop isn’t the connection that is made. However, these two go hand-in-hand more ways than one might think. For one, both are battles: chess pits two sides against one another with the goal of trapping the King, in which pieces are thrown, movements are made and victories are seized; in hip-hop, everything is a battle, whether it’s between a movement and a certain oppression, getting out a certain ideal, pitting two MC’s head-to-head in a freestyle or having b-boys facing off in a break battle. Those reasons, along with plenty more, showcase this nature. Secondly, chess is a game that is notorious in the urban community. From the park tables that are swamped with players everyday to the inner-city championship tournaments held all around the world, chess has manifested itself deep within the roots of urban culture and has consequently become a beacon and symbol in hip-hop.
For the Wu-Tang Clan, chess has long had an important role. RZA, a founder and the producer for the collective, has long stood by chess and has stated that it’s part of the “Wu essence.” In The Wu-Tang Manuel, RZA goes on to say, “It’s a game of war–it’s about battle. And Wu-Tang was formed in battles from challenging each other.”
RZA isn’t the only member to publicly point to chess as one of the Wu staples. In fact, the collective has made a notion to include chess whenever possible. Littered throughout the Wu music archives, chess not only is mentioned, it’s used as symbolism. Moreover, samples containing chess dialogue are strewn among these tracks, and GZA went as far as to include a mini-chess set in his Liquid Swords reissue box.
So with all this, I thought it would be fun to think of the primary Wu members as chess pieces. In fact, wouldn’t it be cool to have a chess set, but instead of normal pieces you’d have miniature Wu members? Who would represent the King? What about the Rooks? This is my take, something that can and should be argued over among Wu fans all over.
Note: There are eight non-Pawn pieces to a chess set: one King, one Queen, two Rooks, two Bishops and two Knights. Because the current Wu lineup has eight members, I will use them. I dedicate this idea to the ninth member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Russell Tyrone Jones aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and he will be the “second King” alongside the one I have chosen from the eight current members. Rest in peace Mr. Jones. Also, there are eight Pawns, and I figured that since all of the primary Wu-Tang members hold the other positions, Pawn pieces can be represented by Wu-Tang affiliates, Killa Beez and Wu Fam. Picking those eight individuals is up to the reader.
Note: Some of the edging is cut-off and I can’t seem to fix it. So here is a link for a clearer view of the words: http://infogr.am/If-Wu-Tang-Members-Were-Chess-Pieces/