“Bring da Ruckus,” from the Wu Tang Clan‘s debut 36 Chambers LP stands as one of the rawest songs in rap history. As the lead single, and intro track on the album, “Ruckus” set the tone and established the Wu as a crew to be reckoned with. Not a particular long record (4:12, with plenty of filler), each member of the Clan was tasked with establishing themselves as individuals in short yet, impactful verses. With that, came the birth of an organic (gutter) sound that has yet to be replicated.
The record was formatted to sound like a hip-hop cypher but, with a hook from RZA. Four verses and a bridge and everyone on the record went off with aggressive verses and flows. The song has three major samples, interpolating the drums from Melvin Bliss’s 1973 track “Synthetic Submission” and “CB#2” by Ralph Vargas and Carlos Bess. The song begins with a sample of the English version to the film, Shaolin Shadow Boxing.
In a 2015 interview with London-based music technology company Roli, RZA explains how he came up with the sound for Wu-Tang and how he came up with the beat for “Bring Da Ruckus.” He explained that he wanted to use sounds that represented New York City in his beats and sound effects to bring more color to their songs. “When we were making a song called ‘Bring Da Ruckus,’ we took the snare and put it in an elevator sound and recorded it.” He went on to reveal that the reason he used martial arts soundbites was to edit out curse words, thus making songs playable for radio, which he believes is what had kids gravitating to them. RZA loved manipulating sounds to make beats, to him, any kind of sound effect had a musical connotation to them that could be used for any beat.
Beginning with the skit from Shaolin Shadow Boxing, you get a raw and dingy sounding intro, RZA’s hook is then heard but, in a supporting role to the beat, as he shouts “bring da mother f**king ruckus” about four or five times before we get the first verse from Ghostface Killah.
“Ghostface catch the blast of a hype verse
My Glock burst, leave in a hearse, I did worse
I come rough, tough like an elephant tusk
Your head rush, fly like Egyptian musk
Aww sh*t, Wu-Tang Clan spark the wicks, an’
However, I master the trick just like Nixon
Causin’ terror, quick damage your whole era”
Ghostface is aggressive, setting the tone and stage for the others to follow. His verse embodied what RZA envisioned for the record, as he hoped for a pull no punches attitude from whoever rapped on the beat. The verse was quick but to the point, as Ghostface established himself as a someone to be reckoned with, bringing an attitude full of terror and dominance. Raekwon followed up, without a break from the chorus.
“No doubt, and you watch a corny n***a fold
Yeah, they fake and all that, carryin’ gats
But yo, my Clan rollin’ like forty macks
Now you act convinced, I guess it makes sense
Wu-Tang, yo, soooo represent!
I wait for one to act up, now I got him backed up
Gun to his neck now, react what?
And that’s one in the chamber, Wu-Tang banger
36 styles of danger”
Rae followed Ghost with a great verse painting a picture like he loves to do in his rhymes and directly putting you in the scenario that he paints. His tone and his delivery made you imagine him actually putting a gun to some one’s neck waiting on him to “act up.” Finishing up with a reminder that the clan was made up of different members, who each brought something to the table, or as he said, “36 styles of danger.”
Rapping third, Inspectah Deck might have had the best verse of the entire song, using wild terms, metaphors and rhyme schemes that kept the listener captivated. Like he said in his verse he verbally assaulted this track leaving listeners stunned like literal stun guns.
“I rip it, hardcore like porno-flick b***hes
I roll with groups of ghetto bastards with biscuits
Check it, my method on the microphone’s bangin’
Wu-Tang slang’ll leave your headpiece hangin’
Bust this, I’m kickin’ like Seagal: Out for Justice
The roughness, yes, the rudeness, ruckus
Redrum, I verbally assault with the tongue
Murder One, my style shocks your knot like a stun gun”
GZA (aka da Genius) was tasked with finishing off the record and he didn’t disappoint.
“Givin’ bystanders heart attacks
N***as try to flip, tell me, who is him?
I blow up his f***in’ prism, make it a vicious act of terrorism
You wanna bring it, so fuck it, come on and bring the ruckus!
And I provoke n***as to kick buckets
I’m wettin’ cream, I ain’t wettin’ fame
Who sellin’ ‘caine? I’m givin’ out a deadly game
It’s not the Russian, it’s the Wu-Tang crushin’ roulette
Slip up and get fucked like Suzette”
He ends the songs perfectly, adding to the theme of the record and showcasing his now famous lyricism.
“Bring Da Ruckus” is one of the more impactful intro songs in hip hop history. It highlighted four of the major members of the group, establishing their style and unique sound and slang, while also previewing a new era of hip hop, one that celebrated being from the streets not only in lyrics but in how the records were produced and mixed.