Johnson City Library

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Enter the Wu-Tang

This debut revolutionized hip-hop (and launched half a dozen solo careers), as much for The RZA's raw barrage of off-kilter, off-key loops and sound effects as for its elliptically violent lyrics. Martial arts--at least as they appear in kung fu movies--are the Wu-Tang Clan's favorite metaphor, but they're also the organizing principle of the group, a crowd of eight rappers, each with his own way-out-there "fighting style." They created their own little self-contained culture, with its own symbols and shifting identities, and let listeners figure it out for themselves. Unless you're willing to immerse yourself in its world, it can be baffling and a little dry, but its aggression and originality are undeniable.