Cash Rules Everything Around Me: Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers, Black Postmodernism and Neo-Marxism
Matos Sequeira Trigo de Negreiros, B. de
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Many authors in the field of New Musicology have focused on Hip-Hop, as it is a genre rich in social and political meaning. Its potential to be perceived as a postmodern musical expression has been highlighted in several texts. For this thesis, I chose to draw my attention to one of the most significant Hip-Hop releases in what is widely considered to be its “golden age” (a period usually bracketed between the mid eighties to the early nineties) - Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), released in 1993 through RCA Records. This paper intends to analyze the various components of the record in light of its social, political and economical context, as well as establishing a link between its contents and Neo-Marxist cultural theory. For this reading, a deepened analysis of both the lyrics performed by RZA and the remaining members of the Clan, as well as the ways in which the practices of sampling and beat-making are applied throughout the album, is necessary. In order to answer the proposed research question - in which ways can one connect Hip-Hop narratives to postmodern and Neo-Marxist cultural criticism -, the considerations previously drawn by other authors who have approached the field of Hip-Hop studies and cultural studies in general will be greatly appreciated - stemming from Adorno’s seminal, although criticizable, writings as well as more recent perspectives on the subject, such as Krims’ observations on “the Hip-Hop sublime” or Schloss’s and Chang’s analysis of of sampling and beat-making.