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The Wu-Tang Manual

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,215 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Long awaited and much anticipated, The Wu-Tang Manual is The RZA’s first written introduction to the philosophy and history of Hip-Hop’s original Dynasty, the Wu-Tang Clan.Since the release of the revolutionary Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — over the course of four seminal group albums and a multitude of ambitious side projects — the Wu-Tang Clan has constantly redefine ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Riverhead Books (first published October 2004)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  1,215 ratings  ·  82 reviews

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Oct 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Raw I'm gonna give it to you, with no trivia
like cocaine straight from Bolivia
My hip-hop will rock and shock the nation
like the Emancipation Proclamation
Weak MC's approach with slang that's dead
you might as well run into the wall and bang your head
I'm pushin' force, my force your doubtin'
I'm makin' devils cower to the Caucus Mountains
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's no reason for any home to be without a copy. ...more
May 09, 2009 rated it liked it
The story of the RZA's 'five year plan' for Wu Tang taking over hip hop in the 1990's is incredible, and it is always a pleasure to read about someone's love of Chess. The numerology and religious shit, however, is embarrassing.

Warning: this book does not make the Bobby Digital records more listenable.
Khang Nguyen
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Wu-Tang Manualis a must have guide for any Wu-Tang Clan fan. Written by Wu-Tang’s mastermind, the lyrically sharp and raw, the RZA, the manual dives into the philosophy and ideals behind the group that redefined Hip-Hop. The manual is divided into 4 books, each containing 9 chambers, totally up to 36 chambers. Each book breaks down the essence behind the clan, from martial arts, their Islamic influence, chess, comic books, and more. With great pictures and diagrams, the manual is informative ...more
Brett C
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music-film-art
Written in a style that is at once personal and philosophical, The Wu-Tang Manual unravels the intricate web of personalities (and alter egos), warrior codes, numerological systems, and Eastern spiritual ethics that define the Wu-Tang dynasty. Packed with information that reflects the breadth and depth of the RZA’s — and rest of the Clan’s — intellectual interests and passions, The Wu-Tang Manual is divided into four books of nine chambers each, for a total of 36 chambers. All together, the book ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Insightful & mega-Illuminating. Read it in about 10 hours. & I'm a slow reader. Didn't even use a bookmark. It is rare for me to tear thru a book like this. It is not really that textually dense & the chapters are short w/ lots of sidebar info. But it is super-detalied & clarifies/expands on a lot of what you hear in the albums and the overall Wu-Tang ethos.

I thought the production chapters were insightfully detailed & Great and to be honest i wish there was a book solely about Wu-Tang productio
Apr 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
The whole package (text, images, content, photos, comics, organization) of the Wu-Tang Manual is designed to present The RZA's world view. This reminds me of my architectural training where I was taught that in good architecture everything down to the smallest detail relates to the project as a whole.

The Wu-Tang spirituality is a combination of Islam, Kung Fu, Christian, and street spirituality. It has drawn from both pop culture and New York culture to create a spirituality that is uniquely for
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I saw an interview that The Rza had done with John Stewart and I figured I'd read this book. Learning the behind-the-scenes Wu-Tang trivia was cool. I feel like I can appreciate their music more that I know where they all came from and the business side of things. The Rza is basically a mastermind that had their rise to fame completely calculated when he was gathering the group together. What I didn't like was all the misogyny that was happening. There were a few times were I literally had to st ...more
Steven Brooks
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just had to give this a five-star review as it occupied my entire Christmas day as a teenager. The Wu-Tang Manual was the second present I opened and I was blown away at my mum's observational skills. She hated rap music but had to wisdom to find this absolute beauty of a book. At the time, I was completely unaware of its existence. This gift was better than anything Santa ever gave me. I was already a keen lover of the Tang and my buddies used to compare me to Inspectah Deck. I refused to open ...more
Maybe Lee
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an awesome book - being first generation and money always being tight around the house with two working parents, it was really cool to see how RZA was able to bring the clan together and how they all learned from each other. This book is not only about their music, but about the EXPERIENCES: people, places, things, philosophies, religions that make the Wu-Tang Clan what they are. A must read for any Wu-Tang fans.

Side note: I set out to read more books by minorities and learn more about my
Adam Kołodziejczyk
Jun 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I had wanted to read this book for years but I had never had a chance to buy it. When U-God published his biography in 2018 I read it and I decided that I had to read RZA's book as well. Even though, the book was enjoyable and it consists a lot of information for every Wu-Tang fan, it was not as good as I had expected. ...more
Nate Meadows
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A nice, light mix of a lot of cool things together: comic books, hip hop, kung fu, Islam, Eastern philosophies, music production, film production, New York and more. Of course there is some ego there too and ridiculous Numerology but I was never bored!
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the coolest books I ever read in my life
RZA is a genius, so wise
Great writing voice
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just love Wu-Tang. Any fan should own a copy of this book. Nuff said!
Sebastian Stevenson
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some great insight from RZA about the beginnings of the group and on art and life in general.
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-own
The Tao of Wu is better.
Greg Heath
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The RZA, hip-hop super group The Wu-Tang Clan's founding member and charismatic frontman, has clearly written "The Wu-Tang Manual" for the legions of ever-loyal fans, but anyone not readily familiar with Wu-Tang's music will still find much to enjoy here. The RZA is a music industry mogul, brilliant, obsessive tech geek, and wildly successful entrepreneur, but the one thing that comes across more clearly than anything about him is his gleeful, almost childlike enthusiasm in discussing his many h ...more
Ron Morgan
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally finished The Wu-Tang Manual, after putting it down for a few years. Pretty awesome read to get into RZA's mind a bit, and see how Wu-Tang came together. There is a definite respect between all the players. It's pretty wild how such amazing artists all got together as a family and took over the rap world. This book makes me know I was right to have my second ever tattoo be a W. ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly interesting read, and the organization was perfect. The first two "books" basically introduce the people, lifestyle and concepts that they were into around the time that they created their first two albums.

And then they get into the lyrics (book three)! RZA breaks down the more complicated raps and gives you background on what was the intention behind the words... I was and still am AMAZED how most of their lyrics have double, even triple meaning behind them, and they're all stil
May 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis – The RZA gives the history of the Wu Tang Clan, the story of their success, and illuminates various Wu Tang trivia. Also included are in depth discussions of philosophical influences including chess, cinema, and kung fu movies, a lexicon of slang terms, and lyrics of some popular Wu Tang songs with annotations.

Reaction – I enjoyed this book because it helped me see hip hop music in a new way. RZA is a very talented individual, in music, business, and life. I will admit that even I, a h
Simon Sweetman
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Chess, Maths, Kung-Fu films, it's all here - the influences in and on and around the Wu-Tang Clan. The RZA lays out the concepts and angles around the making of the troupe and the music that flowed from there. Good for fans. ...more
Brittany Kubes
May 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book to figure out why Wu-Tang is so pop among skinny white boys (among others), according to my coworker, a skinny white boy.

The Manual contained the philosophy behind the group (didn't know these guys had a philosophy, intrigue), offering profiles on each of the 9 members, a history of their coming together, the why, and a breakdown of lyrics from various songs (songs I listened to while reading the lyrics/breakdowns).

Ehhhh I'm not sure I yet understand why so many dorky white boys
East Bay J
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: music-bios
When The Wu-Tang Clan dropped in the early 90's, they turned the hip hop world on its ear and added a whole new bag of tricks to the way up and coming artists do business. The Wu-Tang Manual sums up the group's history and explores their influences from Kung-Fu flicks to comic books to technology to Allah. The ever present bragging about past misdeeds and lawbreaking are pretty tired. Eating a bunch of acid and firing off your gun in a club is never cool, no matter what anybody says. All that as ...more
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting read and I didn't expect it to go as quickly as it did. You can only read so much on the internet about it.. it is really something else to get RZA's first hand account of the history of Wu-Tang and what makes them so great. In a way, reading this directly affirmed a lot of what I had felt in the music throughout the years. I had no idea just how much martial arts movies permeated everything they did from such a young age (and it led me to ask more questions about r ...more
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
If I could give this book a 3.5 star, I would. But I gave it the benefit of the doubt and gave it a 4, only because of the type of book that is was.

For what it was, this book was good. I do not agree with the reviews that make this book out to be more profound than it is. The numerology "Mathematics" and parts about religion were all BS and I think, for me, managed to knock Wu-Tang Clan down a few notches (the sexism in the religious parts didn't help either).

But, if you're looking for a little
Jon Knight
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
How do you describe this book? Fans of the more spiritual and biographical 'The Tao of Wu' will know the RZA's honesty and verve which is in abundance here. This is a stream of consciousness describing in detail all of the aspects of Wu Tang's production, inspiration and setting, and a whole lot more besides. For hardcore fans a large section is lyrics annotated with meaning and ideas. There are lessons in business, philosophy, religion, style and much more, and if you're keyed into RZA's unique ...more
Eugene booker
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved the way this book was laid out. It has different sections: One section introduces the original Wu-Tang members, another section is a dictionary of their slang (I think it's titled "Wu Slang"), etc. But throughout the book The RZA also tells stories and shares the history and philosophies of both himself and the clan. It's a great book written by a brilliant man.

I'd also recommend reading The Tao of Wu. A few stories in the two books do overlap, but I still consider them both well worth r
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: roughnecks
The Wu-Tang sword has been dicing up my room for weeks. In this razor sharp book, the RZA has elucidated some of the Shaolin's most tightly held secrets. i now possess a deep and profound knowledge of how best to protect ya neck, shadowbox, cut fishscale, deftly navigate the 7-10 pseudonyms attributed to each soldier in the Clan and attain enlightenment through the spitting of the ruggedest battle rhymes known to man. Read this, and you will be truly prepared to enter the 36 chambers. ...more
Oct 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
This book won't teach you anything new for those already in the know, but this is an essential possession to any true fan of the WU!! Wu Tang and their music were the soundtrack of my mid-twenties - so many true memories, "Can It All Be So Simple". This book is great for breaking down some of the lyrics, giving readers another window into the group and its members. Must have for any true fan of hip hop!
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Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, better known by his stage name RZA, is an American music producer, multi-instrumentalist, author, rapper, actor, director, composer, and screenwriter. A prominent figure in hip hop, RZA is the de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan. He has produced almost all of Wu-Tang Clan's albums as well as many Wu-Tang solo and affiliate projects. He is a cousin of the late band-mate, Ol ...more

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