20 Years Later: ‘Supreme Clientele’ Reminds Us All that Wu-Tang Is Forever

When the Wu emerged on the scene with their monumental single “C.R.E.A.M.” off their debut album Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, it was like a new day in hip hop. It’s safe to say that the Wu changed hip hop forever. They were a part of what I like to call the East Coast Renaissance. B.I.G., Nas, Onyx, Mobb Deep were some of the faces you would have seen heavily on your TV screen. The only problem I had back then was my little ass was ten years old, so I couldn’t get in the clubs. I remember being pissed my older cousins got to see Method Man live.

Fast forward to the year 2000. B.I.G., Pac, Big L, Freaky Tah and Big Pun all passed. No Limit and Cash Money records emerged, Puff was still larger than life, Ruff Ryders had everyone going crazy, and Hov had everyone and their momma throwing up the diamond. In other words, hip hop had changed. Mainstream didn’t want hoodies and timbs, they wanted rims, platinum chains, and diamonds in the grill. Despite various solo projects going gold or platinum after Wu Tang Forever, some felt that the run was coming to an end. Boy were they wrong.

On February 8, 2000, Ghostface emerged with his second album Supreme Clientele. This album, in my opinion, is flawless from start to finish and was put together brilliantly. If anyone needed any reminder that Wu-Tang was in fact forever, this definitely was a clear reminder. The original CD packaging alone was epic. Like you knew you were in for a ride. I remember this one kid said to me, “Yo, you gotta listen to this backwards to fully understand how epic this is.” For some reason as strange as it sounded back then he might have been onto something.

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I’ve always greatly admired Ghostface’s work throughout the years, but this one here was almost like he really put on Ironman’s suit to make this shit. Ghost has always been one of hip hop’s elite storytellers. Ever since his verse on “Impossible,” it seemed like he became even more determined to paint pictures so vivid that it felt like you were right there watching. I still chuckle at his verse on “Wu Banga 101”. That church was so messed up, my grandmother would have definitely had a couple of choice words for that whole congregation. But that just showed the different levels of his lyricism.

Now I don’t know if I should be saying this, but apparently the song “Malcolm,” which was produced by my longtime friend Choo Da Specializt, is based on a true story where Ghostface’s man, I- Sham, allegedly broke Bad Boy legend Mase‘s jaw. I can’t confirm or deny these allegations, but I’d definitely like to hear the back story to this one.

I know I wasn’t the only one who fell out watching Ghost take his mask off in the lead single, “Apollo Kids” video. Soon as I saw that I said, “Yep, he’s back.” Hearing him and Raekwon connect on that one still gets me hyped. The moment Ghost says, “Uh huh, uh huh muthafucka, uh huh I see that, I see that!!!!!” I knew the track was gonna get bodied. “Cherchez LaGhost” was that perfect blend of street and radio that was needed. Ghost can kick out a hit easy. I mean “All That I Got Is You” had us all damn near in tears.

The album was certified gold a month after its release and once again reminded the world that “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin ta Fuck Wit”. From the hilarious “Woodrow the Base Head (skit)” to the “Clyde Smith (skit)”, which was aimed at the up and coming 50 Cent, to the insane production mixed with Ghostface’s own unique slang, Supreme Clientele is, not only in my opinion, the best Wu solo album this century, but one of the greatest albums of all time. This shit belongs in a capsule so in the year 2060 those young kids can get a sample of some legendary darts. This album has aged gracefully and will be on the mouths of hip hop fans for decades to come.