In­ner city youth rise to rap star­dom in ‘Wu-Tang: An Amer­i­can Saga’

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Edito'rs' Choice - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

Wu-Tang Clan is con­sid­ered among the most im­por­tant rap groups of all time, re­spon­si­ble for four gold and platinum al­bums and launch­ing the ca­reers of a num­ber of re­lated artists and groups.

The story of how they rose from the drug- and crime-in­fested streets of Staten Is­land, N.Y., to mu­sic star­dom is told in the Hulu drama se­ries “Wu-Tang: An Amer­i­can Saga,” drop­ping with the first three episodes Wed­nes­day, Sept. 4.

Set in the early ‘90s at the height of New York City’s crack co­caine epi­demic, the se­ries fol­lows the Clan’s for­ma­tion, a vi­sion of Bobby Diggs, aka The RZA (Ash­ton San­ders, “Moon­light”), who en­deav­ors to unite a dozen young black men caught be­tween the pulls of crime and mu­sic who wind up be­com­ing the un­like­li­est of Amer­i­can suc­cess sto­ries.

Cre­ated and ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by The RZA and Alex Tse (“Sucker Free City”), the 10-episode se­ries also stars Dave East (“Beats”), Shameik Moore (“The Get Down”), Sid­diq Saun­der­son (“Boomerang”), Mar­cus Cal­len­der (“Power”) and TJ Atoms (“You”).

“Wu-Tang has al­ways en­ter­tained but also in­spired,” The RZA explained to a re­cent gath­er­ing of journalist­s in Bev­erly Hills, Calif. “And this show is in­spi­ra­tional, when you go through the jour­ney of th­ese young men, there’s so many young people go­ing through the same thing right now . ... One of the rea­sons we called it ‘An Amer­i­can Saga’ (is because) this is an Amer­i­can story. This takes place first here in our world ... but young people around the world I know will re­late to it because everybody’s try­ing to grow out of the mud, shall we say.”

That’s best ex­em­pli­fied by the main char­ac­ter of Diggs, a tal­ented teen with an ear for rhyme and rhythm who sees mu­sic as his es­cape from the drugs and vi­o­lence around him. But in the open­ing episode, the lure of crime be­comes ap­par­ent when he at­tempts to steal a $2,000 drum ma­chine that he badly wants but can’t af­ford from a mu­sic store. Caught by an em­ployee, he’s told to put it back and he won’t be banned.

The ma­chine, which he sees as the key to un­lock­ing his song­writ­ing, eventually be­comes his.

Ash­ton San­ders

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