“Back in the mid ’80s, when Wu-Tang Clan first called themselves Force of the Imperial Master, RZA (then known as the Scientist) built a home studio set-up, replete with a four-track recorder and a borrowed Roland TR-909 drum machine. Wu member Inspectah Deck once described the group’s formative era as akin to “the Fat Albert kids out in the junkyard.” Out of those recording sessions came future classics like “Ra’s Ill,” “Stay Out of Bars,” and “Deadly Venoms.” Their early demo tapes helped turn a crew of fledgling rappers into neighborhood stars in the rough-and-tumble Stapleton Projects. “They were huge in Staten Island before anyone heard of them, and that was from their own mixtapes,” says S.H. “Skiz” Fernando Jr., who recounts the scene in his book From the Streets of Shaolin: The Wu-Tang Saga.”
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