Hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan recently was the subject of a four-part documentary series on Showtime, but founding member RZA says that Hulu’s forthcoming Wu drama will give viewers even more of a glimpse into the band as there were things the members were “too shy to say in front of a camera”.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which launches September 4 on the streaming platform, tells the story of the band starting in early 1990s. It looks at the group’s members, who grew up during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, and tracks the Clan’s formation — a vision of Bobby Diggs aka RZA, who strives to unite a dozen young black men who are torn between music and crime but eventually rise to become the unlikeliest of American success stories.
“Wu Tang has always entertained and inspired, and this show is inspirational,” RZA said. “The documentary touches on one thing, but this show touches on things that we were maybe shy to say in front of a camera. When you grow up in the ‘hood, you think every camera is a cop. But as mature men, we are willing to tell our story.”
The series stars Shameik Moore, Dave East, Siddiq Saunderson, Marcus Callender, Julian Elijah Martinez, Zolee Griggs, Erika Alexander, TJ Atoms and Johnell Young.
The drama’s origin story begins when Brian Gazer — an exec producer on the show alongside Francie Calfo, RZA, Method Man and co-creator Alex Tse — was making American Gangster.
Speaking at the TCA summer press tour, Grazer said: “[Wu-Tang Clan] was a very unique band, they were an aberration, just the size and shape and of course transporting Eastern thought into their band. They were very dynamic to watch, and I became fascinated. Ridley Scott and I were making a movie called American Gangster and we said, ‘Let’s hire RZA’ and not only was he good in it, but he brought a soul to it that Denzel [Washington] and Russell [Crowe] really unified by. And I became very attracted to his story and what the Wu-Tang had become. They never sold themselves out, and that’s something the kids always knew. And because they knew that, they wanted to know more and more.”
He added that the timing is ideal to launch the show. “Fortunately or serendipitously, the kids are really into the ’90s as an era, and that intersects with our show,” Grazer added.
Watchmen writer Tse said he calls the project “historical fiction.” “There are things in it that actually happened and there are version of events, some in their own timeline. But spiritually it’s very truthful and accurate,” he said.
RZA added: “Since everything is based in reality, it’s more the timeline [that’s changed]. You can’t take every moment, so you condense the moments like concentrated grape juice and the audience pours water onto it.”
Hulu will release the first three episodes of the drama series on Wednesday, September 4, with the remaining seven episodes streaming weekly. The creative team admitted that this is not a limited series and would love to do “multiple seasons”.