Synopsis: Off the release of their debut album and their continued rise to fame, we follow the Wu-Tang Clan over the course of their five-year plan as they face and overcome different challenges. While each of the members go on separate journeys to figure out where they fit in the music world, RZA struggles to stay on top of things in order to fulfill the promise he made to his Wu brothers. As money, fame, ego, and business threaten to tear the group apart, they must find a way to come together and cement their legacy.
It’s hard to know when to call it quits or move on. Do you keep it going as long as there is interest? Do you bow out while you’re on top? Or, do you stick around for as long as the love is vibrant? I feel it’s infinitely better to leave people wanting more than to overstay your welcome, however, you have to wonder if you served enough to satiate the appetites in the first place. I say all that to say, our favorite shows all end at some point, whether naturally or by cancellation. Some go on way too long and we debate on which season they should’ve stopped. And then there are shows that know how to complete a full story and end on a high note, even if we want more. Sometimes it’s just time.
“This the new elegant shit right here.”
Peace gods. All good things eventually come to an end—it’s sad but true. Not only is season 3 of this transport into the golden era of hip-hop creatively triumphant and highly entertaining, but it is also the final one and it goes out in Wu-style. It’s somewhat bittersweet since each season is better than the last and there is so much more that could be explored, but as I said above, maybe the time is just right, and leaving some mystery is probably for the best.
Now, I’ve only been granted access to episodes 1 through 8 of the 10, so as to how it ends, your guess is as good as mine. However, after the third allegorical movie which is the eighth episode, we can see the direction that the final two episodes are headed. This go-around, the story is more diverse as each member gets a sizable bite of the season and many notable aspects of the Wu-lore unfold in multiple short films with alter egos that we know from various albums. While the first season was a crime drama and the second was the rise to notoriety, the third season focuses on the struggles of success and the difficulties of keeping everyone together as egos inflate. From celebratory episodes with parties, Cristal, and new cars, stress-inducing pleads to sign deals, to a post-apocalyptic Shaolin journey, this season plans to end in memorable fashion.
“All dope lyrics have messages.”
This season has a faster pace than the previous two as huge storylines are interwoven and packed full of career highlights and milestones. From Method Man having a remix with Mary J Blige, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard wanting to do a song with Mariah Carey, to classic albums like Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx being crafted and cultivated, and all the drama in between, everything is on the table. We also hear names and see portrayals of music industry legends such as Puff Daddy, Tommy Mottola, Busta Rhymes, and the birth of Wu-Wear. Nonetheless, the core of the season is RZA struggling to do it all and balance being an executive and an artist while trying to keep everyone happy, including himself. Pressure continues to mount with each passing scene as fans, labels, and members of the Clan grow impatient.
The chemistry is the best it’s ever been. Siddiq Saunderson (Ghostface) and Zolee Griggs (Shurrie) are the heart and humanity of the season as they bring a softer side and relatability. Together, along with the rest of the cast, show that these legends are more than their rap personas. They remind us that behind all the dope lyrics, NY slang, and machismo are families, hardships, pain, and loving individuals. As a Black man, empathize and relate to many of their trials and tribulations, however, you’ll find that many aspects of their journey are universal. There’s love, friendships on the rocks, business moves, family dysfunction, winning, and perseverance. And it all unfolds with iconic as its soundtrack. As each episode fast-forwards months at a time, each episode feels like its own even while connected to a greater whole. Nevertheless, we don’t miss out on any information or notable moments. The acting is phenomenal all around. I want to highlight Uyoata Udi as Inspectah Deck because he does a lot of his acting with his eyes and it’s fantastic. You can’t tell if he’s plotting, writing rhymes in his head, or both but it makes him worth watching. I loved this season, you don’t want to miss it. Its rewatchability is high.
In an attempt to avoid picking the majority of the episodes, when it came to picking the best, I narrowed it down to three of them. And don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.
Episode 2: All I Need – RZA needs to make amends with his cousin in order to fulfill contractual obligations or they will be in financial trouble. Also, Raekwon and Ghostface continue to grow and they flirt with the idea of a joint album (you know which album). This is the episode that wakes the season up.
Episode 6: Criminology – This episode is the second allegorical movie of the season. Straight from album skits, this moody, gangsta, drug-flippin’ episode feels reminiscent of Belly. It dives into the inspiration behind Raekwon’s album. It’s full of hustling, corruption, and bloodshed.
Episode 7: Shadowboxin’ – This is a high-tension episode with the same energy as Uncut Gems. Divine is doing what he does best, running the business, however, as egos grow out of control, it becomes very difficult to follow through on huge promises he made to Tommy Mottola.
Starring: Ashton Sanders, Shameik Moore, Siddiq Saunderson, Julian Elijah Martinez, Marcus Callender, Zolee Griggs, T.J. Atoms, Dave East, Johnell Young, Uyoata Udi, and Damani Sease
With this series, RZA and Alex Tse set a new standard for shows of the same kind and raised the bar on itself with each season. Hopefully, it piqued enough interest from other artists in the genre to want to serialize their stories. I’m not sure who the next should be but growing up during a time of zero to very few cell phones, I know there are thousands of stories that have yet to be told. For all of those that missed out on Wu-Wednesdays, that’s the beauty of streaming, you can go back and see what all the hype is about.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga season 3 begins streaming on Hulu on February 15, 2023. Remain safe and enjoy. Bong!
Rated: TV-MA Runtime: 50m Executive Producers: Alex Tse, The RZA, Method Man and Brian Grazer
Creatively triumphant and highly entertaining
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.