Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers of Cubs
Cubs Rule Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M., win the pennant, wait until next year, y’all!
Those of you out there under the age of 30 might not remember the mail-order CD vendors, those two-page Parade Magazine inserts that touted something like 12 discs for a penny. Now I’m hooked into the Disney Movie Club, but once upon a yesteryear, I was able to take advantage of this awesome deal with BMG Music.
This was somewhere around 1993 and hip-hop was really starting to hit its stride and the illicit appeal was particularly enticing to a 14-year-old kid from rural Northwest Indiana. As such, my order was populated by a lot of albums that my parents would never have purchased for me had they known about it.
I can’t recall every title I picked up in that first order, though Del the Funky Homosapien’s No Need for Alarm stands out. And it wasn’t all rap either; I remember getting Stone Temple Pilots and Megadeath as well. But none of those resonated with me to nearly the same extent as the two genius efforts that I still list among my all-time favorites.
The first was Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, a seminal West Coast gangsta rap joint that introduced a new style, sound, and look to a generation that had grown up on MTV. It also launched the career of a gangly, young rapper named Snoop Doggy Dogg. I remember regular lunch-table recitations of the $20 Sack Pyramid at school and developing a strong distaste for Easy E and Luke Campbell; those were the days.
But that impact, while more immediate, eventually paled in comparison to that of the raw, unbridled grit of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers. The dynamism of this nonet (sometimes an octet, sometimes even a dectet or more) was something I had never experienced before and just couldn’t get enough of.
My fanaticism grew to the point that my nickname in college became Wu. Upon one trip back to my alma mater for homecoming, I introduced myself to one of my undergraduate fraternity brothers with little fanfare. Then another guy excitedly greeted me as “Brother Wu” and the younger kid exclaimed, “Oh, that’s you!”
The custom Cubs and Bears jerseys hanging in my closet bear the number 36, and it’s not because of Edwin Jackson or Anthony Marshall. I can even rattle off the names of the 10 main members of the group in under 4 seconds, which I consider among my greatest accomplishments in life, just behind scoring 400 points in Magic Johnson’s Fast Break.
Given all this, I wanted to try to combine my two great pop culture loves in a Frankensteinian manner. I can’t imagine this striking a chord with many of you out there; indeed, many labors of love give birth to truly hideous babies. So this might be the opposite of click-bait, but it’s something that been banging around the cavernous hollow of my brain pan, so I figured I should let it out.
So without further ado, let me start tossin’, enforcin’, since my style is indeed awesome. I understand that my choices may well cause more family feuds than Richard Dawson, but I think in the end my style will carry like a pickup truck. I asked one person, What current Cubs players would you relate to members of the Wu-Tang Clan? Survey says…
This person has to be the sharpest em-effer in the whole clan, someone who’s always on point. For that reason, I can go with none other than Joe Maddon. The way he conducted his now-infamous intro press conference leaves me with no doubt that he’s just the man to produce a winner in Chicago.
When I think of the backbone of this team, I think of Anthony Rizzo. If the Cubs formed like Voltron, Rizzo would definitely be the head. He did plenty of talking with his bat, but he wasn’t afraid to step up and take on the whole Cincinnati Reds dugout when he felt that his team was being disrespected. This kid’s the unquestioned leader right now.
Ol’ Dirty Bastard
This one’s easy; it’s Javier Baez because, like ODB, there ain’t no fatha to his style. He swings out of his shoes, bats from the right side even though he’s a lefty, and has had the MLB logo tattooed on the back of his neck since well before he was first called up. Shimmy Shimmy Ya, indeed.
He’s that dude that’ll sit back and watch you play yourself and all that, right? And see you sit there and know you lyin’ and he’ll take you to court after that. In his first MLB at-bat, Jorge Soler took a few pitches from Mat Latos (one of the guys involved in the aforementioned fracas with Rizzo) and then blasted a 423-foot bomb on his first swing as a member of the Cubs.
*mandatory anecdote warning*
Just as Soler started his career with a bang, the Rebel INS is known for starting Wu-Tang tracks with a phenomenal verse. One such verse came on the song Triumph, the first single from Wu-Tang Forever. You know it, I’m sure: I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses can’t define how I be droppin’ these…mockeries, lyrically perform armed robberies, flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me…
That is probably my all-time favorite rap verse and I find that it comes in handy if ever I need to establish my street cred. Such was the case for my younger brother, who was stationed at Twentynine Palms in the SoCal desert early in his Marine Corps service. Here he was, this country bumpkin, surrounded by fellow Marines from more urban regions.
One young woman in particular hailed from Brooklyn and was quick to let people know about it at every opportunity. As the story goes, they were sitting around a table during a break or a meal and she stared spitting Deck’s verse. After a couple bars, my brother jumped in and dropped the rest of it to a series of dropped jaws. Good times.
Ah, The Chef, cookin’ up some marvelous [stuff] to make your mouth water. Who else could this be but Kris Bryant, whose winning smile and eye-popping number have got everyone around baseball drooling in anticipation? No one, that’s who.
I don’t know that he’s a psychopathic thinker, but Arismendy Alcantara seems to fit well here. While he’s a little inconsistent and is often overshadowed by the bigger names in the group, there are moments when he steps up in a big way shows incredible skill.
Ghost is on some now you see me, now you don’t stuff, which make Jake Arrieta the perfect comparison. The Cubs’ burgeoning ace was nearly unhittable for much of the season, throwing pitches that seemed to disappear as they approached the hapless hitters.
Welington Castillo feels like a good fit here. Given all the Russell Martin talk, Beef feels pretty expendable. Similarly, I don’t know anyone who’d shed a tear if the High Chief Jamel Arief failed to take the stage for a Wu show or track.
He gets his name from the fact that they’s mad different methods to the way he do his style, so for that reason I am going with Kyle Hendricks here. He works quickly but doesn’t hurry, his style on the mound is, dare I say, methodical.
In my opinion, one of the most under-appreciated members of the group, I gained a great deal of respect for Donna after listening to his debut album, The Pillage. Likewise, Starlin Castro had an incredibly strong debut and tends to suffer from a lack of respect from fans and media alike.
While he’s not really a member of the Clan, Remedy managed to log a couple minutes of fame in the wake of Eminem’s success, as Rolling Stone and other outlets sought to promote hip-hop’s next Great White Hope. In a similar fashion, the Cubs signed E-Jax after missing out on other options. Lead balloons wouldn’t fall as fast as the stock in these two.
So there you have it, the definitive list. Where did I mess up, aside from deciding to write this in the first place? Any names you’d change around? Now stop reading and go listen to 36 Chambers. Then come back and read more.