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Prince Rakeem; Wu-Tang Clan

Collection of nine cassettes of early Wu-Tang Clan and Prince Rakeem (aka RZA) demos, spring 1991 – April 1992, including a cassette of custom station ID’s recorded for rap radio shows

Lot Closed

July 25, 05:01 PM GMT


6,000 - 9,000 USD

Lot Details


Nine audio cassettes with early recording from Prince Rakeem (today, RZA) and Wutang Clan (today, Wu-Tang Clan), including a cassette of custom station ID’s recorded for rap radio shows, ca. Spring 1991-April 1992. Given to Monica Lynch, then-president of Tommy Boy Records, by RZA and by Tommy Boy A&R rep Kevin Maxwell

Tapes and track listings (where available) in chronological order:

#1. Prince Rakeem - 7 Demo Tracks, ca. Spring 1991

              - "Oh I Love You Rakeem"

              - "Oh I Love You Rakeem (Jeep Dub)"

              - "Which Way Is Up"

              - "That's One To Grow On"

              - "Problems I Got To Solve Them"

              - "It's Murder"

              - "I'm Taking Heads Off"

#2. Prince Rakeem, ca. Spring 1991

              "Sexcapades/Deadly Venom"

#3.  Prince Rakeem, ca. August 1, 1991

              Prince Rakeem Station ID's Recorded at Prime Cut Studios Inc.—customized promo station ID’s recorded by Prince Rakeem for various rap radio shows to promote his single)

#4. Prince Rakeem - New Demos, ca. August 1991 ["8/91"]

              - "Enter The Wu-Tang"

              - "Perversion"

              - "Problems"

              - "You've Been Boned – Instrumental"

#5. Prince Rakeem - Various Songs, ca. September 17, 1991 ["9/17/91"]

              - "Gotta Have Game"

              - "Illusion Of Love"

              - "Life Is A Struggle"

              *Product of a 4 track*

#6. Prince Rakeem, ca. November 6, 1991 ["11/6/91"]

              - "I Get Down For My Crown," 2 Versions (2nd Version Is Edited)

             *Potential of the 4 Track*

#7. Wutang Clan, ca. March 3, 1992

              - "Illusion Of Love Remix - Remix by RNS (Tee Tee)"

              - "Illusion Of Love - Original Mix"

              - "Enter The Wutang (Inst Only)"

              - "Pass The Bone (feat. The Genius)"

#8. Wutang Clan, ca. March 24, 1992 ["For Monica Lynch / Prod. By Prince Rakeem + R.N.S."]

              - "Wu-Tang Master 4:10 xxx"

              - "Problems 4:20"

              - "After The Laughter 3:10"

              - "The Wu's Coming Through 3:10"

              - "Cutting Heads 2:00"

              - "Enter The Wu-Tang 3:18"

              - "Enter The Wu-Tang Inst."

"Produced at Wu-Tang Lab / Very Rough 4 track demos"

Manuscript note on interior j-card insert: "Rakeem produced a TRACK with a producer named D.P. which [sic] I've heaqd is FAT. This track is more suited for radio. In-house by 3/30. P.S. Muggs

productions would work lovely with Rakeem."


#9.  Wutang Clan, ca. April 13, 1992 

- "It's All About Me"

From the personal archives of Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records (1981-1998)


These cassettes document a nearly year-long incubation period during which Robert Diggs, then recording as Prince Rakeem, was morphing into musical genius and business mastermind RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. 

Handwritten notations by RZA and Maxwell on the cassette J-cards reveal the course, starting in spring of 1991, when demos for Prince Rakeem (RZA’s recording alias) were submitted to the label for consideration. A maxi-single for the playalistic ode “Ooh, I Love You Rakeem” b/w “Sexcapades” (which included a “Wu-Tang Mix”) and “Deadly Venoms” was released on July 1, 1991. Production was by noted Hip Hop producer Easy Mo Bee, co-production by Prince Rakeem, and sole writers credits by R. Diggs. The original version, which can be found on YouTube, included a sample of Deniece Williams’ “Free” but, due to clearance issues, was re-recorded. The cover artwork featured a caricature of Prince Rakeem by “Pikasso.” The single was a critical and commercial flop.

While nothing about “Ooh, I Love You Rakeem” suggested what would soon come, the sounds that can be heard on the demos that started trickling in in August of '91 were clearly something entirely new. Darker, different. The spectral Shaolin sound was emerging, key players in the Wu family tree were starting to appear. Prince Rakeem, who had laid low for a minute in Ohio, was in the rear view and RZA was ascendant. The demo tapes - now listing the artist as "Wutang Clan," include track titles for what would be future Wu classics while notes on cassette J-cards indicate versions, suggest possible producer pairings, radio potential, etc.

On December 14, 1992, eight months after the last demo in this collection was submitted (and post RZA's departure from Tommy Boy), the Wu-Tang Clan's debut single “Protect Ya Neck” b/w “After The Laughter Comes Tears,” both produced by RZA, was released on Wu-Tang Records and immediately started to make noise. Soon after, the Wu-Tang Clan - now nine members strong - signed to Steve Rifkind’s hard charging Loud Records and history was made with the November 9, 1993 release of their debut masterpiece Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). 

Twenty-five years later, in October of 2016, Lynch pulled these cassettes out of storage and played snippets from them on the critically acclaimed Hip Hop podcast The Cipher, created and hosted by writer and historian Shawn Setaro and produced by Josh Kross. The tracks played included “Pass The Bone”(feat. The Genius), “Enter The Wu-Tang instrumental”, “I Get Down For My Crown," and “Illusions Of Love.” As a result of the podcast, RZA himself was able to once again hear “Illusion Of Love,” a long lost track, the demo for which could not be found. The following message from RZA was shared with her by Wu collaborator Cilvaringz:

"It was really cool and funny to hear them. Meth joking on me and the illusion of love song radiated the most with me. I get down for my crown is not the 1990 version with Meth Ugod and Deck."

Soon after, a digital copy of "Illusion Of Love" was dispatched to RZA to hold onto for posterity.

These physical artifacts are a glimpse into an early window of time during which RZA was manifesting his revolutionary sound and dynastic vision for the Wu-Tang Clan.