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'Of Wu Tang and things…I’d say off the bat it’s the Ol' dirty bastard, asking me to destroy the negatives, that will never leave me. Meth showing me his new trick with eye and cap. U-god with a plaster on his face. The Rza in a bath tub at the Met hotel. Watching the entire Wu-Tang Clan getting passport pictures at Earl Court station. The Shows. The distinct smell of blunts and weed that hung in the air. Papa Wu inviting me on the coach and traveling from Putney to Kentish Town with a pit stop in Earls Court. Young dirty Bastard’s performance of Shimmy Shimmy Ya Shimmy Yam Shimmy yah. From the first encounter to my last, the Wu have never failed to disappoint.
The first time I met the Wu-Tang was in 1994, they were meant to be in a sound check, and were instead throwing rocks at passing trains, It was a hallmark of every encounter, a wild ride. The concert was scheduled for the Kentish Town Forum and word had gone around they where in London. In my hunt for them I went to the record company and my first encounter with the Wu-Tang began as they were coming out of the building on their way to Kentish Town to do their soundcheck. I heard them before I saw them, so my camera was ready. I managed to get on the coach and rolled with them while they listened to deep soul music. Their passion for the life of Hip Hop is undeniable and our hook ups were built on the premise that I was documenting Hip Hop through my photography.
On the second occasion I was working for MixMag and the shoot was scheduled in a photographic studio. I would share the time slot with Time Out who were running a cover story. On that occasion, I had hoped to complete my Wu collection, I didn't. The Rza didn't appear.
The third time I encountered the Wu it was just the Rza and he was in full Bobby Digital mode and that meant his iconography was masked by a conceptual identity.
The fourth was Cappadona in Brixton but the last time was in Los Angeles and there I met Ol Dirty’s son. He came through to host my show in LA. On the opening night we held a block party in the car park of Melrose where the RZA rolled through and spent the whole night holding court.
We exchanged words as I toured the gallery giving him the details of all the times we’d met. We had a PlayStation with the Wu Tang game on it. Young Dirty smashed it. I took one shot that night, just one. It’s been 25 years in the making. What you have here a rarified glimpse at the lead images and contact sheets of seeking out members of the Wu-Tang Clan and putting their mythos on blast. I got one shot. This was the last time we held a cipher.'
- Eddie Otchere
Café Royal Books (founded 2005) is an independent publisher based in Southport, England. Originally set up as a way to disseminate art, in multiple, affordably, quickly, and internationally while not relying on 'the gallery'. Café Royal Books publishes artist's books and zines as well as a weekly series of photobook/zines. The photographic publications are part of a long ongoing series, generally working with photographers and their archives, to publish work, which usually falls into 1970–2000 UK documentary / reportage.
Published by Café Royal Books
140 x 200 mm