Inside Wu-Tang: New Hulu Series Bridges Old And New Hip-Hop Culture

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Written by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
Wu-Tang Clan
Wood Johnson, manager of Inspectah Deck, Wu-Tang Clan and Uppercut Entertainment. Photo provided to Moguldom by Wood

Little did hip-hop fans know that when Fab 5 Freddy introduced a nine-member rap group from Staten Island, as they stood on a set with life-sized chess pieces and board, that Wu-Tang Clan would be even more relevant than ever in 2019.

The authenticity, energy and flat-out talent of the group continue to endear them to hip-hop fans around the world. The last two years have been packed with 25th anniversary TV appearances, shows and celebrations that did nothing but drive the mystique even further. 

Yet the latest project, a scripted 10-episode series on Hulu, firmly creates another success story for the legendary group. Tackling the very crowded OTT/on-demand viewing choices, Wu-Tang serves up a compelling look into their rise to the top via “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”. Released just last week, the series is garnering positive reviews by both mainstream and hip-hop media alike. It features such actors as Shameik Moore as Raekwon and Siddiq Saunderson as Ghostface Killah.

This project is also important because prior to this, Hulu primarily focused on such series as “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Now it’s branching out. It is also interesting that notable Hollywood producer Brian Grazer (“DaVinci Code”, “American Gangster”, “Boomerang”, “Inside Man” and “Empire”) is a force behind “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”. While the series has been heavily reviewed, anyone in business knows there is always much more to the scenario than the end result. Such projects come to be, in part, by a skilled business team behind the group.

I had a chance to catch up with Wood Johnson, manager of Inspetach Deck, to give us just a few behind-the-scenes business insights on this popular project. Here we go.

We are bridging old and new hip-hop culture and this Hulu series is giving the platform to connect the two.  

Wood, manager of Wu-Tang Clan member Inspetach Deck

Lauren deLisa Coleman: How has response been from the streets on “Wu-Tang: An American Saga”?

Wood: It has been really great! Hulu has done a great job advertising, and I have had nothing but positive feedback. 

Lauren deLisa Coleman: Was it hard for the guys to select the actors/artists who would play them?

Wood: Actually the guys did not select the individuals who played them. They trusted RZA and the casting directors to take the lead since they know the group so well. (Robert “RZA” Fitzgerald Diggs is the de facto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan).

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Lauren deLisa Coleman: Why do you feel documenting history like this is so important and how does it impact today in terms of culture?

Wood: Wu-Tang is one of the founders in hip-hop culture so this history pushes towards the future. We are bridging old and new hip-hop culture and this Hulu series is giving the platform to connect the two.  

Lauren deLisa Coleman: What was it like to be the first hip hop-related project at Hulu?

Wood: It is a blessing for the group. Hulu has a huge platform. If Wu-Tang is the first I hope that means we aren’t the last so it makes a future on Hulu for other hip-hop artists. 

Lauren deLisa Coleman: How do you think such a large group with various personalities and egos has managed to stay together through everything for so long?

Wood: Wu-Tang is a family before music. We have all known each other 30-plus years so no matter what, we are family.

Lauren deLisa Coleman: African-Americans out-index in TV viewing. How do you think we can leverage that fact and deals such as yours to create even more diversity in Hollywood?

Wood: Well, we hope we inspire more diversity not only on Hulu but all networks with this show. 

Lauren deLisa Coleman: Any additional thoughts?

Wood: Yes! Wu-Tang is proud and excited to have not only Showtime but now Hulu to tell Wu-Tang’s story. 

For fans who want more behind-the-scenes on Wu-Tang, follow Wood on Instagram @Wood1919