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In an interview with CBC Radio, Wu-Tang Clan DJ Allah Mathematics describes the phone call that led him to create one of the most iconic logos in the history of popular culture.

“He (RZA) was getting ready to print [lead Wu-Tang single] ‘Protect ya Neck’ and he called me up. ‘I need a logo and I need it tomorrow.’ Damn, alright. I was living in 40 Projects [in Jamaica, Queens] at the time, I went to the store and got me a 40-ounce of Olde English 800 — we called it Old Gold — [and] a Philly blunt and rolled up some chocolate Thai, smoked that, and I drew the logo. It just came out. I did graffiti so I had this type of lettering down already, it was basically one of my letterings.”

In the years since their 1993 debut, this logo — a minimal, yet evocative image of a yellow W (that also resembles a wingspread bird) — has spearheaded the Wu-Tang’s effort of carving out a brand identity as unique and identifiable as the Rolling Stones, McDonalds or Apple. In addition to the iconic logo, the Wu has used the unlikely fusion of hip-hop and imagery taken from pioneering Hong Kong filmmakers The Shaw Brothers and blended those influences into a distinctive visual stew. Whether it’s Ghostface’s masks, hand-dipped Wallabee Clarks, Raekwon’s gold teeth or the Gza’s flying guillotine, the Wu-Tang is as much a visual/artistic experience as an auditory/musical one. 

On Saturday, November 9th, Philly Art Collective Gallery will host an exhibition celebrating the Wu-Tang’s rich visual legacy. Up and coming area artists will exhibit a range of paintings and portraits depicting the clan on all their chaotic, majestic glory. Although donations are encouraged, the event will be free, allowing music and art lovers an ample opportunity to support a cadre of local artists exploring the legacy of this legendary group. More information can be found here

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