From being inspired by the T-Birds in Grease to the teachings of Islam to the secret back story of the Statue of Liberty (she’s a black woman), the Wu-Tang Clan met their storytelling match in filmmaker Sacha Jenkins.
The director has been a personal fan of the Wu-Tang Clan and has consistently pushed the group's message into the mainstream. He wrote the iconic group's first ever cover story in indie hip-hop newspaper Beat Down in 1992. “Their authenticity is undeniable,” said Jenkins, a native New Yorker who is known for his documentaries Fresh Dressed (about hip-hop fashion), Word is Bond (about hip-hop lyrics), and Burn Motherfucker Burn (about the 1992 Los Angeles uprising after the beating of Rodney King).
Jenkins premiered his documentary series, Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men, at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The docuseries, which will air on Showtime in four episodes this spring, is centered around the reunion of the Staten Island-born crew celebrating the 25th anniversary of their seminal album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and includes never-before-seen, intimate interviews with members getting personal, emotional and political.
The docuseries begins with the members reuniting for their album's anniversary after admitting to hardly any interaction outside of performances. The group sits front and center watching old interviews and clips from the past 20 years of them exploring their neighborhood and performing, intercut with talking head interviews discussing the rise of hip-hop in ‘90s New York. Episode two shifts from hip-hop backstory to the creation of the album and political state of racism and classism in New York at a time that heavily influenced their lyrics and the public perception of the group.
“I want viewers to come away knowing that the Wu-Tang success story is an amazing, important American success story. While their experiences might be different from someone in the suburbs, there are universal themes inside their struggles and success that everyone can relate to,” Jenkins said the day of the premiere. To Jenkins, if there’s any subject that deserves the cable docuseries treatment, it’s Wu-Tang. “If the Grateful Dead can have like a six-part documentary, why can’t Wu-Tang have a four-part documentary?”