Remember that Wu piece I used to rock on the silver chain? What you probably don’t know is that Wu-Tang Clan’s Forever was my choice when my mom let me buy an album with the explicit lyrics sticker on it. She said I could buy one as a sort of rite of passage going into high school, so I decided to maximize the benefit and get the double album.

Sure enough it was a good choice. That album marked a transition in my own writing style from straight up poetry and short stories, to more raps and experimental verses. I became more reflective and more able to give raw voice to my writing because I was struck by eloquently and creatively this crew of 9 framed their thoughts. Beyond the singles and a few stray tracks I was on the late bus for Enter the 36 Chambers, but I was no less excited about my selection. Here were street thoughts framed poetically. Here were abstract rhymes laid bare over unusual soundscapes, a surreal painting come to life. Here were journal entries on race, crafted carefully and without apology. And here were raw rhymes, as sharp as razor blades piercing through the competition.

I went on to purchase as many of the solo albums as possible, and to this day am trying to figure out where my W ink will go.

Wu-Tang forever.