“C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan
“C.R.E.A.M.” (Cash Rules Everything Around Me), a term synonymous with the golden era of hip-hop, represents more than just a song; it’s a cultural phenomenon. Originating from the gritty streets of Staten Island, New York, Wu-Tang Clan emerged as a powerhouse in the music industry. Their anthem, “C.R.E.A.M.” became a voice for the voiceless and a beacon of raw, unfiltered artistry. Learn more about the members of the Wu-Tang Clan and their history.
Origins and Meaning of “C.R.E.A.M.”
In the early 1990s, hip-hop was undergoing a significant transformation, and Wu-Tang Clan, with their unique sound and profound lyrics, brought a new dimension to the music scene. “C.R.E.A.M.” encapsulates the struggles and aspirations of urban life, vividly portraying the group’s background and the harsh realities they faced. The song’s title, an acronym for “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” has become a popular slang term for money, widely used in hip-hop culture.
Related: 20 Best 90s Hip-Hop Songs
The Instrumental: Samples and Production
The instrumental of “C.R.E.A.M.” is a masterpiece of hip-hop production, showcasing RZA’s innovative approach to beat-making. The track features a prominent sample from the Charmels’ 1967 song “As Long As I’ve Got You,” providing a soulful and melancholic backdrop to the rappers’ verses. Listen to the original sample below:
RZA’s production methods were groundbreaking, combining classic soul samples with gritty, hard-hitting beats. This fusion created a sound that was both raw and sophisticated, setting a new standard in hip-hop music.
“C.R.E.A.M” Lyrics: Raekwon and Inspectah Deck’s Verses
“C.R.E.A.M.” lyrics are delivered by Raekwon and Inspectah Deck, with a memorable hook by Method Man. Raekwon opens the track with, “I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side/Staying alive was no jive,” painting a vivid picture of the struggles and hustles of street life. His verse is a raw and unfiltered portrayal of growing up in urban America, touching on poverty, crime, and the pursuit of money.
“I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side/Staying alive was no jive”
Inspectah Deck follows with, “It’s been twenty-two long hard years, I’m still strugglin’/Survival got me buggin’, but I’m alive on arrival,” adding his perspective on the hardships of life in the streets. His lyrics are poignant and impactful, offering a glimpse into the challenges and choices those in the inner city face.
“It’s been twenty-two long hard years, I’m still strugglin’/Survival got me buggin’, but I’m alive on arrival,”
Method Man’s hook, “Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M./Get the money; dollar, dollar bill, y’all,” has become one of the most iconic choruses in hip-hop history. It encapsulates the song’s central theme and has resonated with audiences worldwide.
Cultural Impact and Achievements
“C.R.E.A.M.” wasn’t just a song but a movement. It resonated with millions, influencing fashion, language, and lifestyle. The song peaked at number eight on the Hot Rap Songs chart and 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, reaching number 60 on the Hot 100. This made it the highest-charting Wu-Tang Clan track ever. In 2009, it was certified Gold in the United States by the RIAA, a testament to its enduring popularity.
Influence in Music and Pop Culture
- Widespread Sampling and Interpolation: “C.R.E.A.M.” has been sampled and interpolated by numerous artists, reflecting its enduring impact on the music industry. For instance, Drake and Jay-Z used the song’s hook in their track “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2” from Drake’s 2013 album “Nothing Was the Same.”
- Adaptation in Other Music Genres: The song’s influence extends beyond hip-hop. In 2019, Miley Cyrus sampled “C.R.E.A.M.” for her promotional single “D.R.E.A.M.” (an acronym for “Drugs Rule Everything Around Me”) from her EP “She Is Coming,” featuring Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah.
- Recognition and Accolades: “C.R.E.A.M.” has been recognized by various publications as one of the greatest hip-hop songs and even one of the greatest songs ever. It was included in Time’s All-Time 100 Greatest Songs list and ranked number 11 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.
Influence in Movies and Television
- Film Feature: The song was featured in the 2002 film “8 Mile,” centered around the world of hip-hop and rap battles.
- Television Series Adaptation: Composer Ramin Djawadi, known for scoring HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” covered “C.R.E.A.M.” for the HBO series “Westworld.” This cover appeared in the show’s second season, showcasing the song’s versatility and appeal across different media formats.
“C.R.E.A.M.” by Wu-Tang Clan is more than a song; it’s a historical piece that tells the story of where they’re from and what it’s like for them. It’s a poignant portrayal of life in America’s hoods and is a significant moment in hip-hop history, showcasing the group’s commitment to authenticity and realism.
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