Wu-Tang Clan’s debut single, “Protect Ya Neck” was recorded in 1992 at a little studio called The Firehouse, for a paltry sum of $300.
How crazy that this independent record would launch the careers of nine killer MCs and become the first brick in an entertainment empire that would span music, movies, TV shows, clothing and video games.
To fund the studio session, RZA charged all the rappers he wanted on “Protect Ya Neck” $100 to get on the record. “We all paid our $100 to get on the joint to pay for studio time,” Method Man told Complex. “Ni**as was hustling on the block at the time, so $100 was like sell 10 cracks and you in.”
In an interview with Red Bull Music Academy, Yoram Vazan, the engineer who ran The Firehouse, remembers getting paid for the studio session, “It was like $300 or so. I remember they used to pay me with quarters! It was so funny. At that point I knew them for a few years; I always told them, “Don’t worry about it, you’ll come back.”
Vazan also revealed that Wu-Tang recorded “Tearz” during the same studio session.
They did “Protect Ya Neck” and I forgot what was on the b-side [“After the Laughter Comes Tears”]. I let one of my new engineers, Carlos Bess, do it. It was an amazing track, very wild and hardcore. I used to walk in and out of the room and hang out and listen to the stuff but when they finished they didn’t have enough money to pay! I told RZA, “Don’t worry about it, man, give me it when you have it.” They put the record out and it became an amazing underground hit. Actually, at that point we moved the studio from Brooklyn to Manhattan and RZA calls me up and says, “Yo, we’re gonna pay you back. We got five or six albums to do and we’re gonna do them all at Firehouse.” It was Method Man, ODB, Gravediggaz and a bunch of others.Interview: Yoram Vazan of The Firehouse | Red Bull Music Academy Daily