There’s an old story about the Wu-Tang Clan that’s famous among journalists. One day, back in the early ’90s, the rap journalist Cheo Hodari Coker wrote a profile of Wu-Tang for Rap Pages, the now-defunct rap magazine. But the members of the group didn’t show up for their scheduled photoshoot. So the magazine needed to come up with some kind of graphic for the story, and they ended up running the piece with cartoon drawings of the various Wu-Tang members. So the next time Coker met Wu-Tang — when he was profiling them for another magazine, as it happened — Masta Killa punched Coker in the eye and stole his tape recorder. (Masta Killa later denied that it ever happened.) For those of us who have interviewed various Wu-Tang members in the years since, it’s the kind of story we always keep in mind.
Last week, Showtime ran the excellent four-part documentary Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men. It’s a fascinating look at one of the greatest, weirdest acts in the history of American popular music, and it effectively argues that Wu-Tang belong in the pantheon. But even at four hours, it couldn’t include every great story about Wu-Tang.
Coker — now a screenwriter and TV producer who worked on movies like Notorious and Creed II and who served as showrunner on Netflix’s Luke Cage, told the story of that beatdown in a scene that didn’t make it into the final cut of Of Mics And Men. (Sacha Jenkins, the documentary’s director, is a former rap journalist and a contemporary of Coker.) Coker, who says that the whole thing was no big deal, describes everything that happens, and he shows the $60 check — never cashed — that Wu-Tang Productions wrote him for the tape recorder that Masta Killa took. Watch that deleted scene below.
You can watch Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics And Men on Showtime On Demand. Wu-Tang’s new companion-piece EP is out now on Mass Appeal/36 Chambers.