Popa Wu performs in New York City in 2017
Photo: Al Pereira/Getty Images
Popa Wu, Wu-Tang Clan Affiliate and Mentor, Dies at 63
Popa Wu, a longtime affiliate of and mentor to legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, died Dec. 16. He was 63.
Reports of Popa Wu's death hit the internet earlier this week when various members and associates of Wu-Tang Clan, as well as other artists and representatives from the wider hip-hop community, began posting tributes to him on social media. Wu-Tang member U-God wrote on Twitter, "RIP to the one and only PAPA WU our sincerest condolences go out to the entire family," while DJ/rapper Pete Rock, who's produced for various Wu-Tang members, lamented, "the angels got you."
Popa Wu, who also went by Freedum Allah, was largely considered a "spiritual mentor" to Wu-Tang Clan. He was a staunch supporter of the Five-Percent Nation, a cultural movement and an offshoot of the Nation of Islam rooted in 1960s America, and preached its philosophies and beliefs on several Wu-Tang Clan songs.
While never an official member of Wu-Tang Clan, Popa Wu was involved in the group's original formation in the early '90s. In addition to being the father of Wu-Tang-affiliated rappers ShaCronz and Free Murda, Popa Wu was also a cousin of the band's de facto leader, RZA, and was related to original members GZA and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard.
Popa Wu's credits alongside Wu-Tang Clan and its various members include: "Wu-Revolution," the opening track of the group's 1997 GRAMMY-nominated (Best Rap Album) double album, Wu-Tang Forever; "Black Jesus" and "All That I Got Is You" from Ghostface Killah; and "North Star" from Raekwon. Popa Wu was also behind a two-part compilation series comprising a number of tracks from various Wu-Tang Clan members and associated artists: Visions Of The 10th Chamber in 2000 and the coinciding Visions Of The 10th Chamber Part II in 2008.
Most recently, Popa Wu appeared in the newly launched Hulu web TV miniseries "Wu-Tang: An American Saga," which is based on the early years and formation of Wu-Tang Clan.
Following the news of Popa Wu's death, members of Wu-Tang Clan and the larger hip-hop community commemorated his legacy and his influence on the scene.