Sunz of Man is a Wu-Tang Clan affiliated group that currently consists of Prodigal Sunn, Hell Razah, 60 Second Assassin and Killah Priest. The group’s first incarnation also included 7th Ambassador and Supreme. It is one of the earliest and most successful of Wu affiliates along with Killarmy, basing much of its lyrical content on biblical stories, social issues & conspiracy theories.
Prior to being affiliated with Wu-Tang, Sunz were initially known as Da Last Future and included Shabazz the Disciple, 7th Ambassador and producer Su-Preme, but not 60 Second Assassin,.Upon their induction into the Wu-Tang family, the group became the first group signed to Wu-Tang Records. In 1995 and 1996, the group released a number of singles, including “No Love Without Hate”, “Soldiers of Darkness” (a collaboration with Killarmy), “Five Arch Angels” and “Bloody Choices”. These tracks were to be included on the group’s planned debut album Nothing New Under the Sun, originally scheduled for release in 1996. Due to label complications, the album was eventually shelved. It has been rumored that this album was actually completed, due to the appearance of several ads featured in various Hip Hop magazines such as The Source. It has been said that this album had a much darker atmosphere than the group’s later work, with the bulk of the production coming from 4th Disciple, with additional beats by RZA, True Master, Allah Mathematics, Su-Preme, Y-Kim the Illfigure and the late Grym Reaper. By the time the group switched record labels, Shabazz and 7th Ambassador had left the group.
In 1997, the group signed a deal with Red Ant Entertainment. Their first release on the label was the “We Can’t Be Touched” b/w “Natural High” single, released that same year. They also made an appearance on Mood’s debut album Doom on the song “Illuminated Sunlight”. “Natural High” was included on the group’s 1998 debut album The Last Shall be First. The album featured production from Su-Preme, as well as Wu producers RZA, 4th Disciple and True Master, and Wyclef Jean. Album guests included Wu-Tang members Masta Killa, Method Man, Raekwon, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and U-God, as well as Killarmy’s Beretta 9, Dreddy Kruger and Tekitha. The album saw an impressive debut at #20 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and #7 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts.The album received moderate acclaim from critics, and was met with mixed reactions from Wu-Tang fans, who were expecting a darker sound similar to their earlier work.
Before the release of the debut, Killah Priest began to clash with Wu leader RZA, as Shabazz had earlier, both eventually cutting their Wu ties, and leaving the group for solo careers. In 1999, the album The First Testament was released, compiled of the group’s earlier work, with contributions from Shabazz and 7th Ambassador. A number of tracks from the album were released on singles, including “Deep in the Water”, “In the Beginning…” and “The Sins of Men”. However, due to heavy bootlegging, the album never saw a proper release. The group took a hiatus, while Killah Priest established his solo career.
Hell Razah, Prodigal Sunn and 60 Second Assassin, returned in 2002 with the group’s second official studio album Saviorz Day. The album was met with a lukewarm reception commercially] and critically. In 2004, The First Testament saw a re-release asElements, which featured most of the tracks from The First Testament, as well as a handful of other previously unreleased tracks. Later in 2004, Hell Razah and 4th Disciple (under the prefix “Sunz of Man presents”) released the album Freedom of Speech,which spawned the single “Article One” b/w “Project Love”. In 2003, Shabazz announced a return to the group, but a new group album has yet to be recorded, and no further efforts were made. The group’s most recent release was a 2006 compilation titled The Old Testament, which features the group’s early singles as well as some of their later hits.
Killah Priest was the first SoM member to embark on a solo career, releasing his acclaimed debut album Heavy Mental a few months prior to The Last Shall Be First. He released more studio albums, 2000’s View From Masada, 2001’s Priesthood, 2003’s Black August and 2007’s The Offering. Hell Razah released his solo debut When All Hell Breaks Loose in 2001 and received little attention. Shabazz the Disciple released his long-delayed debut album The Book of Shabazz (Hidden Scrollz) in 2003, which included a number of his early singles, such as “Crime Saga”, “The Lamb’s Blood” and “Street Parables”. Prodigal Sunn released his solo debut The Return of the Prodigal Sunn in 2005. Also in 2005, Killah Priest and Hell Razah, along with Royal Fam’s Timbo King and New York veteran Tragedy Khadafi formed the Black Market Militia, and released their self-titled album. Hell Razah released two albums in 2007, first Renaissance Child in February, and second Razah’s Ladder, a collaboration with producers Blue Sky Black Death, released in October. Razah and Shabazz teamed up with producer Ayatollah in 2008 to form T.H.U.G. Angelz, and release their debut Welcome to Red Hook Houses.–
The Last Shall Be First is the debut album by Sunz of Man, one of the most heralded early releases by Wu-Tang affiliates. Unlike the follow-up, Saviorz Day, The Last Shall Be First features all four members of the group, although Killah Priest only appears on five of the album’s songs because he was recording his solo debut Heavy Mental at the same time.
Production on the album was handled by the Wu-Elements (The RZA, True Master and 4th Disciple) with additional contributions coming from Supreme Kourt and Wyclef Jean. The album itself is becoming very rare because Red Ant ceased operations, and it sold 350,000 units. Some pressings of the disc are black with the sun logo faintly visible and others are orange with the text and the sun logo clearly visible on the disc.
Sunz of Man Featured In To “A Better Tomorrow” and in Celebration of 21 Years: The 21 Greatest Wu-Tang Clan Albums
Words by Paul Meara (@PaulMeara)
No group in the history of hip-hop music has released more classic albums than Wu-Tang Clan. And while it may be unfair to compare them to any other collective of emcees (they had 9+) there is no doubt their influence on hip-hop music was mad heavy. Their classic LPs spawned classic LPs… Read More