REVIEW: Hulu delivers the ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ of the crop with ‘An American Saga’

‘Wu-Tang Clan: An American Saga’ dives into the origin story of Staten Island rap group


Graphics of lyrics by Corey Woods, aka Raekwon, from Wu-Tang Clan’s song “C.R.E.A.M.” Hulu’s “Wu-Tang Clan: An American Story,” revisits the mythology of the Staten Island group. Graphic created by Victor Martinez

Victor Corral Martinez

Hulu series “Wu-Tang Clan: An American Saga” works hard to recreate the mythology of the Wu-Tang Clan, but fails to deliver a compelling biopic. 

The series is the work of Wu-Tang Clan founding member Robert Diggs, better known as RZA, and “Watchmen” film screenwriter Alex Tse. 

Story continues below trailer. 


If you have time to kill and want to hear music by Wu-Tang Clan, then this will work for you. If you want a riveting drama that gives you the truth of the Wu-Tang Clan, then you’re better off skipping this series. “American Saga” is good if you want to see where all the influences in their music originated, but as a serious drama, the show flops. 

“American Saga” is more of a visual companion to their lyrics; think along the lines of the 2009 film “Notorious,” which was more of a visual representation of famous lyrics and less about the true life of Biggie Smalls. Ultimately, no one wants to really know Diggs’s real life living in Ohio or working at his father’s convenience store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If I wanted to know their personal lives, I would just watch the many documentaries on the rap group.

The acting has familiar faces seen in award-winning shows and movies but delivers an average performance at best from many characters. As a viewer, you’re spending time trying to figure out who is who in the series and quality of acting takes a backseat. 

Wu-Tang Clan was founded by Diggs and Gary Grice, better known as GZA, on Staten Island, New York. Original members include: Jason Hunter, aka Inspectah Deck; Lamont Hawkins, aka U-God; Dennis Coles, aka Ghostface Killah; Clifford Smith Jr., aka Method Man; Corey Woods, aka Raekwon; Jamel Irief, aka Masta Killa and Russell Jones, aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

Story continues below Spotify playlist: 


Ashton Sanders, from Oscar winner Moonlight, plays an introverted and focused Diggs pursuing music on the side while running the family drug trafficking business. Shameik Moore, the voice of Miles Morales in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,”  plays Woods, T.J. Atoms plays Jones, Siddiq Saunderson from “Messiah” and “Boomerang” plays Coles and Harlem rapper Dave East plays Smith.

The Wu-Tang Clan are all involved with neighborhood rivalries represented by the Park Hill and Stapleton housing projects. The series focuses on Diggs, with major involvement in the drug game on Staten Island. You’re quickly diving deep into struggles concerning family, responsibility, loyalty and street hustle with each member of Wu-Tang Clan.

One of the best parts is the comedic relief by Jones’s character. His eccentric and youthful nature shows that not everything was intense with the many interactions of the members. One scene opens with members of Wu-Tang in a smoking session that turns into an informal rap session initiated by Jones. 

“Who the illest and they sayin’ Ason. Dance with me, baby girl, they playing our song,” Jones raps.

What the series gets perfect is the overall environment. The ’90s style comes alive throughout the show, from the chains being snatched to the Timberland boots and polo shirts. The songs produced by Diggs, Grice and Smith are heard playing from everyone’s cassette players. Cars and their sound systems blasting the members’ songs gives an authentic feel to the time period and the world of the Wu-Tang Clan.

 There are a plethora of Easter eggs throughout the series that showcase the inspirations and samples for the many of the Clan’s first song releases. The first episode opens up with Coles’s brothers watching a Kung Fu movie, “Shaolin & Wu Tang,” which would later be sampled on “Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.”

It’s a fun game spotting the samples and influences from the album throughout the series. Diggs and many of the characters are seen playing vinyl records; these records would eventually provide the samples used by Diggs and Grice on Wu-Tang’s future songs. 

The series will hopefully be picked up for a second season and develop into a much better show. I would really like the series to pick up the storyline to be less about the many secondary characters and focus on the Wu-Tang Clan members themselves.

The series takes many liberties with their histories and feels disingenuine to the true story. If you’re interested in the truth and not the mythology, I would equally recommend watching Showtime’s docuseries, “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men.”