C. Wright Mills and The Wu Tang Clan


 The Wu Tang Clan


C. Wright Mills

In the first week of my Intro to SOC class, I assigned students an essay called, “Society’s Impact On You” to help them apply what C. Wright Mills calls, “The Sociological Imagination.” Before I set them off to write this biographical exercise in the sociological imagination (teacher note: this was also an excellent way to get to know where my students were coming from, and helpful to remember their names), I demonstrated an exercise of sociological imagination using one of my favorite jamz, C.R.E.A.M. by Wu Tang Clan (rap note: a now infamous rap crew I used to be a part of used another Wu song to help me develop my own sociological imagination. Shoutout to Shorty Rocwell, Sola and Rocky Rivera!)

Many of my students did not know who The Wu Tang Clan was, but they also didn’t know who C. Wright Mills was either. I felt like introducing them together could only add to their magic.

Here’s how it went down:

  1. I projected the table below of the first lines of Raekwon, The Chef’s verse in C.R.E.A.M.
  2. I played the (brilliant sampling and hard knock) snippet of the song as students read along with the words.
  3. I asked the class what types of social, historical, economic forces shaped Raekwon’s biography.
  4. Echoing their ideas, I identified the social institutions and structural forces that shaped Raekwon’s story.

C. Wright Mills and The Wu Tang Clan

The Sociological Imagination



Cash Rules Everything Around Me

By: The Wu Tang Clan

Verse 1


Biography: Raekwon, The Chef



Societal Factors


I grew up on the crime side, the New York Times side

Staying alive was no jive


Had secondhands, Mom’s bounced on old man

So then we moved to Shaolin land


A young youth, rocking the gold tooth, ‘Lo goose

Only way I begin to G off was drug loot


And let’s start it like this son, rollin with this one and that one

Pullin out Gats for fun

But it was just a dream for the teen, who was a fiend

Started smoking woolies at 16




Living in an urban city, neighborhood




Family troubles, poverty, single mother



Work in the informal economy





Extra curricular activity, masculinity, youth culture





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