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:
- I projected the table below of the first lines of Raekwon, The Chef’s verse in C.R.E.A.M.
- I played the (brilliant sampling and hard knock) snippet of the song as students read along with the words.
- I asked the class what types of social, historical, economic forces shaped Raekwon’s biography.
- 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
Biography: Raekwon, The Chef
Living in an urban city, neighborhood
Family troubles, poverty, single mother
Work in the informal economy
Extra curricular activity, masculinity, youth culture