In 2018, the “Black Panther” had the world in a chokehold. Particularly for Black children, this was one of the first times they were able to see themselves on the big screen as a leading superhero. From the coveted Wakanda signal to the merch and apparel, children (and childlike people) everywhere were enamored by the glory of representation.
As the world slowly progresses forward, there are clear examples of representation becoming more of the norm — for instance, in television shows (“Black-ish” and “The Wonder Years”) and video games like Fortnite.
Fortnite Enters The Chat
When Fortnite hit the scene, it immediately became a cult classic. However, the one critique of the game was its lack of representation and its appropriation of culture.
Gamers have the option to wear chosen “skins,” and players can perform moves and dances and enjoy music that was highly popularized by Black creatives and artists. The problem? Some of the creative work was not properly credited.
Now, the tides have changed with the gaming company as it seems to be more intentional with its efforts to ensure the Fortnite world is more diverse and inclusive.
Wu-Tang Is For The Children
Recently, Fortnite announced a partnership with legendary Hip-Hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Players can now choose two iconic outfits (Throwback BG and B.R.I.T.E) and matching accessories in the Fortnite Item Shop. Other items that are available are the Wu-Tang is Forever Emote, the Shimmy Surfer Glider, and Wu Wrap.
“We have been in conversation with Epic for over a year and a half now. When I realized my son could buy different skins, I thought it would be crazy if he could put on a Wu shirt. So, when the conversations began, it became [for me] a natural progression of the Wu legacy,” RZA, a member of the Grammy-nominated group, told AfroTech.
While the partnership with Fortnite is new, Wu-Tang is not new to the video game world. In the late 90s, the rap group had a partnership with Activision for their game, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style. They’ve also done voice-over work and have avatars in other video games. The current collaboration with Fortnite builds on this legacy of exposing the Wu brand to a broader audience.
“I think this is a great opportunity to expose the Wu to those who have not heard of us and to the younger generation. ODB said it best ‘Wu-Tang is for the children.’ That is something we stand by, and we believe that W is a right of passage. The Wu-Tang is a guidebook for how you pass through life, and we feel this is a beautiful way to introduce people to the Wu way,” RZA explained.
The Wu is Universal
Beyond expanding their brand recognition to current and future generations, the Wu-Tang Fortnite collaboration is an opportunity to help show authenticity in representation and bring unity to people.
“The ‘U’ in Wu-Tang is universal. The ‘U’ not only stands for universal, but it also stands for unity. It’s unifying culture. It’s unifying races, gender, and age brackets,” RZA told AfroTech.
RZA also admitted that his son’s infatuation piqued his interest in the game. It was a good way for them to connect and talk about real-world situations. He saw the practical applications as having a positive impact.
“Collaboration with brands that have aspirations to inspire young minds can work together to increase and multiply that aspiration,” RZA said in regards to the partnership.
While it cannot be confirmed, RZA did say that people can expect some Wu-Tang musical vibes in the game. To him, the perfect song from the group for the game could be “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’.”
On the other hand, RZA pointed out that the Hip-Hop group’s first single could also be a song of choice if included in the game.
“The Wu-Tang’s first song is called, ‘Protect Your Neck.’ As you walk through this world or the Fortnite game, protect your neck,” RZA noted.