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Unofficially considered the southern representatives of Wu-Tang Clan, Wu-Syndicate wasn't always associated with the legendary New York crew. In fact, Joe Mafia, Myalansky, and Napoleon were originally known as the Crime Syndicate, a Mafia-themed group who formed in Virginia Beach at the beginning of the '90s. They became friends with Wu-Tang Clan soon after, when both were signed to the independent Slot Time Records. When Wu came to visit the label's headquarters in Virginia Beach, the two crews got along well and promised that they would support one another if either crew got leverage in the industry. The Wu had no idea they were so close to mainstream success, but within a few years they had built a huge fan base with their gritty, kung fu-themed hip-hop. When they started their own label in the late '90s, one of the first acts they contacted was the Crime Syndicate. Their "Where Was Heaven" track was included on The Swarm compilation, but not without changing their name to the Wu-Syndicate. The name change wasn't an issue since the group needed the publicity, and the label equally benefited from their marketable gangster image. Wu-Syndicate's eponymous debut was released in 1999, but despite a good reception from Wu-Tang Clan's audience, the album was overshadowed by the stream of releases coming out on their collective. When money began disappearing, the group peacefully disassociated from the Wu-Tang Clan before the situation became too heated. Myerlansky, and Napoleon both ended up going to prison soon after, so they spent the next few years waiting out their sentences, promising that they would return as a trio when all three could get back together again. ~ Bradley Torreano
Virginia Beach, VA