Wu-Tang Clan

Arguably one of the most iconic songs in hip-hop, the underlying idea of “C.R.E.A.M.” is found in its title—cash rules everything. The timeless piano riffs and background vocals come from a chopped up sample of The Charmels‘ 1967 record, “As Long As I’ve Got You,” that make up the entire track.

Although it was released as an official single in 1994, “C.R.E.A.M.” was first recorded in 1991, around the same time as RZA’s assault case, and featured himself and Ghostface Killah. The track went through several revisions and was later re-recorded by Raekwon and Inspectah Deck in 1993—an early title of the song was “Lifestyles of the Mega-Rich.”

In 2017, RZA explained to Power 106 how the final version of the track came together:

Once we got to the studio, I decided that this track had to be on the Wu-Tang album. I reminded Rae and Deck of their verses—their verses were long. […] Method Man, the master of hooks at the time, came in with this hook right here: ‘cash rules everything around me, cream, get the money.’ Once he added that element, I knew it was going to be a smash.

Since its release, the song and chorus have been referenced countless times by several artists. It has also been featured in movies such as Eminem’s 8 Mile and the N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton.