The line between true events and fictional embellishment is faint here, but it is clear that An American Saga is informed by the real lives of the Wu-Tang members. It has been documented that Raekwon and Ghostface Killah came from opposing factions on Staten Island, but this series situates them as two young men who are actively trying to kill each other. Knowing that they ultimately join forces for the classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… doesn't detract from their intense conflict, but the mutual bloodthirst the characters have for each other feels exaggerated. Murderous discord is a towering obstacle to overcome for two characters who go on to achieve an otherworldly synergy on wax. It's improbable in reality, but entertaining nevertheless.
The performances by TJ Atoms as an enthralling Ol' Dirty Bastard and Dave East as a cool but menacing Method Man are standouts for An American Saga, and Shameik Moore's work as Shallah Raewon the Chef is phenomenal. If he hasn't yet been knighted as Hollywood's Hip-Hop representative, someone needs to make that happen ASAP. His on-screen performance of "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber" is an impressively close recreation of Raekwon's verse, and the fact that his namesake is mentioned on the song's original recording makes the scene even cooler.
Just as Beyonce was able to channel Etta James in Cadillac Records, the cast truly embodies their Wu-Tang counterparts. Joey Badass as Inspectah Deck and many other familiar faces, from Power's Marcus Callender to If Beale Street Could Talk's Ebony Obsidian, fill out the remainder of the ensemble. When any of them are on screen, the actors' own celebrity and personality never overshadow their characters, whether they are performing rap standards or delivering convincing back-and-forths with other characters. Atoms nails the signature spitty lisp from constantly rocking golds and hilariously roasts RZA after a particularly cringey a capella rendition of "See the Joy" (which, on its surface, is a song about sperm), making for a performance that feels so ODB. Each member of Wu-Tang was a distinct individual with their own goals, motives and style, and An American Saga successfully paints them as such, reinforcing how impressive of a feat it was for those nine young men to unify and make history.