There’s a reason you don’t often hear music from the Wu-Tang Clan in many television shows. Because of the amount of samples used by RZA to create some of the group’s most beloved material, as well as the sheer number of writers used to create the songs, the effort it takes to clear them can be monumental. That’s what makes the appearance of “Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off)” in The Leftovers so surprising .
In a scene from the latest episode of the HBO series, two of the shows characters Nora and Erika are seen bouncing in slow motion on a trampoline while the lead single from 2000’s The W blasts off in the background. In an interview with Business Insider, music supervisor Liza Richardson explained how they were able to get the song into the show. “I said, ‘Famously impossible, but let’s try,'” she remembered.
After running through most of the tracks on GZA’s solo album Liquid Swords, and clearing the title track, “Living in the World Today,” and “Shadowboxin'” Richardson also grabbed “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F— Wit,” which series creator Damon Lindelof chose to use for the pivotal scene, until ultimately switching to “Protect Ya Neck.”
The Wu reference don’t stop there. It turned out that after Nora had her cast removed, that she has the group’s iconic W logo tattooed on her arm. The idea for that turn came from one of the show’s writers, Tamara Carter, who explained to Vulture how it all went down.
“The show has absolutely nothing to do with the Wu-Tang Clan, but Damon asked very specifically about ideas for tattoos and everybody came in with something cool and weird. But I’m a city girl and I was also a street kid; I was out and about.” It was her last tattoo pitch, and “I just wanted to get it out of the way. I didn’t even want to talk that day. But he just latched onto it, and I explained the philosophy. To me it represents the most absurd ideology, but also the most progressive when it comes to personal freedom and, also, pain. Nora was just in so much pain, and she carries it like a samurai. You don’t see what’s underneath much. So I was like, wow, if I were her, I would probably connect with the ideology of the Wu-Tang Clan.”