Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang was initially planned to be a Wu-Tang Clan group album, without production from the de-facto leader of the group, RZA. Raekwon later revealed that it would instead be his fifth studio album, again without any contributions from RZA. In regards to this decision, Raekwon clarified in an interview with Vibe magazine: "RZA doesn't have to be on every album. I wanted to give some other producers a chance. It's not about beef."
Shaolin is the street name in rap circles of Staten Island, the New York City borough that Raekwon hails from. He explained the album title to Entertainment Weekly: "It's not nothing derogatory towards Wu. It's just that Shaolin is the place, Wu-Tang is the crew that came from that place. It's like me just going back to my history of being an emcee first, before I actually became part of Wu-Tang. I always give RZA that support as far as saying he brought Wu-Tang to the table. It was his philosophy. He picked certain dudes to be part of this group, and he said, 'This is what it's going to be called'. Before that, I was on the block. I was living in Shaolin. So this album just shows the street side of me, challenging the great side of Wu-Tang. Which is almost like how T.I. did T.I. vs. T.I.P.."
The album was inspired by the 1981 Gordon Liu film Shaolin and Wu Tang, about a rivalry between two schools of ancient martial arts. "[The film is about] basically two schools fighting with one another," Raekwon explained to MTV News. "But they all come from the same school, and it was an outsider who actually tried to get the Shaolin style and the Wu-Tang style and have them go at one another. On this album, it's the same thing: It's two schools and, you know, I'm part of that school. I'm Shaolin but at the same time, I'm Wu-Tang. So really, it's ego versus discipline, dealing in my mind and everything that I been through, and dealing with the crew."
This song is the title track and first official single from the album. It was released on January 11, 2011.