Words by: Andrew Bruss | Images by: Chris Petersson
Wu-Tang Clan :: 01.11.08 :: The Palladium :: Worcester, MA
A crowd draped in Wu-Wear and fogged in a haze of blunt smoke greeted the Wu-Tang Clan with a hero's welcome. As the legendary Staten Island MC collective took the stage the audience in The Palladium chanted, stomped and got their double-handed W's in the air. Although they made us wait for it, when the hip-hop Shaolin swordsmen did begin, they sliced and diced through a mean set of hardcore beats that reminded everyone in the house that Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with.
Things have been changing in the world of the Wu, and many in attendance were left wondering how these changes would affect this performance. The 2007 release 8 Diagrams featured a resuscitated Wu-Tang Clan, once again produced by their de-facto leader, the RZA, with results that have supposedly brewed inner-Clan feuding. Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah have both expressed distaste with the new direction RZA took on the album, and even publicly accused him of making a "hippie-hop" album. U-God is currently suing the group's label, Wu Music Group, over accusations of "failure and/or refusal to fulfill its financial payment obligations." All the while, rumors abound that Ghostface is harboring serious resentment about 8 Diagrams being released in such close proximity to his newest solo effort, The Big Doe Rehab.
With all the purported beef, it wasn't hard to imagine a less-than-enthusiastic performance that lacked multiple members. But, when the group took the stage, they tore into a balls-to-the-wall take of "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothin' To Fuck With" that proved skeptics dead wrong.
Noticeably absent from the stage was the RZA, aka Robert Diggs, the visionary mastermind behind the group's multifaceted business model. Inspectah Deck later told JamBase that the RZA has been absent from recent tour dates due to a scheduling conflict related to a film he is currently scoring. However, with more rhymes in the opening track than any of his Clansmen, the RZA's absence was felt early on.
Wu-Tang kept things moving without a single moment of peace or quiet due to the large size of the group, currently eight guys deep since the 2004 death of Ol' Dirty Bastard. With RZA out for the evening, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, and Method Man shared frontman responsibilities. Each and every member of the group did their fair share of rapping but as the Clan worked through hip-hop classics like "C.R.E.A.M.," "Bring Da Ruckus" and their first single, "Protect Ya Neck," it was perfectly clear which members were really at the helm.
| Wu-Tang Clan :: 01.11.08|
Method Man, by far the most charismatic performer in the group, made his presence known by regularly diving past the security barrier to crowd surf, sometimes literally walking across the audience. Later on during his theme song, he made sure to remind everyone in the house who RZA bred to be the group's mainstream breakout.
Ghostface Killah provided the best rhymes of the night, and displayed a very visible appreciation for fans that showed up with promotional posters for his new solo album. The GZA laid low for the most part. But, like a warrior assessing the battlefield, he periodically broke from his backburner status to ignite a series of powerful, hard-hitting rhymes.
The performance was short, less than 90 minutes, and given the fact that the group took the stage nearly two hours late, many might have been disappointed. But, judging by the expressions on their fans' faces, the set couldn't have been more rewarding. With Wu-Tang, you take what you can get. Sure, the RZA didn't make it and material from 8 Diagrams was noticeably absent, but the other seven members gave powerful performances, with almost every Wu-Tang classic sounding as good as ever. Yet again, the Wu proved why they're nothing to fuck with.
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