There were plenty of Wu-Tang autodidacts at the show last night. This was made obvious when the dude behind me was able to make the transition from “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin to F**k Wit” to “Severe Punishment” like Prince Rakeem himself.
Actually, Bobby Digital wasn’t there, so maybe they should’ve pulled one of these obsessives out of the crowd and handed him a mike. I mean, it would’ve meant one less Cappadonna freestyle, maybe, but we would’ve gotten over it.
The show was fine: great energy at the beginning, and they played all the hits off 36 Chambers and Wu Forever, and some of the earlier classic solo albums: Liquid Swords and Only 4 Cuban Linx, but with RZA missing—their producer, their spiritual leader—some odd stage dynamics became apparent.
Now, a lot of this might be retrospective conjecture based on something somebody e-mailed me today (I can’t reveal my source or his house might get flooded with waves of bloodthirsty ninjas Kill Bill-style). Evidently, all eight of them get paid individually after the show, unlike most bands, where the drummer or the manager will settle up with the club after the show and then split it in the van. So the guys get paid separately, a true capitalist collective, and their artistic leader wasn’t there. (He didn’t really produce much of the Wu’s new album, 8 Diagrams, either. Too much time spent on that Russell Crowe movie, maybe?) Consequently, there seemed to be a lack of Shaolin discipline.
What I mean by “lack of discipline” is “Method Man went crazy.” And it felt like some of the Wu wasn’t really into it. Ghostface Killah spent much of the show slumped against the DJ stand without even holding a mike. And GZA, who, first of all, looked like the grown-up Wu-Tang member, in some sort of jeans and Members Only jacket situation, would wait until the end of his parts and then walk off stage right. Ghost and GZA are arguably The Clan’s two best MCs, and they seemed to be, not so gallantly, ceding their time to Meth.
Or maybe Meth was just grabbing the spot. I mean, the dude is a star, for certain, and watching him flip his hood over his head and use his dusted pipes to blowback “Tical” or “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” is thrilling. But he was climbing the speakers, doing backwards trust falls into the crowd, generally just acting like an ass, often right in the middle of a killer song like “Criminology.” A song, significantly, where Meth doesn’t get a verse.
At this point, it must be hard to keep the egos in this group synchronized, because it’s not like modesty is encouraged. Raekwon asked the crowd to boo him, just because, “It’s never happened to me and we wanted to know what it felt like.” Rae laughed it off after they complied and then announced, “We’re about to do another mon-u-mental classic.” Then he encouraged us to throw dolla, dolla bills on the stage, just like the crowd did in Chicago last night. It worked: the song, of course, was “C.R.E.A.M.” and Wu must have earned a couple extra hundred dollars.
I wonder how they split it.