By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY — Where does one even start with the indomitable hip-hop icons that are the Wu-Tang Clan? This is a group that began and sustained the careers of nine MCs, including RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB), among others. This is a group that released one of the most influential albums of all time with Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers (1993), an album that directly inspired Nas, Jay-Z, and Notorious. Their hardcore, sociopolitical hip-hop that is laden with samples is old-school and sparse in its delivery yet funky and groovy; their bloody martial-arts imagery has spilt all over their art and side-projects.
In 2015, the status of Wu-Tang is far different than it was at the onset of the 2000s. Sadly, the wildly erratic and lyrically garbling ODB passed away in 2004 following an overdose in Wu-Tang’s recording studio. In addition, the MCs have been arguing about the status of the band and direction of the music for years, as RZA’s sound dominated with his chop-style production technique. The nine MCs’ original pact to form both an artistic and financial community also ended up hurting them in the long run as they dominated and eventually oversaturated their market.
Most of the issues were eventually tentatively ironed out. 2014 saw the Wu-Tang Clan finally release A Better Tomorrow, their first studio album since 2007’s 8 Diagrams. Although the uneven album is more RZA than Wu-Tang, it has inspired the crew to play some shows as a collective. This is likely your first and only opportunity to see them in Calgary. DO NOT MISS IT.
The Wu-Tang Clan plays the Grey Eagle Casino on Saturday, September 19th. Raekwon also plays in Calgary on Saturday, September 5th during the One Love Music Festival alongside Nas.