Wu-Tang's RZA talks about returning 'to that place Sheila E. was at'


Monday, Dec. 15
First Avenue Mainroom
8 p.m. / 18+ / $35

I first saw the Wu-Tang Clan in 1998, at a weird warehouse style rave in downtown Detroit. It was during a brief phase when rave promoters discovered that they could get a lot more kids to come out if they threw a couple of hip-hop headliners on the bill. The Wu was acutely aware of this strange scene, spending much time onstage shouting out to "all the little white girls" and hollering for people to give them "some of that X shit." What they didn't do is get through too may songs and I quickly gave up on the spectacle and went into the drum & bass room (yeah, I know)...

A decade later and the Wu still has their share of inconsistencies--particularly when it comes to getting it down on wax. And personal commitments (read: money interest) can still cause conflict at a time when legacy acts like theirs should be getting their middle-age groove right. But as anyone who has caught them live in the past year or so can testify--the Wu Tang Clan ain't nothin' ta fuck wit. There's still a few too many guys on stage, but now they know when to stand back, hold the mic at the side and let each other get their moment in the spotlight. So whether it's "Protect Ya Neck," "C.R.E.A.M." or any one of their more popular solo joints, rest assured that even if you didn't see Wu in their "prime," the Wu of 2008 is a much better show. And leave that "X shit" at home (or for a Lil' Wayne show).

Do you have a particularly great memory of Minneapolis?

Man, that whole downtown area. Y'all got clubs that go underground. You're in this tight little hallway and then all of a sudden it opens up and you got 1000 people in that motherfucker. Hold that Minneapolis or Minnesota? Minneapolis is the home of Prince, right? Last time I was there, I was at that place where Sheila E was at. Y'all got a nice downtown scene. Y'all have a freedom of partying out there, no disrespect to the city, but motherfuckers walk down the street drunker than a motherfucker down there. They definitely party out there.

With Method Man being on tour with Redman and not with Wu-Tang, what are you guys missing and how do you adjust your performances?


Meth is crazy. Nigga jump in the crowd and be all over your ass. Nigga is powerful, one of the best performers out there, actually. But i don't know, I just developed... it's not a plan, whatever I was doing. We all do our own tours, actually, so I guess the experience we picked up from that kinda shows in our group performances. 

With that said, Ghostface must've performed only three verses in LA and spent the rest of the show kinda pouting in the back...

After San Diego, Ghostface let loose. We all got solo careers and sometimes, in this climate of the business, everybody being selfish sometimes is even more healthier. Ghostface has a lot of albums, a lot of music and sometimes when we do Wu, we're doing a lot of old shit. I think that based on the situation, he was like, 'Yo, I'm not really bustin my brain like that because it's not necessary.' But i think he seen how much fun we've been having, and these last three shows, he took over. Him and Raekwon were doing songs that I've never seen them perform before...they did "The Watch." That shit had me going crazy was popping. I did notice him like that for those first few shows and I talked to him about it and he was like, 'I do my shows a certain way,' and me too, but that's part of turning it on and turning it off. I learned that from being in Hollywood, all that actors shit, with that mentality.

With these long tours, is there a rotation among the Wu, about who steps up and when?

I think that naturally happens because in Vegas, I fell back. After going hard in San Diego and in LA, in Vegas, i was like, 'I'll fall back tonight.' I didn't even do the ODB tribute, I just whispered to Deck, 'Yo, you gotta do this tonight.' And I asked U-God to step it up, too. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the mic. Without trying to chastise 'em like the old days, I will still ask dudes to step up a little give a little more. And I think we're giving it, the fans be responding well.

Brandon Perkins also contributed to this article