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Monday, Jan. 9, 2012

Wu-Tang Clan @ The Rave

Jan. 6, 2012

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From Beliebers to Deadheads and beyond, plenty of musicians have devoted followers who are willing to let their enthusiasm become part of their very identity, but few fanbases are as diverse, or as diehard, as the Wu Nation. After all, the nine-piece Long Island crew and their acolytes have earned that constituency by continually delivering results, both as a cohesive unit and as solo artists, on more classics of than any other group in rap. Like any population, residents of the Wu Nation are a proud and hard-working people, asking little from life beyond honor, self-determination and the right to protect one's neck, and they turned out in full force for tonight's show.

There was a curious feeling emanating from the crowd that exuded excitement and anticipation, but in a cool and collected way that spoke to the fact that there really wasn't any question of whether or not the show was going to be any good, since the combined force of the Wu-Tang Clan, minus the dearly departed Ol' Dirty Bastard of course, is almost guaranteed to bowl you over. Just in terms of sheer physical space, the Clan is an imposing presence, which only swells when you throw in quasi-official members like U-God and Cappadonna, and as they swarmed the stage, it was immediately clear that the fan's allegiance is well warranted.

But while they did an admirable job of matching each other's energy, the high bar for which was set by the ever-animated Method Man, the power they gain by coming together was tempered somewhat by a lack of definition. The Rave's trademark muddy sound definitely contributed to the problem, but it's also a byproduct of rap performance, where lines are often punctuated by a chorus of other voices, lending a kind of sing-along element to flows that, on record, perfectly encapsulated the outsized personality of one individual MC or another. Yet while focus and clarity were subsumed under the weight of the collective, the remaining broad strokes were more than enough to get the diverse set of songs across, especially the timeless 36 Chambers-era stompers. Their live solo outings may give you a better chance to appreciate their respective talents, but like America itself, the Wu Nation are also capable of great things when they stand together.

Photo by
Adam Miszewski