GZA with 9TH UNO and DJ LINX at the Sound Academy (11 Polson), Friday (February 8), doors at 8 pm. 19+. $20. 416-870-8000. Rating: NNNNN
There’s a big difference between irrelevant, unimportant and underrated. The Rolling Stones may be irrelevant to the future of rock and roll, but their accomplishments will always be important and their influence on rock music can never be underrated.
Paralleling this to hiphop, if some Superman-cape-wearing Soulja Boy fan wants to claim Wu-Tang Clan is irrelevant in 08 because 8 Diagrams (Street/Universal Motown) didn’t have “huge first-week Soundscan numbers” or there’s no video incessantly assaulting your eyeballs, just pat him or her on their information-deficient little head and go back to listening to I Can’t Go To Sleep on your iPod.
That song is fitting, since the modern music industry has put the kids to bed by treating them like sheep, feeding them ringtones and one-hit-wonder rap-dance tracks while eschewing the full-length album as an artistic concept.
While memories are shorter than a Redman sobriety pledge, don’t forget there’d be none of that without innovators like the Wu-Tang Clan. These nine Staten Island MCs brought a lot of motherfucking ruckus since 1993, for better or worse.
Best moment: Providing sound financial advice to a lily-whitebread suburban couple on the Dave Chappelle Show. “Smith and Barney? Bunch of old farts. You gotta know how to jack this shit. In, out, get, grab, bong!” We love you, Rakeem.
Worst: Raekwon accused him of being a “hiphop hippie” for bringing live instruments to the 8 Diagrams recording sessions, and Ghostface Killah charged him with conducting bad business soon after. Can it be that spreading the C.R.E.A.M. around was all so simple in 1993?
Best: Who expected the stoic chess master to blurt out, “You need to diversify your bonds, nigga! Protect yo’ goddam neck!” on the Wu-Tang Financial skit? Hilarious.
Worst: A YouTube clip shows him complaining to an audience in Europe about 50 Cent and Soulja Boy. As if anything they create will be “so deep it’s picked up on radios in tunnels.”
Old Dirty Bastard
Best: Interrupted the 1998 Grammy Awards to declare, “Wu-Tang is for the children. Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best.” Unscripted pop culture hilarity at its finest.
Worst: Died of an overdose of Tramadol and cocaine on November 13, 2004, at 36 Chambers Studios in New York City. Nap in peace, Dirt McGirt.
Best: Opened both Protect Ya Neck (“I smoke on the mic like Smokin’ Joe Frazier / the Lone Ranger / Code Red: danger!”) and Triumph (“I bomb atomically / Socrates philosophies and high prophecies / can’t define how I be droppin’ these mockeries…”) with classic verses.
Worst: Delayed his solid 1999 Loud Records debut, Uncontrolled Substance, so long it woefully underperformed. Gotta strike when the iron is hot.
Raekwon the Chef
Best: Co-created the East Coast gangsta rap template with the 1995 classic Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, the blueprint for numerous still-existing trends in hiphop music.
Worst: Publicly displayed family conflict when interviewed in November 2007. Now allegedly masterminding a RZA-less Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang album.
Best: Got softer thanCamay for his boo on Wu-Tang Forever’s Black Shampoo.
Worst: In January 2008, Golden Arms filed a lawsuit suing Wu-Tang Music Group for $170,000. Bizarre indeed.
Best: There’s so much to choose from, but Ghostface’s legendary Hercules-humbling eagle bracelet was surely one of the most amazing pieces of jewellery ever seen in hiphop, and that’s saying a lot. Have you seen Pharrell’s egregious BBC pieces?
Worst: Did you ever hear Shyheim spit: “I’m from the Empire State / where Ghostface retired Ma$e”? Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin’ Ta Fuck With is not just a song title, people.
Best: His PETA advertisement: “Go Veg For Life!” says a man named Masta Killa.
Worst: Secretly one of the best Wu-Tang albums of the new millennium, No Said Date took 11 years to finally come out, then got slept on like a homeless man’s cardboard bed.
Best: Imagine the confusion at Abraham Lincoln High School at a PSA from the on-parole Ticallion Stallion telling the kids, “Don’t smoke pot.” “Method” means “marijuana”! Protect ya neck, kids.
Worst: Fighting with the mainstream media and Def Jam during the release of the great 2006 album 4:21... The Day After.