Hip-hop legends celebrate 25 years with show in Cleveland
I have to be honest.
I’m not feeling my usual peppy, wordsmithy self today. In the latest staff “shakeup,” I lost my favorite editor/boss/co-worker/friend and everything kind of sucks right now.
Nevertheless, music-related stuff is still happening. Some of it may even be stuff you want to do, so I’m going to tell you about some of the said music stuff. As the song says, “You got to keep on keepin’ on.” So, on I will keep.
Re-Enter the '36 Chambers'
Coming from a very different musical, spiritual and perhaps even terrestrial plane, also known as New York/New Jersey, The Wu-Tang Clan are performing at the Agora on Sunday evening.
Late Wu-member and crowd favorite Ol’ Dirty Bastard once told the world that “Wu-Tang is for the children.” Of course, that was a few decades ago, so all of those children are now adults, many of whom have their own children for whom The Wu may not be.
But for us old heads, the iconic group of New York/New Jersey roughnecks, masterminded by Staten Island producer/rapper/director/actor/author RZA, are highly influential icons of '90s hip-hop.
Their debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” is a bonafide hip-hop and pop music classic, and the collective’s many, many affiliates, groups, sub-labels and successful clothing line all paved the way for many a hip-hop collective to diversify their assets.
The group’s mix of reality-driven street rap along with their unique slang, underlying cosmic themes and mythology (much too Byzantine and bizarre to detail here), made them stand out immediately among all the other Timberland-wearing, camo-adorned, New York area hard-knocks.
With RZA’s signature production style, which included sampling clips from Kung Fu movies, spooky string samples, pitch- and tempo-manipulated soul record samples (yes, BEFORE Kanye West), simple but effective piano loops and hard East Coast beats, they created one of the defining sounds of '90s East Coast hip-hop.
The Clan hasn’t released an album since 2015’s “Once Upon A Time In Shaolin,” the double album and “art object” featuring Jersey emcee Redman, some soccer players and Cher.
However, the album is probably best known as the most expensive album ever sold. For those that don’t keep up with Wu-News: There was one copy of the album printed with a leather-bound book of liner notes, which was then placed in a silver box emblazoned with jewels and sealed with wax.
That lone copy was put up for auction and purchased by infamous “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli for $2 million. He was, of course, convicted of fraud in 2018, had his assets frozen and now “Once Upon A Time in Shaolin" is probably sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
Anyway, The Wu is on a victory lap tour still celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album and the tour is featuring the eight living members everyone wants to see, and who will eventually be inducted into the rock hall: RZA, GZA, Raekwon, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, Master Killa and U-God, plus satellite Wu-Cats Cappadonna and DJ Mathematics, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s kid — dubbed Young Dirty Bastard, of course.
They’re performing the entire album plus some other hits, so it should be a fun throwback night for folks who remember the '90s, and a rare chance for young hip-hop heads who appreciate those that came before.
Here is some good news. PorchRokr 2019, the Highland Square music and art fest, will happen on Aug. 17 and will be contained within Edgerton Avenue, Aqueduct Street and West Market Street.
The festival has grown seemingly exponentially in the past few years and the fact that nearly every year manages to be both rainy and sweltering hasn’t deterred folks from gathering by the thousands and checking out our local — and increasingly regional — music troops jam on folk's porches.
While I still say the PorchRokr anchored at Will Christy Park (aka my neighborhood) a few years ago was the most awesome-est, I always have a good, though often wet and sweaty time, and eat something interesting. For anyone who wants to play a porch, be a host porch or a vendor during PorchRokr, you have until Saturday to apply at highlandsquareakron.org
Malcolm X Abram can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3758. Like him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml, and follow him on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.