Wu-Tang Clan Brings Da Ruckus to the Agora

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click to enlarge Wu-Tang Clan Brings Da Ruckus to the Agora
Emanuel Wallace
The year is 1993. A cassette is placed into a tape deck and played. After a series of beeps, a kung-fu sample plays, followed by a war cry of "Bring the muthafuckin' ruckus, bring the muthafuckin' ruckus" repeated over and over. A man begins to rap — "Ghostface, catch the blast of a hype verse/My Glock burst, leavin a hearse/I did worse."

And thus begins the Wu-Tang Clan's landmark debut album Enter The Wu-Tang, which turned 25 last year. At times it's hard to fathom that this group of nine men left such an indelible mark on hip-hop. Enter the Wu-Tang was released on the same day as A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders and just two weeks before Snoop Doggy Dogg's blockbuster debut album, Doggystyle. All three albums changed the game as we know it, but Enter the Wu-Tang had lingering effects that resonated beyond hip-hop. Almost immediately, the concept of the Wu-Tang Killer Bee began to take shape on a global scale as the swarm grew larger and larger, spreading to countries all over the world. A bit of the phenomenon was captured in the 1995 hip-hop documentary, The Show, and more recently with the Showtime series, Of Mics and Men.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of that debut album, Wu-Tang Clan has taken their show on the road and brought it to the fans who've helped to keep them relevant throughout the years. The tour came to the Agora last night.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.

There was a buzz in the air outside and black and yellow Wu-Tang shirts were in abundance along Euclid Ave., some of them with signs of the wear and tear of battle while others were newly acquired from street vendors hawking them on the corners.

Inside, the infamous Wu-Tang logo was pulsating on a video screen while classic hip-hop tunes from the '90s and 2000s were spun. The crowd was a figurative melting pot with people of all ethnicities and ages — all gathered in the name of Wu to witness something that few thought would ever happen again.

Following a trailer for a movie by Rza, the man himself walked out and was showered with cheers from an adorning audience who had been rocking the arena with random "Wu-Tang" chants all night.

Just as Enter the Wu-Tang began in 1993, the group's 2019 performance began with "Bring Da Ruckus." One by one, the members emerged from backstage to perform their verses. Ghostface Killah came out first, then Raekwon, then Inspectah Deck and finally GZA. At the song's conclusion, RZA announced that the crew would be performing the debut album in its entirety and also that all of the late Ol' Dirty Bastard's rhymes would be performed by his eldest son, Young Dirty Bastard.

Channeling the spirit of his father, the junior Dirty darted out onto stage for "Shame on a N****" in a sparkly red sportcoat and rocking his dad's trademark cornrow braids to make the look complete alongside an equally energetic Method Man who flung water out into the crowd. "Clan in Da Front" and "Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber" followed before Cappadonna performed his own "Run."

Ghostface and Raekwon have always had excellent chemistry, and it shone through on "Can it Be All So Simple."

As U-God and Masta Killa emerged from the shadows for their verses on "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'," the entire crew was finally on stage together — a feat that many, if not most — thought would ever be seen again.

The Wu has always placed an emphasis on intensity. Method Man stage dived into the audience and throughout the show RZA repeatedly asked the crowd who had just been soaked by Möet "Do you have energy?" After a resounding collective "Yes," the performance continued.

As it turned out, performing the entire Enter the Wu-Tang album was only the tip of the iceberg as the crew would go on to also perform songs from its second album, Wu-Tang Forever, as well as songs from the solo LPs of GZA, Raekwon and Method Man.

One of the show's highlights was a trifecta of Ol' Dirty Bastard hits that included "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," "Got Your Money" and "Brooklyn Zoo." Other highlights included a scratch demonstration by DJ Mathematics who showcased his skills and eventually ended up scratching records with his feet.
As if they needed to further appease the crowd, Method Man proclaimed that the Browns are going to the Super Bowl and that Baker Mayfield is the truth.

The concert concluded with "Triumph," the lead single from Wu's second album and perhaps their biggest song to date. It's the only song to feature all members of the group.

Wu-Tang Clan is a family (in fact RZA, GZA and ODB are cousins) and just like any family there may be internal issues at times, but when the group comes together, the love is there. It comes out in the music, and it came out on stage at the Agora Theatre more than 25 years after it began, and the fans are all the better for it. As it turns out, Wu-Tang actually is forever.

Performances earlier in the night came from opening acts Shanexsharp and Lazarus.

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