As the members of the Wu-Tang Clan continue to showcase their individual talents--Method Man, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Raekwon have all released solo albums in the two years since the release of the epochal Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)--the notorious Long Island hip-hop collective has only gotten stronger. Regardless of who's nominally running the show, the whole crew is on hand to contribute. Ghostface Killah's Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic Street) is the latest missive, and it might be the best yet. Behind Wu-Tang's musical might is the one and only RZA, challenged only by Gang Starr's DJ Premier as hip-hop's most consistently flexible and inventive producer; on Ironman he grabs handfuls of novel soul samples and fashions a rich melange of horn charts, warm guitar undulations, and fat, slinky bass lines. Although billed as a solo album, Raekwon, Cappadonna, and Method Man also make guest appearances--Raekwon and Cappadonna are scheduled to appear at this performance--and they cover the usual Wu-Tang lyrical turf: a blend of martial-arts fantasies, street-tough testimonials, and a commitment to remembering whence they came. Indeed, the album's strangest tune is "All That I Got Is You," a slow jam featuring a cameo by Mary J. Blige that pays tribute to family unity during tough times. Also slated to appear are Artifacts and Common Sense. Friday, 9 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee; 312-559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/ Michael Lavine.