The Wu-Tang Clan is one of most influential rap groups in history. They came onto the scene with Enter the 36 Chambers and made an immediate impact. Their sound is instantly recognizable to rap fans, loud and dissonant but somehow minimal at the same time with a lot of group vocals and martial arts references.
I have been a fan ever since I first heard Enter the 36 Chambers in college. I have liked the majority of their subsequent albums and various solo projects but there have been so many it is hard to keep up. I really enjoyed their last album 8 Diagrams; I thought it stayed true to the Wu-Tang sound but expanded on it at the same time. I have never been to a rap concert, so I was excited to see Wu-Tang as my first one.
The show was at the 9:30 Club, one of the landmark clubs in D.C. The doors opened at 7, we were in and on the floor by 7:30. There was also balcony seating but I wanted to be close to the stage. Though the doors opened at 7 the show did not start until 9:30.
Two hours of standing was not fun, but when the show did start, the crowd still had plenty of energy. The opening band was Brooklyn Zu, a Wu-affiliated rap crew. They are an Ol’ Dirty Bastard tribute band in some ways; many of the MCs are relatives of ODB. A DJ with two turntables provided the instrumentation. Their sound was very similar to Wu-Tang but their lyrics put more emphasis on the violent part of rap.
They got the crowd going well; people were jumping around to the music. All of their MCs had some good skills. One of the main MCs, Raison the Zookeeper, had a sore throat but it did not seem to affect his rapping much. One of their last songs was a tribute to ODB, and quoted a few his famous lyrics.
After Brooklyn Zu, another rap crew came on, Ice Water. They also had a very similar sound to the Wu-Tang Clan. Their lyrics were more boastful and they had a few battle style raps. They tried to get the crowd involved with call and responses and asking each side of the club to make more noise than the other. But their songs went on too long and they were not as good MCs as the Brooklyn Zu. They also tried to have one member sing a while the others rapped over him. The sound mix did not complement that very well. Many of their members were smoking when they were not rapping or talking to the DJ. They did not seem as into to it, and neither was the crowd.