Wu-Tang Clan brings the ruckus to Chicago on Rebirth Tour

Ben Levine

After 19 long years, the Wu-Tang Clan is still alive and well. On Jan. 8 massive lines wrapped around both sides of the Congress Theater in Chicago with people all coming to pay their respects to the legendary Staten Island hip-hop group.
Que Billah and Shocking Truth was the first band to take the stage. Equipped with a full live band and a host of different MCs, this group played while many people were still trickling in from outside. The entertaining hour-long set blended elements of hip-hop and rock that set a good tone for the rest of the night.
Chicago born artist Rhymefest came on next, putting on an energetic show with a political twist. He opened his set with a cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” which was initially intriguing, but ultimately fell a bit flat. The show picked up, though, as he got into some of his own material.
While I did enjoy the performance, it seemed that Rhymefest was in the midst of searching for his identity in general. His latest release, “El Che,” is his first album in four years and it was clear that many people in the crowd were getting re-acquainted with an artist they haven’t seen or heard in a while.
Rhymefest finished his set promoting his campaign for alderman proudly stating that hip-hop music should be a political force. All in all, the set was fun, but I think his live act still has a long way to go.
After two artists, the crowd began chanting for the Wu to come on stage, but instead, LA the Darkman came out with himself and a DJ. LA was clad in baggy clothes with sunglasses and hood and went full-steam ahead with his grandiose gangster anthems.
This Wu affiliate had solid tracks and flowed well, but ultimately his stage presence was a little lacking. He would have benefited from having a couple more people onstage to amp up the energy. Bringing out a couple of Wu members for a performance would have also helped with the energy problem – but this was not to be.
The Wu-Tang Clan came on at 11:30 to a sold-out crowd holding up their W signs. The whole crew, with the exception of RZA and Raekwon who were not at the show, gathered round each other and got right into rhyming. They opened with “Bring Da Ruckus” and pulled the crowd right in. Everyone from the floor to the balcony was nodding their heads and having a great time.
The group went through a host of classics including “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit,” and “Triumph.” As a group, the Wu-Tang Clan has a certain way of playing off each other and pointing the spotlight to the MC rhyming. It’s a silent competition onstage between the oldest of friends and collaborators that gives off an incredible vibe.
Many of the individual members solo recordings were highlighted, such as GZA’s “Liquid Swords,” Raekwon’s “Ice Cream” and Method Man’s “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man.” While the Wu has had their problems in the past, it’s clear that they have no problem sharing a stage and celebrating each other.
During the show, the members paid tribute to the deceased Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The members exclaimed that they were not mourning his death, but celebrating his life. With that assertion, ODB’s son was brought out on stage. He ripped into a cover of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” that got the crowd excited. His son handled himself well onstage and did his father justice.
As the show came to a close, some person in the balcony sprayed a fire extinguisher over the crowd. The Wu-Tang clan verbally reamed them and announced that this was unplanned. This left an awkward air at the end, and as the crowd began to exit, a series of fights began to break out inside the venue. Luckily, the situation was kept under control, but it was a sure sign of the “ruckus” being brought.
The show was long, intense, exciting, and fun. The Wu-Tang Clan has shown time and time again that they are a powerful force in hip-hop and this show was testament to their status as one of the finest hip-hop groups in the world.