GZA is often cast as the Wu-Tang Clan’s battle-scarred intellectual, older and wiser than his eight charismatic partners in rhyme. Intricate metaphors and polished wordplay earned him the alias “The Genius,” but he wouldn’t seem half as smart if he didn’t know his way around a gritty, head-knocking beat. His sold-out show at the Paradise a week ago Tuesday was an object lesson in the latter science, with an army of loyal hands in the air for evidence.
DJ Muggs got the room loose with an opening set of stoned classics from his days in Cypress Hill, from “I Wanna Get High” to “Hits from the Bong.” Pungent smoke billowed from the crowd, which hardly noticed when security ejected a possible culprit. “Throw the weed up, fuck the police!”, GZA ad-libbed later, midway through his own ominously bumping performance. Moseying back and forth with rising passion, he dealt out the deadliest verses from his Wu-Tang and solo efforts, including a few from Grandmasters (Angeles), his recent chess-themed collaboration with Muggs. As he put it after one song, “I don’t really rhyme off the head, but I write some powerful shit.” Preserved on vinyl, the blissfully belligerent chorus of “Crash Your Crew” brought back fellow Clansman Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who died in 2004. A few songs later, GZA gave his fallen cousin a fitting eulogy, swigging from a wine bottle as he rapped through ODB’s bacchanalian life story. Before leaving the stage, he shouted out forthcoming albums by Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and the entire Clan, who haven’t united for a full-length since 2001’s Iron Flag: “I think it’s way overdue, right?” Right.
: Live Reviews
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