Wu-Tang Clan

Published on September 15th, 2022

“The RZA, the GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck …” It’s not too farfetched that if you start that chant in public, total strangers will know what you’re up to and add to the list: U-God, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Raekwon, Masta Killa and Cappadonna.

The story of Wu-Tang Clan, Staten Island icons, is very much “an American saga,” to quote the Hulu bio-series about hip-hop’s greatest group. Long before they sold a secret album to a crooked “Pharma Bro” for seven figures, they were three cousins in late ’80s, hard-knock New York calling themselves All in Together Now — the forerunners of the Wu.

The founding trio of Robert Diggs (RZA), Gary Grice (GZA) and Russell Jones (Ol’ Dirty Bastard, aka ODB) grew their roster and took a group name inspired by a Hong Kong martial arts movie. They flashed brilliance right away with the breakout tracks “Protect Ya Neck” and “Method Man” (the latter featuring name checks), from their 1993 debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” Their iconic 1994 single, “C.R.E.A.M.,” burned a loop into our audio consciousness: that mystical braid of drum and piano sampled from the Charmels’ 1967 song “As Long as I’ve Got You.”

Wu-Tang splinter groups, side projects and solo careers proliferated. But “Triumph,” the all-MC jam opening their 1997 sophomore album, “Wu-Tang Forever,” confirmed the unbreakable symbiotic power of these artists as a collective through all the detours. ODB’s untimely death in 2004 brought Cappadonna officially into a revised fold of nine or perhaps an esoteric ten (Wu-heads are still debating).

Their new tour mate, Nas, emerged in Brooklyn from the same well of artistry feeding the boroughs in the late ’80s and early ’90s. His lyrical dexterity is legend, cemented in his 1994 debut album, “Illmatic,” and celebrated in an “NY State of Mind” tour that takes its name from “Illmatic’s” second track — like C.R.E.A.M., another of hip-hop’s greatest.

Wu-Tang Clan and Nas perform 8pm Tuesday Sept. 20 at iTHINK Financial Amphitheater in West Palm Beach. wutangclan.com ~ Abel Folgar