Though individual members of the Wu-Tang Clan are all still plugging away at solo careers, it’s been years since the collective was a force to be reckoned with. But last year’s excellent Supreme Clientele (Epic/Razor Sharp), the second album by Wu steady Ghostface Killah, seemed certain to resuscitate the whole enterprise. The man himself never makes much sense (c.f. the chorus of “Apollo Kids,” where he declares, “This rapping’s like ziti / Facin’ me real TV / Crash at high speeds / Strawberry kiwi”). But his rhythmic agility and the sheer spectacle of his breathless style–he piles up non sequiturs, obscure cultural references, and slang as if he’s dumping the contents of his addled brain onto the sidewalk–more than make up for his lyrical incoherence. And thanks to killer soul-packed tracks (produced by RZA or worthy cohorts) and tough cameos by most of the crew, including Method Man, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, GZA, and Masta Killah, the album rocks from start to finish. When the Wu got around to releasing The W (Loud) late last year, it couldn’t help but disappoint by comparison. But remove those impossible expectations and it holds up remarkably well; compare it to Raekwon’s most recent album, 1999’s Immobilarity (Loud), and it’s a fucking masterpiece. The records don’t necessarily predict the gig–at his best Raekwon’s as good as they get. But so far Ghostface Killah is the only Wu who always seems to be at his best. Saturday, July 28, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Michael Levine.