As the members of the Wu-Tang Clan continue to showcase their individual talents–Method Man, GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and Raekwon have all released solo albums in the two years since the release of the epochal Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)–the notorious Long Island hip-hop collective has only gotten stronger. Regardless of who’s nominally running the show, the whole crew is on hand to contribute. Ghostface Killah’s Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic Street) is the latest missive, and it might be the best yet. Behind Wu-Tang’s musical might is the one and only RZA, challenged only by Gang Starr’s DJ Premier as hip-hop’s most consistently flexible and inventive producer; on Ironman he grabs handfuls of novel soul samples and fashions a rich melange of horn charts, warm guitar undulations, and fat, slinky bass lines. Although billed as a solo album, Raekwon, Cappadonna, and Method Man also make guest appearances–Raekwon and Cappadonna are scheduled to appear at this performance–and they cover the usual Wu-Tang lyrical turf: a blend of martial-arts fantasies, street-tough testimonials, and a commitment to remembering whence they came. Indeed, the album’s strangest tune is “All That I Got Is You,” a slow jam featuring a cameo by Mary J. Blige that pays tribute to family unity during tough times. Also slated to appear are Artifacts and Common Sense. Friday, 9 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee; 312-559-1212.


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