PREVIEW GHOSTFACE KILLAH 9th May Stylus Leeds UniversityThe legendary Wu-Tang Clan member is coming to town. Rhyme and Reason members can take advantage of an exclusive discount on the ticket price courtesy of our friends at Elements, at £12 (non-member rates £18). Here’s a few reasons why you should be there.

There is a small number of hip hop albums that – whether or not you personally rate them as “the best” – had an undeniable impact on the genre, stretching or shifting the edges of possibility. Surely 93’s Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers deserves a place on that list. At the time of release, hip hop was dominated by the expansive (and expensive) g-funk productions emanating from the cash rich studios of Dre and others on the West Coast. The Wu-Tang had little cash in the bank, but they did have RZA’s gritty production, self-belief, and strength in numbers. All 9 members of the clan added an additional layer to the album that signalled the resurgence of a harder, sparser, East Coast sound. It might not have been the best hip hop album of all time, or even the best Wu-Tang album, but it signalled the start of something new and paved the way for a generation of New York artists. And it introduced Dennis Coles aka Ghostface Killah (aka Ironman, aka Tony Starks) to the world.

Later, RZA would go on to suggest that the verse he contributed on 97’s Impossible secured Ghostface Killah the title of the best MC in the clan.

Impossible (from Wu-Tang Forever)

His solo career has definitely been one of the most successful, to be sure. His debut solo release Ironman was a classic, but the follow up Supreme Clientele is probably more significant, as he switched to the more abstract, free associating style of rhyming that persists to this day marking him (alongside collaborator MF Doom) as one of the few lyricists with a style that’s unique and totally unmistakeable (even if it’s often wholly incomprehensible).

Mighty Healthy (from Supreme Clientele)

He may have embraced the Nation of Islam (his faith is increasingly important to him) and got himself sober, but he has never lost his edge. Ghostface Killah is big-hearted enough to have endorsed the (very funny) impersonator who blogs under the pseudonym Big Ghostfase but you’d have to be a fool to mess with him. One such fool is Martin Shkreli, the billionaire drug baron famed for his amoral profiteering from death and disease, who was revealed as the buyer of the only copy of the Wu-Tang’s Once Upon A Time in Shaolin and was then dumb and young enough to attempt to enter a diss war with Ghostface. Suffice to say he was kicked back down into place (with the help of Ghostface’s family – his mother is fierce!)

The Wu-Tang have recorded and toured in fits and starts from the get go but Ghostface has expanded his horizons to innovate and reinvigorate his sound – check, for example, the collaboration with producer Adrian Younge on Twelve Reasons to Die or last year’s experimental Sour Soul with Badbadnotgood.

Ray Gun (ft. MF Doom) (from Sour Soul)

There’s plenty of Golden Era artists endlessly touring to celebrate anniversaries of their golden era past, but that isn’t what we’ll get from Ghostface Killah’s live show because he’s never ceased to develop and change. Miss it at your peril.


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