GHOSTFACE expresses regrets about the Wu
[source: Sam's blog]This is an excerpt from the article I wrote for Urb. I thought it was going to be a cover, but I guess that Urb feels that Dipset (sans Cam'ron) would be a more interesting and popular choice.Among swirling soft purple and yellow lighting, Ghostface lopes around the stage, occasionally breaking into a clumsy dance that bears a closer resemblance to the swiveling steps of a punch-drunk boxer than it does the highly choreographed moves of your usual hip-hop or R&B star.
Unlike the South Florida Wu reunion show two months before - where every song, move and utterance seemed rehearsed to a tee - Ghostface's San Francisco show is loose and seemingly improvisational. He extols Bay Area legends Mac Dre, E-40 and Too $hort; he invites ten or so ladies onto the stage and dances with them as the DJ spins an unadorned version of the Dawn Penn's classic reggae number, "You Don't Love Me"; and he frequently stops the music to personally address the crowd. Some of it sounds rehearsed, but much of it is spontaneous.
"I'm a 1970s cat," Ghost declares to the crowd, his enormous grin chewing up the scenery. "I'm the nigga that used to listen to Marvin Gaye and The Stylistics. My Mother and Father, before they had me, used to fuck to this music. I fuck to this music. This shit is like pussy to me."
At this point, the DJ drops the first bars of "Holla," from Ghostface's 2004 album Pretty Toney. The entire song is a direct lift of the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You," and is perhaps the most soulful hip-hop song recorded this millennium. The very term "soulful" is somewhat of a critical cliche, but to watch Ghost move across the stage -- his body hunched over and his right hand held up, seemingly orchestrating the song's descending harmonies -- it's difficult to think of any other word to describe the man.
Later, he'll ask the lighting tech to turn down the lights and the crowd to observe ten seconds of silence for fallen Wu member ODB. Both oblige, and we stand in darkness and silence, remembering the charismatic emcee.
Out of the silence, the DJ drops ODB's classic, "Shimmy Shimmy Y'all," and the crowd explodes. Ghost and Trife trade off lines before fading out and letting the crowd handle the rest. It's appropriate; the song is as much the publics as it is theirs.
"What did the world lose when ODB passed?" I'd asked him earlier that evening.
"The world lost a major chess piece in hip-hop. They lost the soul of it. He would do and say things that people have never done before. He had a lot of soul."
"What did you lose personally?"
"I lost a brother. I lost a loved one. I lost a piece of my heart."
When I'd first met Ghostface nearly two months before at the Wu Tang reunion show, he'd seemed more upbeat and energetic, more optimistic not only about his own album but about the Wu's future and its past.
"Yo, (being here with the Wu) is like fucking with your crimeys again," he'd exclaimed to me. "You ever seen Usual Suspects? It's like niggas don't be doing those things for a minute, but then it's like you're back on. Wu will come back in due time. We're going take it to the next level. Niggas still love each other. It may be outta sight for a second, but it's never out of mind."
Tonight, he reveals a little more complex view of the band's past and future. His allegiance is unwavering and unquestionable, that much is clear, but that doesn’t mean it's not bittersweet.
"Do you think that a lot of troubles and turmoil that individual members of the Wu Tang Clan went through hurt you guys from a career perspective?" I ask.
"It did. A lot of the stuff we were doing then did set us back," he comments. "At Hot 97 's Summer Jam, we fucked around and cursed (the organizers) out. And on the (1997) Rage Against the Machine tour, we didn't stick with that. We made the wrong decisions -- we fucked up."
"I never thought the Wu reached its full commercial potential," I comment.
"Nah, we really didn't."
If anyone wants, I can transcribe the entire interview. You can read the entire article in the May edition of Urb.
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