Hip-hop groups come and go, some have characters, some don't, but one thing is for sure - Wu-Tang Clan and its various members have released a body of work that might be targeted as inflammatory and patchy at times, but never less than engaging.
Not so much a band as an organized syndicate of key contributors and affiliates, the Clan are probably best known for their martial-arts references, many mentions of Shaolin (the geographic reference to Staten Island, where many of the group hail from) and a controversy section on Wikipedia that reads like a thesis on 'beef'.
Most members of the Wu have issued solo albums with differing results - the late Ol' Dirty Bastard's output was eccentric and offbeat, Raekwon issued the admittedly influential "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx", while Method Man and RZA certainly didn't blemish their careers with opening solo gambits. But one Gary Grice, aka GZA or The GZA or even Genius GZA, arguably knocked out the most robust and timeless of album of all the Wu-Tang Clan.
"Liquid Swords" appeared in 1995 and while not his official debut (that was 1991's "Words from the Genius"), its heavy reliance on samples from martial arts movies and dark lyrical references ensured that it wasn't filed under 'thug rap' in record stores. It's ingenuity actually convinced enough of the US public to elevate the album into the Top 10, a big deal back in the mid '90s. 2012 sees the long-awaited sequel finally get a release. "Liquid Swords 2: The Return of the Shadowboxer" has been produced with band-member RZA and is 'tentatively' due for release early next year.
GZA himself will be promoting the new album, plus his earthy back-catalogue, with a series of shows in January, starting with Sheffield on 27th, followed by Oxford, Liverpool, Bournemouth, Islington and Birmingham (that last one is in February). We already have tickets for Bournemouth and Birmingham, while the remainder go on sale from Saturday morning at 10am. Prices range from £13.50 upwards.