March 7, 2006
From the article:
When GZA and DJ Muggs entered the WERS studio to adoring attentions from longtime fans at the station, these disciples were disappointed to find that the gods they had worshiped from afar were, in fact, human. Off the bus shuffled GZA, Muggs, DJ Kahlil and Chace Infinite of the duo Self Scientific, (with whom DJ Muggs shares a label, Angeles Records), and their renaissance man-assistant, Dave. By the time the crew trundled into the studio late Tuesday afternoon, they were slumping under the weight of a tour almost done. Dingy venues, inconsistent lodgings and food, touchy bus drivers, and drunken fans had all taken their toll on the group. The previous night’s concert in Northampton had been trying: no food provided by the venue, or security for that matter, as intoxicated high school students had attempted to make off with the band’s equipment. Today, a hungry and demoralized group stopped off for a real meal, only to find that the delay would force a battle with the twin demons of Boston: rush hour traffic and parking. Tonight’s show would be the second to last, today’s events the preamble not to an action-packed tour, but a slow descent into sunny L.A. “Everyone’s just ready to be home and in their own beds,” Dave said as we handed out coffee and chai to the weary musicians.
There is a danger in coming face to face with your fantasies. This image of tired and ornery rap stars was the one I carried away from WERS after meeting these two men, men who had made an enormous mark on the early 90s. The photographer for the WERS event at the Paradise Rock Club, my good friend Miriam, who is 27, remembered listening to their music as a high schooler dangling on the verge of dropping out, who moved out of her house at 17, lived with a DJ and sold a little weed. The Wu-Tang told her story then. She is of course different now, a college student and an excellent and sober reporter as well as a photographer, but the imprint GZA's music made on her youth put a squeal in her voice when I tell her about this assignment. To her, GZA was an artist, a literal "genius" as his alter ego suggested. To her, GZA was a legend of the caliber his Asian-fight-flick group name suggested. Moreover, his music suggested to Miriam, I suspected, a validation of what she had been through, but the person who created it had, like her, grown up and grown old. Many of the people in the studio who had also worshiped GZA and Muggs were not willing to accept that their heroes had become cantankerous and old, suspicious and cynical, rough-mannered from years of yes-men and tired by the touring schedules they had once embraced, as the younger proteges they trailed behind them were doing now. I hate to say it, but they really did look very much like they probably did around age eight, when some insensitive smartass or slip in the parental cherade had told them Santa Claus was not real. I wrote this piece for my friends in the studio, who, as grown-up radio folk dealing in personalities and fame every day, "get to" experience as part of their jobs the high-altitude feeling of coming face to face with their fantasies. And who, as grown-up radio folk, have learned to keep working and smiling even as those fantasies fall away, as they always do, one by one.