The Wu-Tang Clan’s one of those groups people are going to write books on and study in twenty years. Most likely, there’s a college course somewhere examining the mythology spread out over a recording career dating back to the early nineties. While albums like “36 Chambers” are always going to be considered a monumental step forward for hip-hop, the Clan’s nine assorted members each crafted significant solo careers. With the RZA busied by writing books and working up soundtracks for samurai cartoons, Raekwon has become the most consistent crew member, steadily releasing albums since his 1995 “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.” Taking street-level gangster tales, some contrived, some certainly gleaned in person, Raekwon’s first solo disc should rank pretty highly on any nineties-focused list one might concoct. The outrageous aspect of the guy’s career is that even the sequel to his debut, released in 2009, was a successful extension of well-worn ideas. Separated by fourteen years, both volumes of “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” sport a wealth of tough-guy stories, the latter adding in a bit of familial comedy, but not too much.
Invigorated and flush with success, Raekwon’s issued two albums since “Linx II.” At times, each sounds as if the recordings were done off the cuff, but in Wu-Tang style, the production’s always funky and filthy. At 40, the MC remains a vital performer and a link back to a time when rap became a commercial juggernaut. What happens to the Black Trump if the real Trump buys the presidency? Maybe we can find out on Thursday, but get there early to catch Chi-locals Qwel and Maker. (Dave Cantor)
May 19 at The Mid, 306 North Halsted, (312)265-3990. 9pm. $16.50.