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Wu-Tang Clan acts just like a family

That means plenty of squabbling and occasional harmony in the hip-hop collective.

January 19, 2008|Glenn Gamboa | Newsday

NEW YORK -- It's a study in democracy, a tribute to the freedom of speech and, frankly, a remarkable show of honesty.

No, this isn't another story about the presidential election. It's a story about the Wu-Tang Clan.

At a time when album rollouts are as meticulously plotted as minor military battles or new car launches, Wu-Tang Clan is gloriously off-script, with members of the hip- hop collective beefing in public and some even questioning the merits of the group's latest album "8 Diagrams" (Loud/SRC).

"We've got our dysfunctional ways," said Raekwon, calling from a tour stop in Baltimore. "We're like a reality show. I'm gonna be real with you. We're not all friends right now. But these are little family things. When it comes to the tour, the tour is beautiful."

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah have been the most vocal about the group's internal battling. Ghostface even refused to move the release date of his solo album "Big Doe Rehab" last month to accommodate the rescheduled release of "8 Diagrams," resulting in the album being pushed back an additional week, deep into the holiday season.

"Some people like the record," Raekwon said. "But a lot of people don't know it even came out."

And Raekwon isn't shy about saying he worries that the album, produced by the RZA, isn't as hard-hitting as it should've been. "He's one of the best producers in the world and we put him on a pedestal," Raekwon said. "But sometimes when you look up to somebody so much, you get problems. And sometimes those problems get solidified and there's a scar."

The squabbling is all part of the unique working relationship the Wu-Tang Clan has always had. Each member -- RZA, GZA, Ghostface, Raekwon, Method Man, Masta Killa, U-God, Inspectah Deck and Cappadonna -- has his own solo career while also working for the Wu.

"We all go out and be the best we can be," Raekwon explained, "then we come back together and all become magicians on the mike."

These days, they're all getting busier than ever, especially Ghostface and his booming solo albums, Method Man and his acting on "The Wire" and RZA's move into movie soundtracks. Raekwon is prepping his new solo album "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II," the sequel to his breakthrough solo album, due out in the summer.

With all those careers to juggle, it's a victory for the Wu-Tang to gather at all for a tour. Last summer, the group got together to co-headline the Rock the Bells Tour with Rage Against the Machine.

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