When: Fri., July 24, 8 p.m. 2015
RAEKWON & GHOSTFACE KILLAH
FRIDAY, JULY 24
THE RITZ, RALEIGH—Every time they split a track, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon push one another to be better. To wit, on the new Twelve Reasons To Die II, Ghostface's follow-up to his 2013 record with producer Adrian Younge, he trumps the Chef-bereft predecessor by offering Raekwon several guest spots. Indeed, very few rap duos have ever been as dynamic as this pairing—or quite so codependent, either.
There's real magic when the Wu-Tang standouts come together; in tandem, they remain two of the most recognizable collaborators in the genre's history. In all their glittering, gold-chained glory, they stare out together from the covers of Ironman, Bulletproof Wallets and both volumes of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. They are terrifically matched on 1995's "Criminology," for instance, or 2001's "Apollo Kids," where their swapped verses feel fluid, not just natural. The meetings move beyond the competitive rivalries present in the studio, producing something bigger than either of them.
But when they're apart, things soon get sour. The Chef's sole full-length without so much as a Tony Starks ad lib, 1999's tepid Immobilarity, offered one of the first signs of the Wu's impending decline. And the less that's said about the Wu-deficient Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City, the better. Ghostface has never found anyone who can work with him so well, though he's tried. Wu Block partner Sheek Louch, also of The LOX, is little more than a Raekwon stand-in, available for Ghostface when his best bud has a scheduling conflict.
Six years have passed since Raekwon and Ghostface recorded an entire album together. That was Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, the sequel to their 1995 masterpiece, whose anniversary they're now touring to commemorate. Since nobody wants to pay for recorded music anymore, it seems only right that they would take their medicine show on the road. Unlike Method Man and Redman, whose joint efforts are more sideshow than main attraction, these two share a tremendous catalog, always capable of regaling the amassed. Nowhere else can Wu-Tang necromancy feel so good. With Dillon Cooper. 8 p.m., $25, 2820 Industrial Dr., Raleigh, 919-836-8535, www.ritzraleigh.com. —Gary Suarez