Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with (seriously)

I had a mind-bending experience back in 2006 which involved the entire Wu-tang clan, a journalist from the Star Tribune, and a drunk ex-associate of mine who almost got the both of us killed by the world's most dangerous rap crew. It was either one of the worst or best experiences I have ever had. The date was August 11th. I had been looking forward to the Wu-tang show at First Avenue that evening for the previous couple of months, so when I got off from work that day I immediately made way just down the street to wait in line for the show, which wasn't for hours.

As I headed there on my bike, I passed right by none other than Cappadonna himself. He was on his way back from a nearby Jimmy John's with some food. I couldn't believe my eyes. I turned my bike around and rode past him, stopping at his feet. "Yo Cap, is that you?" I said. He let out a big smile and said "Yeah, what's up." I told him I was going to the show later. He asked me about the venue, whether it was inside or outside. I asked him if I could go with him to hang
out with the Clan to get some autographs. There was a write up about Wu-tang in the Star Tribune that day that I wanted to get signed.

I pulled the paper out of my back pocket and showed it to him. Cap pulled out a pen and was about to sign when I sputtered, "Hey, look what they wrote about you. It's kind of disparaging: "Cappadonna: Once a reserve member of the Clan, now lost in oblivion," I read to him. He said "Aw I can't sign that, man. Who wrote that shit?" At the bottom of the article was the name and phone number of the author of the article Tom Horgen. At my urging, Cappadonna pulled out his cell phone and dialed the number. A few moments later, he was barking into the mouthpiece: (I paraphrase here) "Yo, dude, you don't even know me son. You don't know anything. ...I am your father...we are the original man. How could you ever know about me...you live in Minnesota writing for a newspaper. You live in the black and white newspaper world.." And on like that for about 3 awesome minutes. Then after hanging up he turned to me and said "I like the way I handled that." He asked if he could keep my paper.


I said yes.

Suddenly he looked up and around and said, "Yo, this is 7th and 2nd ave..I need to figure out where I'm going...oh, there's my hotel." He was staying at the Crown Plaza. I followed his gaze and saw what must have been at least half of the Wu tang Clan taking their bags out of a truck and walking into the hotel. My idol at that time, The Rza, stood out the most, towering over the other members. I asked Cap if he thought it would be ok for me to roll over there and say hi. He said I could go try, but not to mention that he said it was ok. When I got across the street the Rza was gone so I walked inside the front doors to try to find him. Various Wu bag handlers straggled around the lobby. Ghostface was checking in at the counter. I calmly walked up to the counter and told him that I have been a fan of his for a really long time and that I was looking forward to the show later. He gave me some dap, and I walked on looking around.


I ran into Cappadonna again at the elevator and told him I would see him later. I was about to leave, but then realized I could probably get another paper at the hotel so i asked the front desk and they told me to go to the convience store, which was back through the big glass double doors. The store was closed, but Ghostface was inside getting some soda and snacks. When he finally came out I told him about the article and that I wanted to show it to him, but he just seemed interested in getting back up to his room. However he did hold the door open for me when I asked the lady if she would sell me a paper. As he was leaving, I shouted, "Hey Ghost, thanks for coming to our city!" He turned and said "Oh, no doubt, baby." The woman who ran the store did not have change for a 20 so I could not get a paper. I headed back to the venue. There was hardly anyone in line so I decided I needed a drink to calm myself down after all that. I went to the Loon bar and met D there, the aforementioned ex-associate, who was also coming to the show. My father would also be joining us later. D and I had a couple drinks before deciding to go wait in line, which was considerably longer at this point.

Cappadonna and RZA rock the stage at The First Avenue in Minneapolis

The Wu-tang put on the best show I have ever seen, to this day. They did every single hit song from their catalog as well as some other favorites. All of them showed up and graced the stage one by one. I was in the front and shook hands with almost all of them. Cappadonna recognized me and acknowledged me many times. Afterword, we waited outside along with some other fans. I saw Inspectah Deck outside. He was carrying a bottle in one hand and a cup in the other. He saw me and said whats up. It was surreal when asked me if I had seen the RZA anywhere. I said no and asked if he could sign my paper. He told me to hold on while he looked around. He walked over and said a few words to D and when Deck came back i asked him again to sign the paper and told him it would really mean a lot. He said "ok, ok" and signed it "INS the Rebel" real quick.

Inspectah Deck, earlier that night.*

D and I decided to walk down to the hotel and see if we could get some more signatures. When we got there Wu-tang were getting off of their buses. Some of them were headed inside and some hung out in the front of the hotel. After my run-in with Deck, which made me feel like a groupie, I wasn't feeling very bold. It was very difficult for me to even fathom my surroundings. But I knew I had to get some signatures, so I had D approach them for the autographs. First U-God came by and signed it, then Masta Killa, then Gza, and finally Cappadonna, who had apparently not connected the dots between that and what had happened earlier. Either that or he just said "fuck it" and let his outrage at Tom Horgen subside. He and everyone else seemed to be glowing still from the strength of the performance earlier that night. Gza and Inspectah Deck were hanging outside of the hotel, sipping on some mixed drinks and talking to some girls and some members of their entourage, who were also supervising the entire situation. Then there was D and I, in the middle of all of it. Me still on my bike. Inspectah deck cracked some jokes and seemed eager to talk, but I didn't know what to say. We just sat there just watching the scene and waiting to see who else we could meet.

Finally, one of the entourage members, a white guy that we didn't recognize, however obviously very close friend to the Wu-tang, headed into the hotel. D got his attention and waved him over. I thought for sure he was going to try to slick talk our way up stairs, where there was no doubt plent of booze, blunts and beautiful women (at least in my mind) to be pilfered. That would have been the icing on the cake. Instead, D leaned over and mumbled "hey, uh.." then all of sudden lunged toward the man and wrestled him down to the ground and started hitting him. I looked over at Inspectah Deck and Gza and they were watching in awe and disbelief. Deck's sunglasses had slid down to the end of his nose, and he was watching from the top of the lenses; a toothpick hung from his agape mouth. D ripped the chain off the guy's neck and began to run. But The White Dude grabbed his arm while Gza, Deck and another guy from the entourage ran over and started beating the holy shit out of D.

GZA the Genius, earlier that evening.

Gza looked especially pissed, and was getting in some good punches and kicks to D's head. I watched in total horror and at the same time, amusement. They got D's eye pretty good and his mouth. One of them even took my bike and was about to land it on D when i tried to stop him, mostly in the interest of preserving my most desirable m-e-t-h-o-d of transportation. They then turned to me and asked me if I was with him. "Yeah that is my boy," I said, not really sure at that moment if it was true. Then I quickly sputtered, "But I don't know what the fuck he is doing or why he did that." They let me know then that I was lucky that they didn't beat my ass too. The White Dude, who I would later learn was John, the tour manager, got right in my face and demanded that I compensate him with something valuable of mine, since my "boy" had ruined his expensive cuban link. I told him that I didn't have anything to give him, hoping he wouldn't be alerted to the fact that I had half of the Clan's signatures on paper in my pocket.

They eventually told me to get the fuck out of their presence. I rolled up to D asked him what the hell was going through his head. He said "I really wanted that chain." He seemed unapologetic and triumphant. I had noticed while he was on the ground getting punched in the face and slammed up against walls, that he had this sick grin on his face. I was mad at D for embarrasing me in front of the Wu and making them eventually turning their anger on me. But at the same time, because of him, I had front-row seats to one of the most mind-twisting things I have ever ever seen. Ever.

I wrote Gza an apology letter this morning on myspace and told him that I hoped things would be cool with us when we met again, and that I hoped that they would come back to minneapolis one day. As you can see, I got the newspaper framed, which has autographs from 5 of the 9 members (no RZA, Ghost, Raekwon, or Meth, no doubt the most illustrious members) as well as the ticket stub and an advertisement. It was an amazing night, but in a bittersweet way; perhaps it would have been more legendary had D not lost his fucking mind.

Wu-Tang Forever.

*Rebel INS photo courtesy of Bonita Applebum

UPDATE: Star Tribune columist Tom Horgen (who received the nasty voicemail from Cappadonna) has responded to this article:

Hey... Wow, that shit is crazy. Nice narrative. So your homie tried to snatch dude's chain in front of the Wu?! And I thought all that knowledge shit Cappa was trying to drop on me (about the history of black and white men) was kind of silly, SINCE I'm not white. So I kind of wish I would'a been at my desk to answer the phone.

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