The Wu-Tang Clan is back. Fourteen months after founding member O.D.B. fatally overdosed on cocaine and painkillers, the surviving eight members of the pioneering hip-hop group are touring again.
"It's going to be different in a sense," group member GZA said in a telephone interview just before the tour kicked off Tuesday in New Haven. "He isn't going to be there physically, but spiritually and mentally he still will be there." The New York rap collective, formed in 1992, revolutionized the hip-hop industry in the 1990s with its raw lyricism and business approach. Designed to take over the record industry, the group branched off to do solo projects following the major success of their debut album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)."
O.D.B., also known as Ol' Dirty Bastard, was a few days from turning 36 when he overdosed at a Manhattan recording studio in November 2004.
The group had not performed since then until starting its East Coast tour, which ends Feb. 19 in Orlando, Fla. Some proceeds will be donated to the deceased rapper's family.
"He'll be in our hearts and he'll be in the hearts of the crowd. It'll be great. It'll be a great tribute," GZA said. Though it's been more than a decade since "Enter the Wu-Tang" debuted with its references to kung-fu movies and Chinese folklore, GZA said the group's energy hasn't waned.
Wu-Tang is working on a new album and a documentary using film collected on tours and during time spent living in a California mansion, GZA said.
"It's just Wu-Tang, raw and uncut -- the most intimate moments," GZA said.
Despite internal feuds over the past 13 years, GZA said the group dynamic hasn't changed.
"It feels good to come together," he said. "It feels good to be around my brothers, regardless of whatever we go through."