The Wu-Tang Clan continue to make history nearly three decades in. Tonight, Shaolin's most-famous residents will make history as the first hip-hop act to top a bill at Nashville's high sept, the Ryman Auditorium.
Known as the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and still going by the not-at-all-exaggerated title of the "Mother Church of Country Music," the Ryman has never hosted a hip-hop headliner in over a century as a music venue. That might be due in part to the building itself, a massive 2300-person brick theater that lives up to its churchiness with bolted-down pews on the floor.
"It's just not intuitive to have necessarily a hip-hop show at the Ryman," Nashville concert promoter and Belmont University professor Eric Holt told NPR. "It's going to be interesting. I mean, the energy, I think is going to be different."
The venue's former general manager told NPR that it was reluctance on the part of artists that kept hip-hop away, saying that she reached out to both 50 Cent and the Insane Clown Posse during her stint there.
"You know, the Ryman has had to grow up too, and had to grow up into what the city is," Sanders said of the show. "You know, the Wu-Tang is ready for the Ryman, but also the Ryman is ready for the Wu-Tang."
She has a point, as evidenced by the ticket sales of the Clan's Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) anniversary show. The church might be for country music, but RZA, GZA et. al. sold it out.
Give a listen to NPR's report below.