POP MUSIC / On Pop

House of Pain, Coolio, Jeru Damaja, Cypress Hill, Gang Starr, Ice Cube. . .phew. A Stateside rap deluge hit the UK in August. Next in line is Gravediggaz and, this week, New York's finest rough stuff, Wu Tang Clan (right). Listen to the group's current albums, including the stripped-down, frenzied Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) (RCA) and you might detect a lifestyle theme: bullet-dodging, woman-shagging, street hustling and so on. But these are simply catch-all phrases, rather like 'gangsta rap, and there's more to it than that, as Genius, one of the nine-strong Wu Tang Clan, explains.

'Our music is not 'gangsta rap'. There's no such thing,' he insists down the phone from New York, as his children raise hell in the background. 'The label was created by the media to limit what we can say. We just deliver the truth in a brutal fashion.'

To Genius (given that name by another of the Clan, known as Dirty Old Bastard), most criticisms about rap's fixation with women and violence distract the public's attention from seriously examining the experiences rappers describe. 'The young black male is a target,' he says. 'Snoop (Doggy Dogg) has gone four times platinum and makes more money than the president. They don't like that, so you hear 'ban this, ban that'.

'We attack people's emotions. It's a real live show that brings out the inside in people,' Genius promises. Like I said, intense.

Wu Tang Clan plays The Forum, 9-17 Highgate Rd NW5, 1 and 2 Sept (071-284 2200) pounds 13.50.

(Photograph omitted)

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