When we wrote on this week's cover that local slammer Suzi Q. Smith is "poetry in motion," we weren't kidding. In addition to owning one of the boldest voices in Denver's prolific poetry scene, Smith and her poet peers have also breached the world of music. In local tribute band Lady Wu-Tang, Smith performs the role of Method Man, the legendary rap collective's reluctant hearth throb and most enigmatic member. Onstage, the women are raw, rowdy and electric in their brokedown, re-imagined, all-female interpretations of the Wu-Tang Clan. Click through for videos of Smith and the seven other female emcees who celebrated their one-year anniversary as a band this January.
Formed in January 2011, the group started as a one-off project to celebrate the rap think tanks at a single show. But in the months since its inception, Lady Wu-Tang has gone on to sell out repeatedly, pen its own rhymes, perform on stage with members of Wu-Tang and push the limits of each members' interpretation of her namesake.
Each emcee was specifically selected for her individual role in the band, through a combination of personality traits and rhythmic style. "I remember right before out first show I saw Black Swan and I thought, 'That is my life right now. I'm two people at once,'" Smith says. "[Method Man] helps me tap into this raw, aggressive side of myself that I feel like is stamped out in most women."
Comprised of respected Denver poets and emcees, Lady Wu-Tang is LadySpeech Sankofa (Ghostface), Ebony "Isis Speaks" Booth (Ol' Dirty Bastard), Bianca Mikahn (Raekwon), Suzi Q. Smith (Method Man), DJ Bella Scratch (Inspectah Deck), DJ Manizer (GZA), Xencs L. Wing (RZA) and Ralonda Simmons (U-God).
In late 2011, the group called on its internal talents to write, record and shoot an original rap, "Cypher," in preparation for its Wu World order anniversary show on January 29. Watch Smith and her Denver peers take on their own material in the video below:
But when it comes to praise, none can be higher than that of Wu-Tang itself. During a surprise stint at Casselman's in January, Raekwon himself invited the band to perform with him -- and then close down the entire night. The following day, the women were invited to Aspen to perform with both Raekwon and Ghostface at a group concert.
"It felt like everything we had done before was just rehearsal," Smith remembers the event. "When it came time to step onstage with members of the Wu-Tang Clan, we had practiced enough to be ready for Raekwon to hand us the microphone and let us take over. That's how I want to be every day of my life."
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