Wu-Tang Clan will call up a few Chicago peace activists to the stage Saturday when it performs at Riot Fest.
It’s part of a larger project that has the legendary hip-hop group taking Chicago under its wing.
Specifically, Wu-Tang wants to work with the city to find an empty school building that could be used as an umbrella office for peace groups. And the band is re-activating its Wu-Tang foundation to raise money to support the project.
“Looking from afar, and now that we’ve been in Chicago, we see a need for a coalition,” said Wu-Tang manager Tareef Michael. “Everyone’s going after their own grants and funding. And that leads us to be divided when we should really be coming together to solve the problems.”
Wu-Tang’s interest in Chicago violence issues began months ago when Michael was sitting at an airport watching a CNN report about a shooting death of a child in Chicago. “It inspired me to do something or try to figure out how we could be involved in stopping the violence,” he said in an interview.
Band members liked the idea.
That’s not surprising given the background of Wu-Tang Clan, whose members come from struggling backgrounds. It’s played out in their raw lyrics.
Last month, Michael, Wu Tang CEO Mitchell “Divine” Diggs and producer Oliver “Power” Grant visited Chicago.
They toured the South and West sides, talked to children and moms who’ve seen or suffered the consequences of shootings.
They visited King Academy on 71st Street, met with Mothers Against Senseless Killings on East 70th Street and talked to Liz Dozier, the former Fenger Academy High School principal who appeared on CNN’s “Chicagoland” documentary. She’s since gone on to run Chicago Beyond, a nonprofit that works on youth-safety issues.
The Wu Tang entourage spent time with 48 inmates in Cook County Jail and talked statistics with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab.
“It was really emotional for us,” said Michael. “You see things on television and social media, but when you’re on the ground, it moves you.”
Anthony Moseley, who heads Chicago-based Collaboraction Theatre, a company that focuses on social issues, joined Michael and his cohorts on the tour of Chicago. He’ll be at Riot Fest, too.
“There’s a lot of work being done. And they’re bringing some energy and resources to help lift up that work,” Moseley said. “They have an incredible platform and a lot of wisdom to share. So we’re all honored and delighted to be connected to them.”