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There are lots of middle-aged rappers, but not too many have made the transition as nimbly as GZA (born 1966), who was not only the Wu-Tang Clan’s oldest member, but possibly its oldest soul, too. The calmly delivered college lectures he’s given over the last year haven’t spoiled his legacy as an uncompromising MC; if anything, the talks illuminated how an undistracted love for hip-hop and a seriousness about craft can sustain a rhymewriter into his late 40s. It helps that his signature album, 1995’s Liquid Swords, has a certain grim agelessness, as if it captured a crucial moment in a once-and-future war for the underground. GZA will perform the album in its entirety at the Howard Theatre. As opening acts he’s bringing along Atlanta’s Killer Mike, whose R.A.P. Music is one of 2012’s must-haves, and Bear Hands, a Brooklyn indie rock act that has ties to MGMT.
GZA performs at 8 p.m. at The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. $20-$25. thehowardtheatre.com. (202) 803-2899.