GZA and Tom Morello hit up The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night for the live debut of their one-off collaboration “The Mexican,” the Wu-Tang Clan rapper’s cover of Babe Ruth’s 1972 single (the British rock band, not the New York Yankee). For this rendition of the flamenco-flavored, Morricone-inspired cut, Tonight Show house band the Roots fill in for Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who appear on the studio version that was released last month.
It’s a routine performance until the three-minute mark, when the Rage Against the Machine guitarist unleashes one of his trademark, acrobatic solos while a pair of break dancers – the original “The Mexican” was interpolated by Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” – take center stage. The track, a b-boy staple for years, has long been a hip-hop favorite, having been sampled multiple times.
After reuniting last year for their farewell album A Better Tomorrow, it’s been a busy few days for the individual members of the Wu as Ghostface Killah released his collaborative Sour Soul LP with BadBadNotGood, RZA debuted a 13-minute snippet of the Clan’s one-copy-only art piece Once Upon a Time in Shaolin and Raekwon appeared at Kanye West’s surprise London gig to perform “C.R.E.A.M.”
Meanwhile, GZA is reportedly still at work on a space-themed new album called Dark Matter, a project he’s been occupied with for the past three years and that he discussed at length while chatting with scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and guest-lecturing at Harvard in 2012. “It’s just a journey of the universe. Dark matter, dark energy,” the rapper told Rolling Stone at the time. “It’s just a beautiful story – planets, black holes, comets.”