These days the rap landscape doesn’t look as bleak as some would have you to believe. Sure the mainstream doesn’t necessarily pump the illest artists all the time but that’s nothing new. In places like New York once the Mecca of all things hip hop, on the surface the scene can look shaky. However, sometimes the beauty of being in New York is you can catch a show featuring some of your favorite artists on a humble. On the same bill you can get the author of possibly the best album to come out in 2012 in Killer Mike along with the anchor MC from one of the GOAT rap groups the GZA/Genius. A packed crowd in NYC’s Irving Plaza sprinkled with Wu-Tang shirts, were on deck for such an event.
From the moment Killer Mike took the stage he let the crowd know what they were in for. “Hard core G shit!” The electric frenzy of the beat on Big Beast from his latest album R.A.P. Music sent everyone within earshot bouncing off their neighbor. Killer Mike is the product of pure hard work and perseverance and it shows with his stage show. He reminded the crowd that he was once “a weed carrier” and now he’s “a weed buyer”. This man who was once a protégé of one of the greatest groups in hip hop history Outkast refused to fall off. He spoke of listening to Wu-Tang as a kid and now, the blessing of sharing the stage with one of their members. As Mike moved his large heavy frame across the stage going through the various high point songs in his career like God In The Building, and the enormous Ric Flair he never lost his energy. The political heavyweight Reagan slays without a beat as Mike gets his supporters to focus on his dense lyrics. You can tell he means every word when he says, “I’m glad Reagan dead”.
The GZA surprises everyone when the curtains pull back and a band is revealed for his set. They open with one of the Incredible Bongo Band classic breaks to remind the audience of the GZA’s original era. As he steps on stage to perform his classic album Liquid Swords it’s hard to not stand in awe. Here is a man who was once signed to Marley Marl’s Cold Chilling Records in the 80s now performing for a packed crowd in 2012 with a live band backing him. Although there were a number of times where the GZA snapped at his band for missing cues or not flowing slow enough, it was great to hear those RZA produced masterpieces brought to life. The only clansman in attendance to support the GZA onstage was Masta Killa who slayed with his verses from Duel of the Iron Mic and Triumph. With an Ol’ Dirty Bastard t-shirt on GZA paid tribute to his fallen brother by performing Shimmy Shimmy Ya with some help from the crowd. Songs like GOLD and Killah Hills 10304 maintained their sinister sound even coming from live instruments.
Before leaving the stage the GZA reminded everyone that next year 2013 would be the Wu-Tang Clan’s 20th anniversary. We might see the entire Wu back together (sans ODB R.I.P) for another big tour. But even if they don’t come back together, with artists like Killer Mike standing up for hardcore hip hop everywhere it’s evident that Wu-Tang Clan and the music they stand for still aint nothing to F wit.
Words by Dashaun Simmons @13Rose