By Daniel Paiz
Even the most casual of Hip-Hop fans know a song or two from Wu-Tang Clan. On this nearly subzero night in Denver, Colorado at the Mission Ballroom, the 25th Anniversary Tour of Enter The 36 Chambers was not simply performed; it was something to be witnessed, albeit in a slightly different manner.
Warming up the Mission
Dillon Cooper and legendary 90’s Hip-Hop group Onyx had the opening duties for this frigid night and both adjusted the thermometer a few times. Dillon Cooper provided some unexpected content, while Onyx reminded us why “Slam” was the gateway song to their true school Hip-Hop debut album, “Bacdafucup”. Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz transported the crowd to early 1990s New York City, performing classics such as “Throw Ya Gunz” and “Slam”.
It’s always eye-opening to see a group you never expected to see, and for this aficionado it was a nice nostalgic trip.
Entering the Chambers for the first time
I have been working on seeing every single Hip-Hop act that I believe has had a major influence on the music and the culture. Suffice it to say, Wu-Tang Clan has been on that must-see list for TOO long. After a full decade of attempting to see the Wu, the list is now shorter. However, rather than endlessly gushing over “C.R.E.A.M”, “Protect Ya Neck” and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit” amongst others, I’m going to highlight the members themselves instead. Well, the ones in attendance, at least.
MVP of the Night: Young Dirty Bastard
In case you are not familiar with Wu-Tang Clan, one of their members passed away a number of years ago; Ol’ Dirty Bastard is not an artist Hip-Hop will ever forget. Fortunately for the world and ODB’s family, his son followed in his father’s footsteps. Young Dirty Bastard was the most energetic member of the night, even more so than RZA. Just peep how he does ODB justice on the seminal classic “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”:
The engines of the night: GZA, RZA, Ghostface Killah & Raekwon
The four best known members of the Wu (read: foreshadowing), RZA opened the night and the other three ran with it. This isn’t to say that Inspectah Deck and U-God didn’t also drop memorable performances, but these four drew the crowd in and never let go. With this awful weather and a crowd that seemed to need a little motivation, these four essential members reminded everyone in attendance the continuing impact Wu-Tang Clan has on Hip-Hop.
MIA: Method Man and the crowd
RZA announced fairly early into the show that Method Man is currently filming a new project and was unable to make it to the Mile High City. This absolutely impacted a few songs’ performances, but in a way it better highlighted the guys listed in the previous section. Ghost and Rae had moments where it felt like a Ghost and Rae show because of their verses and it seems unlikely anybody was mad at it. GZA performed his verse from the new Rapsody track “Ibtihaj” and also controlled the night with different verses.
Other than Method Man being absent, the only other thing missing was the crowd. That’s not saying its due to the weather, but rather that it took the Wu a bit more than usual to get this crowd into it. It was a wide mix of Wu-Tang die-hards, somewhat less frenzied fans like myself who know a decent number of songs, and then the scene folks. You know, the ones who are there because they know Wu-Tang is big but that’s about it.
Kudos to the Wu and to the die-hards who were unfazed and continued to deliver an essential Hip-Hop experience, one I’ll never forget.