Raekwon @ First Avenue Mainroom
November 4th, 2012
With the first annual Twin Cities Sneaker.Art Xchange hosted by Studiiyo23 by day, Sunday night converged sneaker enthusiast and hip hop heads together at a First Ave after party to rock to Raekwon the Chef of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. In a major surprise, there were relatively little in the crowd that night, not typical of a show usually done by a Wu-Tang artist. Despite First Ave not being as packed as it probably should have been, it lead Raekwon to have a crowd engaging performance, even taking requests at certain points.
The set consisted of snippets of songs from his nineteen year catalog. The Shaolin (Staten Island) rapper brought out some of his classic verses from Wu-Tang’s debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), starting off with it’s signature song and street motto, “C.R.E.A.M.” and adding “Protect Ya Neck” later down the set. Raekwon then moved onto another staple hip hop album with his solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., which showcased his drug-laden mafioso verses in “Criminology,” “Heaven & Hell,” and “Glaciers of Ice” to the multisyllabic rhymes filled with hip hop quotables in “Verbal Intercourse” and to his suave fly-guy-get-gettin’-heavy-on-the-Wu-slang verse in “Ice Cream.” The set had it’s awkward moments as Raekwon pointed the mic to an unresponsive crowd hoping that they’d sing along which lead to pauses in some songs and some strange back-and-forths between Rae and the crowd. Nevertheless, he hyped the small crowd back up with shoutouts to the late great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a fellow member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and even performed ODB’s hit, “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”
Raekwon did provide newer songs as well, tapping into his 2009 sequel of his debut and critically acclaimed comeback album with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, where he performed his singles “New Wu” and “Have Mercy.” He also performed the title track from his 2011 album, Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, as well songs from his latest mixtapes, 2011’s Dope On The Table EP and 2012’s Unexpected Victory. After an hour of Raekwon cooking up hot verses for his fans, living up to being called the Chef, he served up four more songs in an encore performance ending the show with “Black Mozart.”
With the show having its odd moments and surprising tiny audience, it probably wasn’t the best experience for Raekwon and fans alike expecting a hyped up performance. Although, the show felt more like an after party than a concert, Raekwon still showed First Ave some of his talents and provided us with some of that raw and showed how Wu-Tang still throws down.
Written by Mahad Mohamed, Radio K volunteer