Tuesday night, December 23, 2008 in New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, located in midtown Manhattan close to Madison Square Garden, legendary rap group Wu Tang Clan put on a show that was very good, but very quick.
InsideHoops.com was in the building.
The evening opened a bit after 8PM ET with famous NYC DJ Mister Cee, wearing a white “I love New York” shirt that had a red Wu Tang logo in place of where the red heart would normally be, playing quick cuts of rap music’s most famous songs.
As is required by law, Mister Cee shouted out New York’s boroughs, plus Long Island, New Jersey, and even Connecticut. Yet unless I simply missed it, he didn’t mention The Bronx. Was it on purpose? Maybe some local hip-hop guru knows.
Cee likes it dark on stage and in the crowd, and made multiple requests to the light guys to keep it dim.
At 8:53 p.m, some rock/rap group came out that I never caught the name of. It was two rappers, a guitarist, bass player and drummer, rapping over live hard rock. They sang some song where the main chorus was “I’m a rock star, baby.” The crowd wasn’t feeling it. They were only on until a minute or two past 9pm — barely 10 minutes.
At 9:16 p.m. a multi-member rap group called Ice Water floods the stage. No instruments this time, they’re a normal rap crew with a DJ and a big stack of members, plus a cameraman on stage, and a dozen or so friends just off stage off to the side. Hitting hard as hell, they tried to tear it up, but had almost no shot at impressing the crowd. Fans were there to see the Wu Tang Clan, and unless an opening act was someone legendary it was going to be next to impossible to win support from the audience.
But, it’s easier to win fans when the sound system works. Towards the end of the first song, which the crowd wasn’t feeling at all anyway, the music from the DJ booth shut off. Booing starts.
“We were supposed to be up here for 15 minutes” angrily yells one of the lead rappers. So he unleashes a short freestyle. Something about “They call me the guitar man.” Fans boo.
Then, another member starts talking about New York. And that was the running theme for the next 15 minutes or so. As the sound quickly functioned again, they did more songs, got no love, and in-between each track they mentioned about a thousand times how this is their home, New York is the place, they represent New York, etc. Over and over. They were mostly rapping over their own pre-recorded voices from the DJ track, which didn’t impress people either.
The truth is, Ice Water wasn’t that hot, but fans were so anxious to see the Wu Tang Clan that even if they were, they’d probably have gotten no love.
By 9:38 p.m. they’re off the stage.
Somewhere around 10 p.m. (give or take 5-7 minutes) the Wu Tang Clan finally takes the stage. Almost everyone from Wu was there.
Wu made sure to perform a bunch of their most well-known hits, including “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Method Man,” and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit.”
As I heard he tends to do, Method Man made sure to crowd-surf for a while.
The group also shouted out Old Dirty Bastard. And ODB’s mom was at the show and came on stage, saying hello to the crowd for a second. They also did a bit of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.”
I was busy enjoying myself at the show, which is why I’m not being too specific about which songs they did other than the ones I mentioned above. I’ve heard every album they’ve done, and every key song they’ve released, but don’t know a lot of the actual song names. If I find a listing of what they did, I’ll update this page and link to it here on InsideHoops.com.
But as for the show, it was damn good. Loud to the point of a lot of the words being muffled by the high volume, but damn good.
The only official InsideHoops.com complaint: It was too short. By 11:09 p.m. Wu finished.
The Wu Tang Clan represented properly, but with all those members, they could have stretched the performance out longer. Even though it’s a Wu show, why not let a whole bunch of the dudes rip some solo songs, giving other guys a chance to chill out, catch their breath, and make the show last longer?
Still, a good night. I’m definitely glad I saw what is basically the best rap group in a very long time.