Wu-Tang Clan @ MattyFest: Concert Review
Wu-Tang Clan @ MattyFest: Concert Review by Addi "Mindbender" Stewart
Sept 6, 2019
Wu Tang is a religion. That's the first thing I must declare, as I went to Wu-Church last night, with a few thousand T Dot disciple. Before their MattyFest show at Echo Beach during a chilled-out late summer evening, the people were definitely ready for Shaolin's Finest, the headliners after a frenetic day of punk rock, pop and hip hop, as well as various delicacies (that ran out at 7 PM, yikes! But, I digress.) When 9:30 came around: it was showtime. 'Cut Throat City', RZA's next cinematic creation, a Katrina-era stick-up flick featuring T.I. with vitiligo amongst others was advertised, before 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' their brand new cinematic series on HULU was broadcast to the few thousand folks that enthusiastically gathered on the beach sand to kick up some ruckus.
RZA says "Microphone check one two one two. What up? My name is the RZA, representing the Wu-Tang Clan.
When I say hip hop, you say one love. Put your Wu-Tang W's up in the sky. When I say Wu-Tang, you say forever!
I want to bring out the one they call the head, because we form like Voltron. He goes by the GZA!" "It's Wu motherfuckerssss!" was the chant as the violins of 'Reunited' sliced through the air. The GZA, lowkey murderous genius king as he always remains, crept through the fog and gently smashed the stage second, spitting "Reunited! Double LP, world excited, struck a match to the underground, industry ignited..." as Wu-Tang Forever's album cover was beaming from behind his chess game analyzer (aka his domepiece).
If you have never seen Wu-Tang before, you might think there is a bit of chaos to the order of the proceedings. And you would be ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. This isn't some predictable rap machine that is always the same. This is the most mysterious and magical combination of MCs to EVER manifest, and you never know what the fuck will happen at any time. RZA jumped on the 'Reunited' beat not long after GZA, and half-freestyled, half-performed his marble-mouth magic rhymes: "take your brain on space walk/ talk strange like Bjork", and he meant it.
This next MC is considered one of the greatest MCs of all time, and his name is Ghost. Face. Killah!!
As Ghostdeini bursts through the back door sounding mighty healthy while performing... "Mighty Healthy", screaming "Both hands crusty/ chillin with my man Rusty/ low down blew off the burner kinda dusty..."Baggy sweater, white towel in hand, and voice ON FIRE. Ghost got so much grimy rap joy to give to the people!
Ghost then wisely passed his mic baton to the other chef in RAGU, as the crispy fucking drums of Incarcerated Scarfaces came on, and Raekwon came creeping from the back, spitting "me and the RZA connect/ blow a fuse/ you lose/ half ass crews get demolished and bruised..." Multi-colored windbreaker and fly kicks on fleek, Shallah spit darts explosively with a grin on his face that clearly showed how much he loved to be back in Toronto. Considering he just opened the Purple Factory Boutique on Dundas St. the same day, it's easy to understand why the love stays so real.
Next ninja to slice? All you heard was a swarm of bees and swords, chaos and cold-blooded fear, then... "Poisonous paragraphs smash the phonograph in half, it be the Inspectah Deck on the warpath!" 'Guillotines'!! Fuck yes. There was no predicting what Wu classics we were going to be blessed with today, and with the weather holding up, the sound and lights looking nice, and apparently all the Clan in the house today (so far so good, but we'll see soon) things were shaping up to be yet another perfect night of microphone murder.
DJ Mathematics dropped a nuclear bomb next, and it went: "Natty blooood! One blooood.." Are you fucking serious? Masta Killa comes through fearlessly like: "Fuck fame! I shoot a hole in a 50 Cent piece to test my aim..." spitting bold-face threats to foolish bwoy who wan' fi tess. To let the record ring out and hear Junior Reid's magical voice sing on the W classic was exceptional. Now THAT's how you make an intro.
"So happy to be rocking here in Toronto. One of the coolest cities in the whole world!" was the compliment the Abbot generously poured on the crowd between incendiary introductions. "Big up to the Six", Rae spits in the back. To hear all the Clan members voices layer over each other and feel out their personalities as we see the actual versions of them, it's such a phenomenon like NO other experience in all of hip hop culture and history. It can never be taken for granted. What else can not be taken for granted? That "Wu Tang Clan Aint Nuttin Ta Fuck Wit"! Which crashed the crowd crazily, as Bobby Bobby Digi barked the chorus and first verse, screaming "Boom! Bam! Aw man! Damn I scream like Tarzan!!" as everyone went apeshit. Apeshit levels doubled instantly when verse two was reached, and we were blessed beautifully with the unforgettable Ticallion Stallion, with: "The Meth will commence tomorrow/ style conditions berzerk bizarro!!" and spit hot flaming volcanic passion until "I'm like rubber, n!ggas is like glue, whatever you say rubs off me, sticks to you..." fresh with the red fisherman bucket cap on, word to Erick and Parrish Making Dollars.
"Now we're going to go into a few cuts off our debut album, 'Enter the 36 Chambers'! And all the songs featuring Old Dirty Bastard will be performed by his son, Young Dirty Bastard!!" in which a garbled, scraggly amazing yelp-howl spewed through the speaker, announcing the one and only first born son of The God Big Baby Jesus Rusty Dirt McGirt eternally known as The Old Dirty Bastard. "Shame on a Nuh!" kicked off, including the timeless jewel: "you wanna get gun? SHOOT! BLAOW!". Then Method Man, Raekwon, and YDB again, all tag teaming the microphone like a royal rumble ruckus fight. RZA had to burst in from the back next, spraying Moet all over the audience, Fire Marshall Bill (or is that Bobby?) style, simply skyrocketing the energy past the moon and back.
Oddly, there was no U-God Golden Arms in attendance tonight (nor Cappadonna), and the few heads who know their Wu-Platoon Swarm levels, they noticed it. At the same time, it's always interesting to hear Wu-Tang Clan members spit each other's lyrics, to me. So when Method Man started going "Raw I'mma give it to ya, with no trivia/ raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia..." it was a little weird, but quite acceptable. They all spit their hellfire, but when it came to Masta Killa, the beat dropped out, and he spit those cold darts with such intense passion. "We have an APB on an MC. Killa! Looks like the work of a Masta..."
It's a history lesson and a vision of timelessness when seeing Wu-Tang. It takes you back to where you first were when you heard the 36 Chambers magic, and reminds you how unique it remains compared to the rap universe, both then and now. This is always a good time for Meth to do the OG roll call as the hi-hat gets hit quick: "From the slums of Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan strikes again. The RZA, the GZA, Old Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, (Cappadonna, Streetlife), Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah AND: M-E-T-H-O-D MAN." The killa keys, the bangin beat, it always rocks the fucking spot, as does Clifford Smith. "C.R.E.A.M." came next, that classic banger. Inspectah Deck's voice was a little hoarse, but the truth still kills forever. And Rae's "sticking up whiteboys on ballcourts" always makes one smirk and/or sweat, stop and pause, and reflect on the days. Hilarious intro by RZA next: "Normally when you have a song with lots of MCs, the first two are good, but the third one isn't very good... we made a song with NINE classic MCs killing it!" And of course that means its time for: Protect Ya Neck. Still eternally murderous. Watching YDB bounce off Ghostface, Rae spit U-God rhymes, RZA bark "my clan increase like Black unemployment!" and hearing GZA bring it home acapella with the Source quotable: "first of all, who's your A&R? a mountain climber who plays an electric guitar?!"
"Home of the Toronto Raptors, where ya'll at? Championship city!" was happily reminded by Ghostface, which ignited more raucous cheers. That was the cherry on the icing on the cake for me. Ghostface performing TWICE in Toronto in summer 2019 (peace to the Public Enemy show), us being NBA Champs (#WeTheNorth forever like Wu-Tang), and this damn concert just constant killer hip hop, no bullshit, no weak shit, no dumb shit. "Duel of the Iron Mic". "Fish" (with Raekwon screaming "ayo, THE SIX!" on beat instead, for fuck sakes!) RZA's interesting interpolation of 'Come Together' and remixed as a Wu-Tang sing-a-long... that quickly took a left turn into '4th Chamber' and its armageddon death siren wail. Fucked some people up, they weren't ready! So Meth stopped it and said: "Y'all weren't ready, okay. Check it after the beat drops: when we jump, you jump. Everyone. Yes, even you in the wheelchair..."
It dropped. Ghostface and RZA slaughtered it on the altar. The spirit of Killah Priest was hovering over the body.
So many amazing moments. Know how I said how unpredictable the Wu-Tang energy could be? I wonder if it was because we were at MattyFest, why they decided to pull out 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and froth up a moshpit of madness for a few minutes? That was something. Ghostface getting his fratboy/white girl wasted on was something else to witness. Know what else was?
The ODB segment, in which not only did a few thousand people lose their collective shit when YDB performed "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" and some grunting parts of "Got Your Money", but when "BROOKLYN ZOO" descended, there was an eruption so volcanically hype, while Young Dirty Bastard was performing, the crowd had LIFTED UP A GUY IN HIS WHEELCHAIR WHO WAS ROCKING OUT WITH YDB TO BROOKLYN ZOO. NEVER seen that in 25 years.
This was basically the peak pinnacle of a show with many, many elevated moments. How special it was, and eternally is, to watch the Wu-Tang Clan kill the stage, mics and men and women alike. Some extra 'Gravel Pit' sauce and vicious miraculous flowing by Method Man, and exclamation pointed with a hellafied version of 'Triumph', that was the last motherfucking 25th Anniversary show of Wu-Tang Clan in Toronto during our Championship Summer.
It didn't NEED Ghostface gushing verses out to the very last moment, him throwing all the extra water bottles into the crowd, or RZA even being kind enough to say "1, 2, 3" as well as "un, deux, trois" before saying "PEACE!", but it happened.
25 years later, the Clan still rules Hip Hop. KRS One can sit down now. When Wu-Tang Clan said 'forever', they fucking meant FOREVER, and there may not be anything more beautiful to witness in Hip Hop history.
Wu-Tang is not only for the children. It's a religion. We don't do the cross thing. We throw our W's up.
by Addi "Mindbender" Stewart