Before we even got in to the Button Factory, for last night’s Wu Legends show, we had to run the gauntlet of security checks with metal detectors. Good job I left my Shaolin Sword at home. Ironically, in the post-Phoenix Park paranoia, there was a great atmosphere inside with strangers shaking hands and high-fiving for no apparent reason. I actually spent a good bit of time people watching and the crowd was an interesting cross-section Irish Hip-Hop Wiggas, skangers, wannabe WAG types, a few ‘Rores’ and his mates from the south county etc. At one stage I was standing between a hipster Jesus, replete with wine coloured skinny jeans and white espadrilles, and a Metal Kid with the black metal band t-shirt with slits from the sleeves to the waist, jumping around and hugging everyone like he was on E.
First up was Street Literature, a more than adequate Irish hip-hop group, consisting of 4 MCs and DJ Moshchops on the decks (and a random guy who kept walking on stage taking pictures.) Each MC got plenty of opportunity to rhyme and shine, with Costello and Willa Lee standing out for me. Of course there was lots of call & response antics to get the crowd warmed up :‘Street Lit – Keep It Lit’, ‘Wu – Tang’ and my favourite ‘W is for Wu-Tang but also Working Class.’ I often find Irish hip-hop a bit of a stretch but after Street Lit’s performance I will definitely be heading to http://workinclassrecords.com/ to give it more of a chance.
Guess what happened next? Yeah about an hour of a delay before the Legends hit the stage. Obviously that is nothing compared with the Raewkon’s gig last year but it was still a bit of a pain. Like a hip-hop John the Baptist, DJ Symphony hit the stage first to alert us to the impending arrival. And while his job was to hype the crowd, I found his routine which mainly consisted out shout-outs to dead rappers: Biggie, Tupca, Nate Dogg, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, J Dilla, Guru; a bit trite. “Say B.I.G. Say R.I.P. Say O.D.B. Say R.I.P”: you get the idea.
With most of the Clan having been at their show in Tripod last year (which I sadly missed) the Wu Legends were billed as Ghostface Killah, GZA, Raekwon and Masta Killa. Word from the UK dates was that Masta Killa had sayed at home, so it was no surprise when we just has the Ghost-GZA-Chef troika, with backing from Symphony and some random ‘affiliate’ standing at the side of the stage occasionally adding a word or 2.
The Legends hit the ground at a whirldspeed throwing out ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’ from ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…’ first. They barely paused for breath in the first 20 minutes or so with verses delivered from a mixture of band albums (‘Shame on a Nigga’, ‘ ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ etc.) and solo albums (‘Ice Cream’, ‘4th Chamber’), even an ODB track or two getting an outing: ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ anyone? Despite the energy and vocal interplay I found it a bit annoying that most the tracks were cut short, with Symphony hitting the explosion effect button on his kit, killing the momentum.
After being treated to an extended monologue by Ghost, about how they love Dublin and shit, we hit one of the high points of the show where they got 2 punters from the crowd to rap Method Man’s and ODB’s verses on ‘Protect Ya Neck’. Both guys did themselves proud but it was Adrian from Cavan who stole the show spending the entire time on stage dancing around like a speed-fuelled Duracle bunny who could spit mad rhymes like the best of them. I am sure it will turn up on YouTube soon if you don’t believe me.
After that it was plain-sailing all the way, with Ghost taking control of proceedings and GZA drifting more and more out of it as he slugged from a magnum of champagne. Like a complaint pet we all held our ‘cell phones’ up for ‘Can it be All So Simple’, our Ws in the air when asked, and promised to buy a T-Shirt at the Merch stall. As the midnight hour curfew approached they hit us with a double shot of ‘Triumph’ and ‘Gravel Pit’ before slipping off stage to a karaoke version of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Goin On’.
All told it was a great night only slightly tainted by the delays and clichés / lack of subtlety that seem to be par for the course with hip-hop shows.