‘WOW’. There is no other way to start this article than saying simply… WOW. What happened on this night was hip hop history. Other than Rock The Bells, these three emcees have NEVER stood on the same stage… UNTIL NOW. If there was a hip hop show that was more unmissable than all members of the Wu-Tang Clan coming together, it was THIS ONE. Upon this show’s announcement, it received mixed opinions from social media: Either it is the sheer excitement of seeing three of the most respected emcees of all time for a reasonable affordable price, or the skeptical reaction, doubts that one of them won’t turn up, or the fact that Busta Rhymes is now signed to YMCMB, and he’s no longer the same person that rocked Notting Hill Carnival in 1997. On this occasion, the doubters are wrong. DEAD WRONG. And now they are kicking themselves. BIG TIME.
Upon arrival of the Eventim (formerly known as Hammersmith) Apollo, the queues were set up as if you waiting for the new Smiler ride at Alton Towers or The Saw ride at Thorpe Park. It’s a simple philosophy; If you turn up early and secure your parking spot, you have a better chance of getting the best view – at the front. So why do ignorant humans think that they can push thru with pints in their hands??? Maybe that question was already answered.
The time management in the venue was very good, but not great. As it opened at 7pm, the DJ played quality hip hop to warm up the set nicely. As it hit 8pm, the opening acts began, it was a great chess move by the promoters to have four opening acts as opposed to one or two, usually after one opening act the crowd get very restless, checking the twitter or Facebook or instagram, and it feels like a millennia before the main event starts.
Knowing who their main eventers are, all four opening acts exploded onto the stage with immense energy, all with their flavour of hip hop, grime, beatbox, b-boy and dance hall, with 15 minute sets each. Notable mentions go to Clencha and Birmingham female MC Lady Leshurr who rocked the crowd and took full advantage of the energy and presence that the three MCs had that night.
Before the fans knew it, the clock struck 9 and all the crowd heard was Method Man’s voice before his physical being came through onto the stage with Redman opening with their Blackout! 2 hits ‘Errbody Scream’ and ‘A-Yo’… it wasn’t long before they went into their classics.
Highlights go to Redman when he tells the crowd if they are guilty of the most nasty things he could think of before commanding the crowd to say ‘F**K You Redman’!!!! And then he would look disgusted….as if to say, why are you dissin’ me for?? Before he would go into his Doc’s Da Name 2000 hit – ‘I’ll Bee Dat!!!’ The other highlight would be when he performed his first hit single ‘Time 4 Sum Aksion’ The capacity crowd in the Eventim Apollo blew up. It’s amusing how fans think they can still film jumping and down like that, obviously they must have money to buy a brand new camera the next day in case their current one dropped out of their hands… Redman is a straight comedian on stage, and he knows it. It’s a wonder why he didn’t jump in the crowd like his tag-team blunt brother…. who ended up changing his shirt and tightening the belt on his jeans after women nearly succeeded in ripping his clothes off as he was crowd surfing!!!
As a fan of wrestling himself, crowd surfing is Method Man’s signature move. Every single time he performs, he will stand on the hands of fans, performing ‘M.E.T.H.O.D. Man’ before doing that dive. It will always be a highlight every single time. It’s an unwritten achievement for every Wu fan to have held Method Man afloat. Even though Meth claims to hate it, he knew full well that the women came to see him out of the three… the women love the track, the guys love the RZA Razor Sharp Mix of ‘All I Need’. It’s always good to see Streetlife make a surprise appearance and perform ‘Grid Iron Rap’ before Meth ‘Brings The Pain’. regular Wu gig followers see this combination coming but is always magic when it happens. The crowd went insane when the Blunt Brothers performed ‘Y.O.U.’ complimenting each other’s fast flow over the Erick Sermon funky beat.
A one hour set is simply not enough for these two… maybe they should have performed the original ‘How High’ track instead of ‘Part 2’, but the science behind it was to hint that a ‘How High 2’ Movie is in the works as according to Redman on the show. Finishing off with ‘Da Rockwilder’, they announce that the ‘main event’ was still to come…. a frightening thought considering they just electrified the crowd.
Let’s be real, there is NOT ONE hip hop artist that can out-perform Busta Rhymes. Some of come close, but can never dethrone the dungeon dragon himself. It is an unwritten rule in hip hop that when it comes to posse cuts, Busta Rhymes ALWAYS comes last to rhyme. If Busta is on your track but he’s not last (except Flipmode Squad), chances are your track won’t be a classic. There has only been one instance where that happened but it’s not considered a classic but more like a hidden gem and that is ‘The Points’ from The Panther Soundtrack.
Busta’s set started with that apocalyptic scenario (no pun intended) to get the crowd hype, and when he exploded on the stage Extinction Level Event style with ‘Everybody Rise’ that alone was enough to make anyone lose their voice. The striking difference upon his arrival was the absence of the original hype man – Spliff Star. This new hype man was unrecognizable to many, within two minutes of being on he took off his shirt hoping to impress the ladies. Whether that happened or not is a different story. He would be later identified as Reek da Villain. Following in Spliff’s shoes is not easy, and Reek had a hard time pulling it off. Simply put, there is NO ONE like Spliff. It sounded odd hearing Reek reciting Spliff’s rhymes on ‘Make It Clap’.
Highlights of the night included Busta putting the women on BLAST Jamaican Patois style! How did they manage to forget Mariah Carey’s lyrics in ‘I Know What You Want’??? The look on Busta’s face was priceless when he realised the women couldn’t sing along… maybe they were there hoping to ‘Twerk It’ on stage. Busta ranted about getting the album budget, the studio time, hooking up with Mariah, his deal with J Records, and the women couldn’t master those few lines. The guys were in hysterics, while the women felt had to laugh in embarrassment. He told them how the guys put it down – AND THEY DID – when ‘Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check’ and ‘Scenario’ blasted through the Eventim Apollo, and women wonder why guys suddenly made the venue a widespread mosh pit. It was Notting Hill Carnival 97 all over again.
Just as Red & Meth did their ODB tribute set earlier in the night, Busta went in with his J Dilla tribute set. Only true heads joyfully recited the lyrics of ‘Enjoy da Ride’, ‘So Hardcore’, ‘Live It Up’ and ‘Show Me What You Got’ respectfully in Dilla’s honor. Once again Busta noticed the uneducated fans who dismissed the Anarchy album which is highly underrated by RePPiN4U standards, and told them if they don’t know their J Dilla, Go Home And Do Their Homework!!! It was safe to say there were a quite a number of undergraduates in the building.
An hour set isn’t enough for Busta either, he didn’t care about the curfew, nor did the fans, and he just kept going. Right in the middle of ‘Party’s Goin On Over Here’ the Eventim management suddenly turned off the music and Busta’s mic, and the crowd response was irate. Busta took his mic and threw it across the stage. Busta knew he was wrong, and the management knew they were wrong. They gave Busta another mic so that Busta can apologize for his actions, but at the same time express that he, Redman and Method Man have been recording artists for over 20 years and they had continuous hits between them, which is why the time management was good but not great. Eventim need to improve on their closing time. The Nas & Damian Marley set at the 02 Academy in Birmingham started at 9 and didn’t end til after midnight. Red & Meth joined Busta on stage and what took place was HISTORY. Heartfelt hugs and embraces was the alternative finish to Busta’s original plan. Usually gigs are a 90 minute – two-hour set. Red & Meth knew that as energetic and as explosive their set was, they knew they could never go on after Busta.
All in all, it was an EPIC night and one for the ages. Show no sympathy to those who missed it because of lame excuses or they spent their Facebook time playing Bubble Saga or Bejeweled Blitz, or focussing their account around drama and act like they didn’t know, or even doubted the stars turning up. It’s a show that we may never see again, and for those who seized the opportunity and witnessed history, TAKE A BOW.
METHOD MAN, REDMAN, BUSTA RHYMES: SALUTE.