GZA Live @2Funky Music Cafe, Leicester, August 31, 2018!

GIG REVIEW WRITTEN BY MICHAEL GRANT, UK AMBASSADOR FOR WU-WORLDWIDE DJ COALITION

February 2012: I had seen a number of Wu members live in a solo set. (I’m unsure whether to include Method Man in that list… every time I saw him he was with Redman) but GZA was the most surprising… this is a man who has been known to be more ‘laid GZA Instagramback’ in the crew… what he did blew me away. If you want to know what that was… you might wanna click here…

So upon hearing the news that he was returning to the UK, most notably the 2Funky Music Cafe, a place where I have become very familiar with over recent years, I knew history was going to be made. AGAIN.

In past reviews, I made the statement that too many opening acts may be a bit tiresome… I still stand by that. 2 opening acts should be the maximum for any gig, and yes it may be tiresome for those who are unfamiliar, but on this night, 2Funky have stuck to their formula, tweaked it, and the result is a stacked line up, the best I have ever seen. Each artist knew who they were opening for, and went all out on stage.

Strizzy Strauss opened up the night, featuring a new track and always dropping the Leicester Champions anthem as they did last time around. I was so glad to see Big Beasy out there to perform for the first time, especially after he came through in the 11th hour of the special RePPiN4U Show back in June. The only drawback there was he only performed one track in ‘Unstoppable’…but considering it was a Wu-Tang show, Beasy should have hit the crowd with ‘On My One’… the crowd would have went CRAZY with him flowing over the Wu Gambinos beat…

It could be time constraints or him being a late addition to the line up… but I believe Beasy dropped the ball there.

I want to take this time to apologise to Asterix and Dark A Brown as I missed most of their sets, but I also want to commend Leicester for their honesty and integrity… I actually lost my phone during that time before I realised… turns out – somebody handed it in. For that I cannot thank Leicester enough…

Loaneski turned it up a notch or two on his set, he clearly had more time this time around which gave him the opportunity to unleash – Welcome to Babylon… a scathing track which saw Loaneski as the relentless, cocky but respectful MC his fans know and love.

I may have lost count of how many times I have seen Shakezpeare perform. This time he put on an incredible homage to the Wu-Tang Clan in his own way – he had all his people up on stage just like the Clan would, all of them who he grew up with from childhood. Not only that – the lighting visuals were next level – the green lighting set off the atmosphere giving Shakezpeare and his crew that element of mystique, and each MC took the mic and rocked it like ‘Triumph’ was the instrumental track. Once again big ups to G’Mas catering for helping make 2Funky so homely with their authentic Caribbean cuisine. Why have greasy kebab and chips that may be under-cooked at 2am that may upset your stomach in the early hours of the following morning when you can have rice and peas, fried fish, jerk/bbq chicken, fried dumpling,  coleslaw, which will make your belly say THANKS?! I know which one I’d pick.

There was one thing I noticed at 2Funky that I hadn’t seen since the Onyx show… barricades. Right now you might be scratching your heads of what I mean. By that I mean the venue has never sold out that much to the point where the owner is now contemplating a bigger venue… like the big clock in the Liquid Swords video… the timing was perfect. It was pay day for many, it was the weekend, it was the last week before new school/college/university term starts, the weather was pleasant, and GZA only had limited dates, which meant fans from all over the UK came to Leicester to see Wu-Tang’s most lyrical swordsman.

In his 70- minute set (yes he stepped on stage at 11:50pm and stepped off at 1am) – GZA has this way of captivating the audience simply by standing there, with one hand in his pocket, and yet giving off so much energy. Had that be anyone else like a lesser known artist… he would be booed off stage surely.

Performing his big tracks across his entire catalogue, but it was his unique (no pun intended) tribute to Ason Unique himself which was the highlight. Instead of asking the crowd to put up their lighters or phones up… he jumps into a story of Dirty’s life, name dropping past hits just like he did with Labels, Publicity & Fame… absolutely amazing.

However GZA surprised me just like he did the first time I saw him live – but in reverse – this time he did NOT leave the stage and join the crowd while performing the 36 Chambers hits, there were moments where it looked like he was going to do just that… but it didn’t happen.

Shakezpeare GZA Words From the Troubled Genius

Photo courtesy of Shakezpeare

Despite that, GZA rocked Leicester down with minimal effort. Some may say that Shakezpeare may have out-performed GZA on this night, and that is an arguable point, but if you’re supporting an artist as high as a calibre in the ‘head of voltron’ himself, you better bring it, and that’s what exactly Shakezpeare, Strizzy Strauss, Asterix, Loaneski, Dark A Brown, and Big Beasy did.

The 2Funky Music Cafe has become more than a venue for not just hip hop but for all genres, it has evolved into one of the biggest and best hip hop communities in the UK today. Where does the 2Funky Music Cafe go from here? Only one way – UP!