REVIEW: Raekwon @ Sound Academy Mar. 20th, 2013 – CMW

RaekwonBy: Tania Peralta (@hearitfromtania)

When I was standing front row at the Sound Academy last week during CMW, all I wanted to do was talk to the strangers surrounding me. I was technically at the show by myself, however I was emotionally not alone. It sounds cheesy, but everyone was just so happy and relaxed. The smell of herbs in the air may have had something to do with it, but the atmosphere created by the crowd was perfect. Every time I glanced at someone and made eye contact, I had this immediate appreciation for whoever the hell they were. Everyone there seem to have something in common, their knowledge of one of the greatest rap albums ever put out, and the fact that we were all standing in a sweaty crowd waiting for the Chef, the Wu, better known as Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan.

Raekwon hit Toronto during CMW to showcase his first solo album, Only Built For Cuban Linx. While he was stuck at the border trying to get through customs, Toronto’s Dj Agile and Mc Sir Lancealot started the night off just right. For about 2 hours and then some, Agile and Lancealot kept the crowd going with music that Wu-Tang fans would obviously jam to. I heard songs and things being said that I haven’t thought about in years. At one point, Lancealot was even doing the C-Walk. From older Wu songs to variations of Nas, Jay-Z, Big L and so on, the set Agile played made the time pass by quickly and enjoyably.

After waiting nearly 2 hours for Raekwon to come out, Agile and Lancealot did something that set a tone which carried throughout the rest of the show. Lancealot requested Agile to play some Kanye West, an obvious break from the ol’ school Rap that Agile was playing. Lancealot told the crowd that it was all his idea and that he would take the heat for it, but there really was no need to do so. The crowd went with it and knew the lyrics just as well as he did. It’s safe to say that if you bother to go to a Wu-Tang concert you are aware of what Hip-Hop music used to be and what it has become. Agile went on to play some Kendrick Lamar, and off went Lancelot rapping along and getting just as happy about this song as he did for previously played Wu songs.  It was perfect to watch and to be a part of.

We as a generation that is attached to pioneer groups like Wu-Tang, can only keep Hip-Hop music alive if we understand the way it evolves. That clear understanding of what Hip-Hop music was and what it has become continued throughout the show, especially when Raekwon finally hit the stage and spoke to his fans in between each song. He talked about the importance of keeping Hip-Hop as a culture, and Hip-Hop as a music genre alive. More specifically, he directly spoke out to Toronto’s rappers, noting how much talent we posses here in our city, and identified the need for the community to stick together and help each other produce quality material.

Raekwon performed the entire album, from front to back, telling the crowd: “I want to give y’all the entire experience, I want you to feel this shit with me.” Raekwon, who often comes to Toronto, and who was joined on stage by an entourage of 20+ people, made it clear that this performance meant a lot to him.  Aside from this, Raekwon also runs Canadian label, Ice H20, which signed Juno-nominated artist J-DERA.

After reassuring the crowd that Hip-Hop is still alive, and most definitely breathing in Toronto, he began to perform the song “Ice Cream,” which he originally performed with Wu member, Method Man. The fan girl in me wishes Method could have been there, but the surprise of Kardinal Offishall performing his part was just as amazing. When Kardinal hit the stage, the crowd went wild, and in that moment, it felt so good to be from Toronto.

After finishing the song, Raekwon laughed upon recognizing just how crazy the crowd went for Kardinal. Kardinal was at home. The fans were at home. Raekwon was at home and he said: “this is my city too Toronto, I earned my place.” And he certainly has.

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Tania Peralta is a staff writer at AnchorShopPresents.

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