August 13, 2015 Raekwon & Ghostface Killah Invade The Paramount Huntington, NY 7-22-15
Perhaps one of the most recognized names in Hip Hop history is Wu-Tang Clan. Debuting Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, their presence on the scene helped revitalize the genre on the East Coast at a time when the West Coast held the crown. Having an extensive discography and much success, each member attained a high level of solo success as well, perhaps the most of any Hip Hop group ever. Their identities have become household names and almost everyone knows of the RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Among the solo Wu Tang family efforts through the years, the records that stand out boldly in the hearts of fans would be Method Man’s Tical in 1994, GZA’s Liquid Swords in 1995, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version in 1995, and of course Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx from 1995.
Hitting stores two decades ago on August 1st, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx has become a classic, and that is why in May of 2015 the announcement was made that Raekwon and Ghostface Killah would join forces to present the Twentieth Anniversary of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx with a tour that would begin in July. A celebration much deserved, on Wednesday July 22nd, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah bought their solid package of hits to The Paramount in Huntington, New York for a rare and welcomed Hip Hop show at the venue. On this evening, they would have support by Dillon Cooper and DJ Mister Cee, and with The Paramount buzzing with excitement, the fun was just about to begin.
The opener of the night was Dillon Cooper, born and raised in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York. Self-taught on guitar at the age of eight, he began at Berklee College of Music at only seventeen years of age. As well as being a guitarist, he has added the achievements of Rapper, Freestyle Roller, and aspiring Actor. With a high level of energy, Cooper was able to get the crowd hyped up as he utilized the whole stage. Accompanied by a DJ from Germany, who made their first US appearance, at the conclusion of the first song, he demanded that the crowd move in closer. The beat had heads bopping and hands swaying in the air. Performing tracks from mixtape Cozmik (2013) featuring beats from Outkast and Mobb Deep, among others, and original mixtape X:XX (2014), eyes and ears were brought to attention.
Calvin LeBrun, better know as DJ Mister Cee, is a radio personality on New York’s RADIO 103.9, as well as a record producer. Best known as the DJ for legendary Hip Hop artist Big Daddy Kane during the late’ 80s and early ’90s, he furthermore worked as associate executive producer for Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album, Ready to Die (1994). After a slight technical issue along with adjustments of light and sound, he was ready to amp up the crowd further. With the room dimly lit, DJ Mister Cee spun ’80s original Hip Hop music. He interacted with the crowd as many of them responded to what he was playing as they started to dance and grind. Playing with the crowd, he teased with calling a few people out because phone usage, sitting, or song requests. Standing his ground and into his set, Mister Cee gave the audience an earful of tunes to get them ready for the headlining act.
Pumped up and ready for the main attraction, fans could not help but think about the history they were about to experience. Two of Wu-Tang’s biggest names on one stage to perform some of the most iconic Hip Hop tunes of the past twenty years. While Raekwon, aka The Chef, attained success with Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, it led to an extensive discography including Immobilarity (1999), The Lex Diamond Story (2003), Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II(2009), Wu-Massacre (2010 with Method Man & Ghostface Killah), Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (2011), and most recent, Fly International Luxurious Art (2015), as well as a plethora of contributions to other artists’ work. If being the pioneer of Mafioso Rap was not enough, he is founder of his own label; ICEH20 Records, and has also ventured into filmmaking alongside Ghostface Killah with a documentary entitled Purple Tape Files to be released in the near future.
Then there is Ghostface Killah, aka Iron Man, who debuted with the platinum selling Ironman in 1996 and continued his success with Supreme Clientele (2000), Bulletproof Wallets (2001), The Pretty Toney Album (2004), Fishscale (2006), More Fish (2006), The Big Doe Rehab (2007), Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City (2009), Apollo Kids (2010), Twelve Reasons to Die (2013), 36 Seasons (2014), and most recently, Twelve Reasons to Die II released in July. On top of it all, Supreme Clientele Presents… Blue & Cream: The Wally Era is reportedly in the works. Founder of his own label, Starks Enterprises, he has also had multiple artist collaborations as well as TV, Video Game, and film appearances. With all that said, he and Raekwon have been partners for sometime, and now fans were going to have a chance to see the two together live in action.
Just a little after 11 PM, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah made their way to the stage to a roar of screams and applause. Beginning with track two off Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, “Knuckleheadz” instantly had cell phones raised in the air as people started swinging their hands. From the front of the stage to the back of the venue, people stood, jamming out to tracks like “Knowledge God,” “Criminology,” and big hit “Ice Cream.” Energetic and with swagger, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah roamed the stage, spitting out “Guillotine (Swordz),” Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple (Remix),” as well as “Ice Water.” Taking a moment to give props to East Coast Hip Hop duo Mobb Deep, a midst the set they performed a cover of “Eye For An Eye” from another 1995 classic, The Infamous.
Getting back to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, “Rainy Dayz” came before “Wisdom Body” and Raekwon’s debut single from 1994, “Heaven & Hell.” Having everyone engaged in the lyrical flow both masters brought to the mic, The Paramount was in a chill mood that could not be denied. Amping up the excitement again, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah later took everyone back to their beginnings with Wu-Tang all-time classic “Protect Ya Neck” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” which had the crowd shouting out the words. The fact is, if someone goes to a Wu-Tang Clan show and do not know these two songs verbatim, they simply are not a true Hip Hop fan. Taking a walk down to the Brooklyn Zoo, and paying respect to the late great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, the unforgettable piano intro of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” ensued as they busted out the track with percussion and enthusiasm. Racing ahead with Ghostface Killah’s Ironman track “Daytona 500,” they took a pit-stop to once again return to their roots with Wu-Tang Clan’s biggest mainstream hit, “C.R.E.A.M.”
With a setlist that spanned their careers and covered multiple collaborations and hits, the audience was no doubt in Hip Hop glory. This was a fitting tribute to a record that helped define what many consider the golden age of Hip Hop. While acts Public Enemy and Run DMC built the platform for Hip Hop as a respected genre, groups like Wu-Tang Clan took the microphone and made sure mainstream music continued to respect the artform. With dates scheduled through August 18th, Hip Hop lovers are urged to get out there and see Raekwon and Ghostface Killah before this anniversary party is over.