(AllHipHop Features) The face of Hip-Hop has changed greatly since Raekwon’s introduction to the game about 25 years ago when he unsystematically moved through the place he once knew as home, the Park Hill Projects in Staten Island. We know the story pretty well now, through the storytelling of The Chef and his comrades, The Wu-Tang Clan. Without a doubt, as a unified front, they are collectively revered as one of the greatest Hip-Hop groups to have walked this earth. I would argue that while RZA is often credited with pulling the best emcees in his range in order to orchestrate one of the most powerful forces we’ve witnessed for over 2 decades, Raekwon has been the most successful at remaining connected to the Wu-Tang lineage, crafting a legacy while simultaneously continuing his own evolution.
The Wild Tour recently made its way its way to the Masquerade in Atlanta filling the once popular, but now desolate Underground with fans excited to see Rae perform. Hosted by the boisterous Fort Knox who kept the energy levels up all night teamed by the Hip-Hop accuracy of DJ Kerosene, the two served as a well-balanced team. Homage was paid to those who have passed on including Mama Niecy (mother of Killer Mike), Mel Carter (Manager and Wu-Tang family), Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) and Fresh Kid Ice (2 Live Crew). Offering a multi-layered line-up, this was not a show where all of the opening artists sound the same. There was a variety in artistic delivery, age, gender and sound. On the flip side, too many acts grew the crowd tiresome.
The opener Javar Rockamore, intrigued with a full band and topped it off with singer McKenzie Lawson, dropping catchy vocals on “Girlfriend” in fishnets and thigh high boots. Dope Knife offered some unexpected Eminem-type twists in his rhymes that painted a creative performance. Devin Malek, was a young rapper from East Atlanta reminiscent of a young Snoop Dogg, who was incoherent in his final delivery. The Notorious L.A.D. (Wu-Tang family/Gansta Grillz) entered the stage to OutKast’s “Return of the G” and moved with the confidence of the Wu-Tang bloodline running through his veins as he traveled down memory lane.
The Goddess Sa-Roc played no games in her lyrical warfare as she gracefully embodied what it means to bring feminine energy to the mic with confidence and intelligence. She’s a grown woman adorned with bamboo earrings like a real one from around the way, beaded African bangles like Queen Nzinga and doesn’t have to compete with anyone in the room. Add to the equation that she can freestyle over any of Biggie’s dopest beats and the bar has been set pretty high that you can’t touch her magic.
He’s been called Raekwon the Chef, Shallah Raekwon and Lex Diamond. At 47 he’s known to most close to him as Rae. In a time where our generation is losing our greats before we can acknowledge them as legends, his position is a special one. He’s alive. Still spittin’. Still nice, better yet-nicer as he’s evolved yet again. He’s still the flyest of the Wu-Tang Clan. As we approach the 22nd anniversary of Only Built for Cuban Linx better known as the Purple Tape, the living legend is enjoying the fruits of his labor.
When he hit the stage he wasted no time in making two things clear: the show was dedicated to Prodigy and he was happy to be on Atlanta soil. There’s a long history with Raekwon in the city, which is why the night is very special. It’s home away from home. There’s love in the room from his baby sister at the front of the stage and her crew. He’s surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. He’s rocked with OutKast on “Skew it on the bar-b” way before we saw really saw Northern and Southern rappers have this type of chemistry.
Performing “Marvin”, “I am Nothing” and “Crown of Thornes” and “This is What It Comes Too” off the album The Wild his latest work proves that he’s kept his knives sharpened. With his artist P.U.R.E., a Virginia native who he has seemed to find a kindred spirit with, Raekwon is truly one who lives by the code. He believes in family, loyalty and developing those who are hungry enough to want it for themselves. It was equally a special night for P.U.R.E. who is featured on “M&N” on The Wild, because it is his first time being on tour. You can see the excitement in Raekwon’s eyes as he speaks on the talent of his ICE H2O Record label’s artist who has a powerful song “War Time”, that samples a portion of a popular interview done by Tupac Shakur while incarcerated in Clinton Correctional Facility.
After running through his arsenal of solo and Wu-Tang joints and doing a set of Mobb Deep classics including “Eye for an Eye”, “Shook Ones Part II”, “Quiet Storm”, “Keep it Thoro” and “The Life is Mine”, he closed with some jewels:
"This is my message to the new ni--as":
• Believe in yourself.
• Stay dreamin’: You can get what the f—k you wanna get.
• Don’t front on the ni--as that came before you. You won’t get no good luck after that.
• Love your family through thick and thin. Love ‘em.
• Be a giver. Give to those that want to work for it.
• Be a real mutha----- too. Be a real one. Don’t be a sucka. Don’t get all Hollywood when you got one fu---- record. And got a lil’ piece of jewelry on and change your whole attitude. We can see that.
• Respect the culture man. Criticism is a mutha-----, but you know what? You gotta accept it…but don’t let ni---- stop you from doin’ what you need to do.
• Be a winner. Be a mutha----in winner. You’re a winner. All of ya’ll are winners to me. We here. We alive. We well. We partyin’.
The Wild Tour runs through September 26th and ends in San Antonio, Texas. Check www.raekwondachef for local dates.