A Feast for Brooklyn, Courtesy of The Chef

This past Saturday, Raekwon, Smif-N-Wessun, Skyzoo, Joell Ortiz, and many other Brooklyn emcees took over the Prospect Park Bandshell to deliver a pristine free summer concert. The event was hosted by the Lyricist Lounge, which showcases up and coming emcees as well as veterans in the game through concerts and other events. The concert was part of the annual Celebrate Brooklyn! series that takes place each summer. The show lasted around three hours which I found surprising being that it was free. The event was a fairly typical hip hop concert filled with hometown shout outs every five minutes; air horn and explosion sound effects from the DJ, and audience call and response from the performers. Of all the artists, Raekwon definitely had the best stage presence. Rae’s headliner hour long set included fragments of Wu classics like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’”, as well as songs off popular solo albums like “Criminology” (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx), “Surgical Gloves” (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2), as well as a few songs off his latest album Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang such as “Rock N’ Roll” and “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang”. In between songs, Chef cracked jokes and gave life advice to the audience, reminding the masses to never stop dreaming and to find something you love and to excel at it. Rae’s high level of interaction with the audience definitely made the concert a more personable experience. One of the funnier moments of the evening was when Raekwon asked what the audience thought of hip hop today to which there was an instant chorus of “boos” from the audience.
Overall Raekwon’s performance was enjoyable for those who knew him, and maybe less so for new listeners as his songs are more lyrical heavy-weights than songs made to be a catchy pop tune. This was my first time seeing Raekwon as a solo act and though it is definitely not the same as seeing the entire Clan on stage, it was certainly a solid performance. Raekwon is one artist whose style remains consistent despite the years. The grimy and gritty Wu sounds that Raekwon helped define is still alive in him today; which is why Wu fans are so loyal to the collective and to each solo artist in the group. As the concert came to an end, The Chef said in his last minutes on stage, “Just remember, that when you real hungry and you want a real good meal, you come to The Chef Raekwon’s house.” With that said, Rae turned his back to the audience and exited the stage as the chants of “Wu-Tang” continued loud and strong.

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