Much like last year’s Northside I took a detour from my normal line of coverage to check out hip-hop on the opening night of the festival. Last year featured an upa-and-coming Theophilus London while this year featured veteran GZA. The Wu-Tang member was playing Liquid Swords in its entirety backed by Grammy winning Grupo Fantasma. It was a sold out and loving crowd, with long time fans in attendance singing and cheering along to GZA.
While the focus may have been on Liquid Swords there was plenty of love given to New York, the Bronx and of course Wu-Tang. Most notably, GZA covered Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” to the delight of the audience.
While I shouldn’t be surprised, GZA kept pace with quick delivery of rhymes, rapping with the ease of a true pro. Some of the rap I’ve seen had the problem of being approximate representations of songs rather true performance. Too much of the entourage or not being able to keep up with the pace have made a possibly good set into one that’s just OK.
Full review and photos from the night after the jump.
Not the case with GZA who has been playing Liquid Swords recently although this was one of the first performances with Grupo Fantasma. This was more than just a show with live music and the talent behind Grupo Fantasma showed.
With some members doing double duty as part of Brownout, who opened the show, Grupo Fantasma added depth and flair to GZA’s work. Horns were bouncing around and added percussion making the music as powerful as the lyrical content. No one would have known this was a recent collaboration between GZA and Grupo Fantasma.
Old school fans were richly rewarded and as the night ended, GZA’s performance highlights the potential of rap. The ability to build, create and adapt with the simplest of tools; the spoken word.