There is not much of a point in trying to sum up the influence that the Wu Tang Clan has had within the confines of a paragraph or two. They have had such a collective impact on hip-hop and culture at large, it’s impossible to put into just a few words. The longevity its surviving members continue to enjoy is proof of Wu’s reign. The Wu Tang Clan has been nothing to fuck with for decades now, and even your mom knows who they are. One of the most important and familial members of the Wu Tang Clan, The GZA, performed at Baltimore Soundstage with a live band on February 27, 2020.
There were two listed openers for the show, both from Baltimore. First was MC Bravado and his band the 9-5. The mostly sold out show had not quite filled in by the time MC Bravado took the stage, but he performed like it was a full crowd nonetheless. MC Bravado pours his energy into his performances, and his band is tight and practiced along with him. The audience seemed to warm up to Bravado as he performed, cheering at the end of each song. MC Bravado also brought out rapper SC Static, whose meticulous flows definitely fit the vibe of the set. The opening set was a short one, with little time songs in between for rest, keeping the energy strong, and allowing the audience to warm up for the rest of the show.
Next were Ill Conscious and his crew, including Dirt Platoon, Omnia Azar and Jay Royale, who came on stage first to hype up the crowd. Royale spent a while yelling at the crowd to up their energy, which seemed to help a little bit. When Ill Conscious finally hit the stage, he performed to his usual quality. Ill Conscious’ incredible flows are impressive to most audiences, with this one being no exception. The rest of the crew performed well, too, with Omnia Azar putting on a star performance with her singing.
Before GZA came to perform, a man who identified himself as Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s eldest brother, RZA and GZA’s cousin, thanked the openers by name, the audience for coming, and then took his place behind the drum set that had been set on stage since before the show began. The band played a few measures of introductory music before the GZA finally graced the stage in front of a full Soundstage.
GZA’s delivery was measured throughout his set. The veteran has clearly been performing for a long time. When he performs his raps, and is not letting the crowd do it for him, he hits every word with solid breath control, and spits his flows to the masses. GZA’s performance is not flashy, that is saved more for the instrumentalists in the band. The Genius prefers to let his bars linger and have people listen to them, rather than jump around the stage trying to impress a crowd at the age of 53.
There are many sources that can point more efficiently toward the impact of the Wu Tang Clan, and even GZA’s specific contribution to it. The cultural significance of the Wu has been cemented for decades, and its members’ individual contributions to the rap game are just as important. This concert marked the celebration of 25 years since the release of GZA’s Liquid Swords, one of the first and most important solo Wu Tang albums. The crowd, and the openers and GZA’s performance for them cements the importance of this anniversary.