Raekwon and Ghostface Killah Celebrate the Anniversary of a Seminal Album

Concert Review

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click to enlarge Raekwon and Ghostface Killah Celebrate the Anniversary of a Seminal Album
Emanuiel Wallace
Twenty years is a mighty long time. To put things in a better perspective, in the summer of 1995, movies like Dangerous Minds, The Usual Suspects and the cult classic Mortal Kombat were all making waves at the box office, Venus and Serena Williams were just turning pro, and Michael Jordan only had three of his six NBA championships.

In the music industry, 20 years is an eternity, especially in today's climate where artists seem to be as disposable as flimsy paper plates. That's why it's important to celebrate and honor the artists that have remained around and managed to have some sort of impact on the culture.

Last night, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah brought the Only Built 4 Cuban Linx tour to the House of Blues. Opening acts Ahptimus and Dillon Cooper were able to hold their own and get the audience warmed up, but if the insane amount of Wu-Tang apparel being worn wasn't indication enough — the crowd was ready to celebrate 20 years of the album that has affectionately come to be known as The Purple Tape. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here

The curtains were opened, revealing a larger-than-life sized backdrop of the album cover as the introductory track, "Striving for Perfection" played in its entirety. Fans eagerly began to put their hands together to form the Wu-Tang symbol and soon thereafter Raekwon would emerge. Wearing a two-piece black and neon green outfit, the emcee went into "Knuckleheadz" and "Knowledge God" before "Criminology," which paved the way for a New York Yankees jacket-sporting Ghostface Killah to take to the stage.

The immensely popular "Ice Cream" and "Glaciers of Ice" followed, with patrons reciting the lyrics line for line as if they'd written the songs themselves. Tunes like "Ice Water" and "Guillotine" weren't as familiar to some, but the die-hard fans didn't seem to miss a beat. Raekwon requested for the lights to be all blue for the Blue Raspberry-assisted "Rainy Dayz" and Ghostface quipped that the two emcees will still be performing 20 years from now with dentures in their mouths in addition to giving a shoutout to the Cavaliers and asking if they'll be back in The Finals next season.

Other songs from OB4CL included "Wisdom Body," "Verbal Intercourse," "Can It Be All So Simple (Remix)" and "Incarcerated Scarfaces" among others. The Wu-Tang canon of material is exceptionally deep and as is such, songs like "Protect Ya Neck," "Wu-Tang Ain't Nothin' to F*ck Wit," "C.R.E.A.M." and "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" all found a way into the show. 

Taking a moment to recall some advice from his mother, Raekwon took the time to remind the audience about the importance of chasing dreams, while Ghostface implored them to pray to whatever deity they happen to believe in. The duo would go on to perform a short dedication to Ol Dirty Bastard that included his songs "Got Your Money" and "Shimmy Shimmy Ya."

The set clocked in somewhere near the 90-minute mark, closing out with "Triumph" from the Wu-Tang Forever album. Before walking off the stage, the two messages that Rae and Ghost wanted to get across were that even though they've been at it for over 20 years, they are by no means washed-up has beens and also that we need to take care of both the elderly and the children.

The vibe in the building was electric from the beginning through the very end as Ghostface signed a fan's vinyl record of his Ironman album while still on stage and Raekwon passed out cups of Hennessy to a few lucky fans in the front row.

So yes, 20 years is indeed a long time. In that span of time, some things come into their own and continue to flourish — like Michael Jordan and the Williams sisters. And in that same span of time, certain entities have aged horribly — like Disney's Operation Dumbo Drop. Luckily, Raekwon's Only Built For Cuban Linx is the former and if he and Ghostface have their way, the legacy will only become greater over the next 20 years.
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