On Friday night, Raekwon ‘The Beat Chef’ of the legendary Wu Tang Clan made another stop to the west coast and Vancouver’s Venue Nightclub. The Chef has been playing Vancity solo or alongside his Wu brethren for decades and his fondness for this city is obvious when seeing him on stage. He has a genuine affinity for Vancouver that goes beyond our bounty of high grade bud (although that of course cannot be overlooked).
You really have to respect a guy who has achieved a great deal of fame in a genre that is littered with bravado and posturing and yet still comes off humble and grateful about it all. There was not a lot of exchange with the audience because of his tightly condensed set, but in those moments of calm before delivering a lyrical storm, Raekwon showed true passion in his words. He spoke on what it means to be a poet, finding a way of dealing with rough times through music, making it with Wu Tang and then making it on his own and even why he isn’t afraid to cry. It was some pretty deep stuff compared to most live hip hop I’ve witnessed over the years. Let’s just say those shows were short on class and long on crass.
The Beat Chef kicked off the night with Ice Cream from his 1995 classic debut LP Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx. The room really got hot when Raekwon paid tribute to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard with his smash hit Shimmy Shimmy Ya. The slow burning Cuban Lynx jam Heaven and Hell and the Wu Tang ballad Can It Be All So Simple gave the crowd a chance to chill a bit before the night’s proceedings came to a rousing end with Wu classics C.R.E.A.M and Triumph off the groundbreaking Enter The Wu 36 Chambers. The legendary emcee led the loving crowd in one final sign of peace and exited the stage to fans chanting his name.
Raekwon’s twenty plus year hip hop resume does the talking for him. He knows he has the stuff. The need to boast just isn’t there. His flow is off the charts but the man is down to earth. Still going. Still growing.
His seventh solo album, Fly International Luxurious Art is out now.
+ Gavin Reid