Raekwon - HMV Forum, London 18/03/11
The 405 brought in the weekend with the sweet taste of Courvoisier on Friday night. Pre-gaming on the smoothly cemented curb of Kentish Town high street, the surrounding area begins to hum with the electricity of Friday night.
Entering the tarnished wooden doors of the HMV forum, the stage room teems with a scattered collection of rag-tag urbanites, and low-slung hooded characters. The cumbersome lights above shine brilliantly, and the room is enveloped in a warm amber glow.
A sudden crackling is emitted from the sound system, and the lights plunge the room into a shade of midnight blue. Jump starting the procession into action, Living Proof DJ's strut onto the stage. Occupying the platform like a pack of wolves, the four-strong gang engages the crowed with a carnivorous sense of eye contact. With their chests flexed outwards, they handle their microphones with the furtive grip of a switch-blade. A rampant drumbeat begins to unfold from the speakers, as Living Proof begins to reel out reams of harshly spit rhymes.
Aptly amped and churning with a raucous sense of vigor, the bodies in the crowed fire their fists into the air as DJ 279 addresses the turntable deck. Sporting a large fitting athletic jersey, he deftly removes a Wu-Tang vinyl from his record bag. With a playful smile fixed in the corner of his mouth, he places the vinyl's cover between each of his turntables.
As he does this, the emblematic Wu-Tang symbol is revealed, forming the stage's focal point. A second set of ceiling lights is engaged, and the room is bathed in a veil of blood red. Summoned by the cacophonous jeering from the crowed, Raekwon slowly steps onto the stage.
Clasping an inordinately thick microphone piece close to his chest, the lights above reveal the worn denim patches on his large denim shirt. Loosely placing his beanie on the top of his head, the anthemic introduction to 'C.R.E.A.M.' blares from the speakers as he cries "whas up London!?".
In the heat of a booze-fuelled outburst, the bodies in the crowed bounce aggressively as Raekwon marks the start of his Shoalin vs Wu-tang tour. Bringing the microphone to his mouth, he elevates his chin with the pride of a lion preparing for combat. Behind him, DJ 279 sets the bar and plays the highly acclaimed 'Criminology'. An artillery of trumpets sound, as the infectious drone of a classic Wu-Tang drum beat is pumped into the air. With the blink of an eye Raekwon snaps into an animated state. Raising a muscular arm to the air, he proceeds to dispense exhaustingly complex sentences using effortlessly vocalized rhymes. Absorbing the nuclear heat radiating from the crowed; Raekwon darts urgently to the left and right of the stage. Innately aligning his head movements with the rhythm of DJ 279's drum samples, he nourishes his fans attention by vehemently asking them who "who be feeling Built For Cuban Links Pt II!?!".
The evening is taken to fever pitch when the gritty basslines of 'Black Mozart' rumble from the speakers. A series of haunting synth loops hang in the air, and the bodies in the pit pay homage as they chant "better get that money, no matter what you do" in union.
With his microphone set to disarm, Raekwon captivates the hearts and minds his audience with his awe sticking display of militant rhyming capabilities. The verdict: a sensational night where concrete laden urban beats collide with lethally spun lyricism. If words are weapons, then ladies and gentlemen we have a new heavy weight lyrical champion!