October 17, 2022 Review by Jose Johnny Corona, Jr.
The Wu-Tang Clan has repeatedly set the world afire since they released their 1993 debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” and their run has been nothing short of legendary; with a solid discography, a Grammy nomination, and more than 11 million albums sold worldwide. Co-headliner Nas has also had his share of the limelight. From the start of Nas’ career and the release of his debut album, “Illmatic,” in 1994, Nas has been one of the most influential rappers to slay the game. Anytime Nas has taken the stage, all he needs is one mic to captivate the audience with his lyrical rapture!
The NY State of Mind Tour came to FivePoint Amphitheatre and straight up brought New York to Irvine. The evening was warm with a slight breeze, and everywhere you looked, there were Wu logos! This was truly a gathering of the masses that came to pay respects to the Wu-Tang Clan.
As doors opened and the concertgoers walked in, we could hear local radio station 93.5 KDAY’s DJ playing “Don’t Sweat the Technique.” Fans started to buy merch, food and brews, while others began to play cornhole, laugh, and banter. It felt like Wu family everywhere you went. The DJ beat breaks, someone shouts “Wu!” and another group responds, “Tang!” People on both sides threw up the Wu and shouted “Wu-Tang Forever!” This felt straight out of a movie.
I made my way to my seat as fans visited the Jack Daniel’s booth to take selfies. Party vibes were in the air, along with the bomb food smells of warm pretzels and pub cheese. From the food to the brews, there were smiles all around.
I met a father and his sons who were there for Wu, but were extra excited to see Nas. One son in his early 20s said he was able to recite most of “Illmatic” by the time he was three, and now, here he is, grown up and with his dad and brothers, ready for an epic show.
It was at this time I learned this would be a real NY style hip-hop show… Busta Rhymes was performing! I was amped for this news. Since hitting the scene with Leaders of the New School, Busta has led the way with his unique style.
Once the show started, it never stopped; there was no intermission. It was a real New York style show.
The NY State of Mind Tour spans 25 cities and gives us a mere glimpse into the careers of some of the most influential MCs to grace the stage. DJ Scratch took us on an educational tour of New York via tunes. Playing music from all the boroughs that made hip hop what it has become.
The show went back and forth between the Wu-Tang and Nas, with Busta Rhymes having short guest appearances in between. Wu-Tang and Nas went back-to-back and toe-to-toe, coming at each other, and perfectly running through a variety of heavy hits that felt like we were getting pummeled by Mike Tyson.
Nas brought it with hits like “New York State of Mind,” “The World Is Yours,” “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” “Made You Look,” “Hate Me Now,” and “If I Ruled the World,” which was brilliantly mixed with Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
The stage gave us New York with the Statue of Liberty on one side, and huge monitors that showed rapid-fire scenes from 1990s NYC that drew you in and kept ya locked! The time seemed to stand still as the show fell short of three hours.
What I loved most about the event was the consistency and fluidity of the entire show. It was a game of chess when most shows are playing checkers. Witnessing the abbot himself overseeing his production, being executed properly. I mean, how the heck do you get that many different personalities to put their egos aside to play a particular role for the betterment of the crews?
I also really loved the NY style of a show with no breaks. Constant pressure, constant movement. Each emcee positively contributed to each other from one track to the next. It was smooth, instead of yelling over each other on the mics, and using songs where they featured each other to transition between acts. The RZA started the Wu set, introducing each of the MCs and telling the story of Wu through hits like “Protect Ya Neck,” “Can It Be All So Simple,” and “C.R.E.A.M.” Then slicing in Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse” to flow into the Nas set. Step in Busta Rhymes.
Busta took us into a magical fast ride that sounded like beat machine methodically cutting though his rhymes like hot steel through butter. At one point, he let us know the sounds you hear on the record are the same sounds you hear onstage, as he proceeded to spit verses faster than the mic could take it.
Wu-Tang gave tribute to O.D.B. thru Young Dirty Bastard and gave us a glimpse of the magic behind the unique style he brought. With everyone onstage, Busta let us know, “This tour, and everyone on the stage represents 30 years of friendship.
Thirty years of brotherhood. Thirty years of upholding the integrity of this hip-hop shit. Thirty years of learning as we went along. Now we’ve mastered it. Y’all are really in trouble with what we’re about to do.”
Many times hip-hop shows can be the worst with hype men with mics that are too hot and emcees fighting for time, yelling over each other. Bad sound boys who let the box get too distorted to understand. This show did not have any of that bullshit!
Simply said. Busta killed it with energy. Nas killed it with class. Wu-Tang absolutely murdered.