City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Raekwon, The Liquid Room, Review


By Euan Andrews - Posted on 29 March 2011

4
Raekwon Courtesy of Liquid Rooms
Show Details
Venue: 
The Liquid Room

Raekwon has a new CD out. It’s called “Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang”. We know that because he’s exhorting us constantly to go out and buy it. He teases us with little snippets of new tracks, before suggesting, in as coy a manner as he’s likely to assume, that if we want to hear the rest, we’ll “have to buy the motherfucking album”.

He even demands a show of hands at one point, “Who here’s gonna buy Shaolin Vs Wu-Tang”, and an army of ageing B-boy arms’ fill the air. It’s a bit like witnessing an overtly aggressive marketing lecture. I keep thinking a PowerPoint demonstration will start up behind Raekwon, displaying graphs linked to future productivity and potential sales figures for upcoming ventures.

The Liquid Room is justifiably packed tonight. Raekwon’s reputation as one of the original Wu-Tang Clan members should merit nothing less. His performance is very much “Old School”. Eschewing any of Hip-Hop’s current diluting dalliances with mainstream pop, Raekwon is onstage and on the mic alone with only DJ Symphony on the turntables, plus a shambling, smiling Bez-like fella who doesn’t seem to do very much except shamble and smile. Raekwon refers to him as H2O, a title which realises its function later in the gig when this kind gentleman fetches small tumblers of water for parched front row punters.

With a cameraman dogging his every move, Raekwon certainly looks the part of old school MC. Nothing in the way of bling, and decked out in baggy jeans with a beanie hat pulled down over his head, he looks like he could have just stepped out of “the projects” with a brown bottle in his hand. In keeping with this image, he states that tonight is going to be “motherfucking hip-hop for real, like in ‘93”, which certainly pleases his vintage and mainly male audience. Tracks start and stop in small snatches, sometimes only a brief chorus or snippet of rhyming, before crashing to a halt with a sound FX barrage of klaxons and explosives.

Raekwon announces how he sees the same urban deprivation in Scotland as he does back home in Staten Island, “nothing on the streets here but liquor stores”, which must come as a surprise to the proprietors of the artisan cheese shops and dress makers directly outside on Victoria Street. However, he’s clearly keen to make some kind of connection with his Scottish brethren.

Later on, he drags a lady from the audience and asks where she’s from: “Wishaw!” she bellows at him. Looking surprised and somewhat befuddled by a Scottish east coast accent, Raekwon stares at her disbelievingly and shouts back, “You’re from RUSSIA”? “Naw”, she yells back, “WISHAW”! It’s like a Hip-Hop sketch from Last of the Summer Wine. Now Raekwon thinks someone’s taking the mick and he glares down at the audience, also now roaring for Wishaw, and demands they don’t disrespect him.

One final blast of “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin’ To Fuck With” and it’s all over, bar increasingly desperate requests for us all to make for the merchandising stall once Raekwon and his crew leave the stage (“Yo, buy my motherfucking T-shirts”).

It’s been a fun hour of bluster, noise and some furious backing from DJ Symphony, but ultimately has felt more like a promotional appearance than a performance. I can’t help feeling that later on, after everyone has left, Raekwon is going to be backstage totting up precisely how many CDs and T-shirts he’s sold.