The Wu-Tang Clan capped off the 2011 Village Voice and Frank 151 Showdown at SXSW in Austin last night (March 17) with the precision of New York Yankees’ relief pitcher Mariano Rivera. The Killa Beez didn’t swarm the stage until 1 a.m.—they were scheduled to perform at 11:45—but the crowd had enough stellar performances to tide them over until then, and they had an extra special guest to make up for it.
First up was embattled Houston rapper Trae Tha Truth. You might remember his continued struggles with Radio One not playing his anything in his catalog. But that made the jam-packed crowd no never mind, as they sang along to “In The Hood,” “Inkredible” and “No Help” as if they were radio anthems.
2011 XXL Freshman Yelawolf commandeered the stage after Trae, igniting the crowd with his trademark rapid fire machine gun delivery on hits like “Trunk Muzik,” “Good To Go” and “Box Chevy” and from his mega-popular mixtape, Trunk Muzik.
Fishbone was the most curious addition to the hip-hop heavy showcase, but after initial technical difficulties with setup, the Andy Warhol-wigged lead singer Angelo Moore led the alt rock collective through “Everyday Sunshine” from the group’s biggest album to date, The Reality of My Surroundings.
Last, but certainly not least, was Shaolin Island’s finest. The Wu hit the stage one by one: first U-God, then Inspectah Deck, followed by Masta Killa, Cappadonna, GZA and then Ghostface Killah, each prompting the throng to engage in the Wu-Tang call-and-response. It was an immediately anticlimactic for the crowd, though, when it became apparent that neither Method Man, Raekwon nor RZA would take the stage (their absenteeism was not explained). The thick stench of disappointment could’ve been cut with a knife.
But the remaining group members soldiered on, cycling through their biggest singles from the certified classic debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers): “Clan in Da Front,” “Ice Cream” and “Protect Ya Neck.” GZA then served up the title track from his critically acclaimed release, Liquid Swords. U-God kept it moving with “Dats Gangsta,” while the rest of the Clan ducked in and out of songs, finishing each other’s lines. But it was Ghostface who kept the crowd engaged with his tongue-in-cheek, non-sequitur-filled flow from his catalog of guest spots on hits like “Fish,” “Criminology 2.5” and “C.R.E.A.M.” The frosting on the cake, though, was when special guest Erykah Badu herself hit the stage to lend her vocals on “Cherchez LaGhost” from Ghostdeini’s sophomore LP, Supreme Clientele.
After the Wu’s set peaked with the shorthanded crew contributing their 16s to “Triumph,” Badu, aka DJ Lo Down Loretta Brown, rocked the crowd with some serious spins on the 1s and 2s into the wee hours of the morning. —Maurice Bobb
View photos from the show below courtesy of Xphactor. Shout out to Matt Solanza of AustinSurreal.