“Wu-Tang Clan”, “Killa Bees”, “the No. 1 hip-hop group of all time”, “the most influential rap group ever”.. you get the idea, Wu-Tang Clan is no stranger to being one of the most respected and notable musical groups in history. While it may not be a glorious as some of their other labels, the New York City crew can now add “Riot Fest headliners” to the mix.
So, what is a hip-hop group doing at a festival chock full of punk, metal, and hardcore bands? Stealing the show, that’s what.
The rain held off all day long, but the clouds finally opened up in the hour leading into Wu-Tang’s headlining performance. Myself along with many of the other photographers were pretty bummed out as we scrambled for trash bags, plastic wrappers, or whatever else we could turn into makeshift rain gear for our cameras. Luckily, dog owners tend to have plastic baggies hidden in all the right places, so I fashioned a green doggy bag (unused of course) over my Canon DSLR to protect my investment from the rain.
Back to Wu-Tang. Growing up in the 90’s, I remember hearing Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) for the first time as a pre-teen in North Carolina and thinking I’d just listened to audio gold. It was so raw, primal, blue collar, and full of aggression; everything that contradicted life as a fortunate white kid playing golf in the suburbs. And I loved it. In fact, I don’t think a song has ever got me as hype as “Triumph” did before junior varsity basketball games, and still to this day it’s on heavy rotation any time I set foot in the gym or need to release some endorphins.
Witnessing the evolution of hip-hop over the past two decades, I’ve always been drawn back to Wu-Tang. I have tremendous respect for RZA; I admire his ability to put emphasis on the lyrical content of the group’s music and his restraint from overproduction in a hip-hop world that has lost touch with it’s roots. This is what makes Wu, Wu. And this is what makes their live performances legendary.
Below is a gallery of photos highlighting Wu-Tang’s performance. I’ll admit, I was initially bummed out about the rain, but with the way these photos turned out, I couldn’t have asked for better circumstances. This was truly one of those once in a lifetime shoots. The gallery is black and white, an ode to a classic. Enjoy.