Grand Rapids hip-hop fanatics crowded into the Pyramid Scheme to see a legend, but first a few openers took the spotlight. The Convotronics and Meyhem Lauren primed the stage but nothing could compare to the presence of GZA, The Genius.
GZA came on stage and the audience welcomed him excitedly chanting “Wu Tang!” and “Wu Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with!” Once he started spittin’ bars it became clear that a good amount of people knew all the words to his tracks. Others who likely came out because they saw a Wu Tang shirt in a Hot Topic storefront stood astonished, unprepared for the legendary music they were about to witness. Nobody left this show without creating a permanent place for GZA in their hearts and on their playlists.
A young man clad in a black do-rag and a Wu Tang shirt was front and center in the audience, rapping along to every single song. At one point, GZA was about three-fourths of the way through a song and he stopped and he told the dude playing his beats to start the track over. He looked confused but did as he was told, then as the song started again GZA invited the young man in the audience up on stage to rap the whole song! He happily did it without missing a beat. It was cool that GZA pulled up a real hip-hop fan and not just a hot girl with a nice ass.
Unlike many performers, before the beat started for each track GZA didn’t waste his time talking. He generally rapped important verses a capella from the next song he planned to perform. He made sure that we were really hearing what he was saying. GZA put so much intention into each word he shared with the audience. He even took the time to pay homage to Old Dirty Bastard (O.D.B.) by performing a few of his verses. The crowd went wild screaming “Baby I like it raw!” loud enough to shake O.D.B. in his grave.
Needless to say, GZA at fifty years old put on a better show than twenty-something rappers do any day. The Wu Tang clan has created hip-hop classics that have undoubtedly stood the test of time. But I guess that’s why they call him GZA, The Genius.