On the 20th anniversary of their second album Wu-Tang Forever, the Wu-Tang Clan popped champagne and poured the nostalgia for their Governors Ball set on New York’s Randall’s Island on Saturday (June 3).
The set was dressed in quintessentially Wu props including a Shaolin apartments display with the address 160 Park Hill (they grew up in the Park Hills Projects of Staten Island) and a makeshift Chinese restaurant belonging to late member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. RZA, Method Man, Cappadonna, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, U-God, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa warped back to 1993 with the opener “Bring da Ruckus” followed by “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'” and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit” off their debut Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers.
RZA hyped up his fellow Clansmen (who were all clad in yellow and black ensembles), saying, “One thing y’all gotta realize, when you look at Wu-Tang, you’re looking at multi-platinum artists … and that’s all because we took the energy of New York City and we spread it across the world.” As the signature yellow “W” symbol flashed across the Jumbotron, the rap group served straight up bars from the slums of Shaolin for posse cuts like GZA’s “Duel of the Iron Mic,” Raekwon’s “Ice Cream” and the Clan’s “Method Man” (during which the real-life Meth did a trust fall into the crowd).
There was no shortage of classics as the Clan delved into “C.R.E.A.M.” and even covered a snippet of The Beatles‘ unifying anthem, 1969’s “Come Together,” a tour tradition. The crew also brought out ODB’s son, Young Dirty Bastard, who rocked the mic to his father’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Got Your Money.” Another highlight was Method Man asking the crowd to fill in for Redman, who he claimed wasn’t at the venue, for a performance of their 1999 collaboration “Da Rockwilder” only for the Def Squad rapper to emerge.
The collective then paid tribute to their 20-year-old effort Wu-Tang Forever by launching into “Triumph.” The Wu-Tang Clan, however, wanted to end their 70-minute set by taking their fans back even further. “Now we know that album meant a lot to a lot of people in this crowd,” began Method Man. “But that album would’ve never been made if not for this first album [Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers] and this first single.” After putting it to a group vote on-stage following RZA’s recommendation, the MCs performed their breakthrough track “Protect Ya Neck” a cappella. Before saying farewell, RZA urged the crowd to say “Peace” in unison. “We came in peace,” he said. “We gon’ leave in peace.”