Special guests and stellar lineup share stage at all-star celebration
Who: Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, De La Soul
Where: Scotiabank Arena
When: Sun., Oct. 1
Vibe: Full-blown block party
Highlight: Huge hip hop singalong to Triumph with beaming Nas side stage and Method Man popping champagne and pouring it into crowd
Rating: NNNN (out of 5)
IT’S A MASSIVE hip hop block party at the Scotiabank Arena as a steady stream of the genre’s royalty moves on and off stage through a long night of hits.
Early arrivals are treated to a short, hit-filled set from De La Soul minus, of course, Trugoy the Dove (David Jolicouer), who passed in 2022. Early in the set, Talib Kweli strides on stage covering Jolicoeur’s verses in De La Soul tracks while also performing his own hits. Kweli’s seemingly “casual” arrival is a first hint of the block party vibe that will dominate the show.
I head back to the concourse, confident Wu-Tang is at least an hour away, expecting a set from Nas next.
It seems 90 per cent of the people in the arena are wearing Wu-Tang merch, some of it spectacular, but the massive lineup to purchase merch that snakes through the concourse is the longest I’ve seen yet at a show.
And just like that, the sounds of Wu-Tang leak from the arena area and I bolt back in, leaving hundreds of Wu fans to miss their faves as they purchase more T-shirts and hoodies.
A live band and DJs now perform on a platform above the stage — as they will all night. RZA stands among the band above the stage, a massive yellow Wu-Tang logo above them, and performs Bang Bang, a riff on a Nancy Sinatra track best known from Kill Bill. After Clan in Da Front, RZA proceeds to introduce his bandmates, who take the stage below him one by one, like players at an All-Star Game, which the show kind of is. GZA is out first and performs Liquid Swords before other Wu-Tang members, major and minor, join him.
Newest member Young Dirty Bastard, son of the late great Ol’ Dirty Bastard, routinely bounces and bounds across the stage throughout what will eventually be three sets from the Wu.
The entire setup and pacing truly mimic a super-cool block party, with performers popping on stage like guests at a mega-jam. It’s also a pep rally and birthday celebration for hip hop itself with MC after MC imploring — often demanding — the crowd celebrates the half-century of the revolutionary sound.
Ghostface Killah and Raekwon all perform mini-sets before “the greatest MC in the world” is introduced and Nas comes out. He joins in performing Verbal Intercourse before the Wu members leave and Nas plays a short, hit-filled set.
Like a good party, the show never stops and players move on and off stage after playing mini-sets. After Wu-Tang reassume control of the stage and Speed Racer videos run on the big screen, the until-now-unseen Method Man is introduced to major screams and even shrieks of approval.
Nas’s later return to the stage is announced with a clip from the ’90s film Belly, which featured him, DMX and Method Man, while Soul II Soul plays on the speakers. His crowd-pleasing set wraps with his mega-hit If I Ruled the World before Wu-Tang reclaim the stage one more time with the crowd determinedly singing along with the hits. The set comes to a euphoric, chaotic close with the band’s anthem Triumph, before Nas bounds on stage one last time to join the Wu in closing the show with One Mic triumphantly wrapping over three hours of almost nonstop tunes.