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Method Man mania in Toronto [Photos/Review]

Toronto, ON – On Thursday night, Wu-Tang’s first solo artist came swinging through Toronto like a liquid sword to the throat of wack ass, shit talking, modern day rap “fashionistas” (as Method Man accurately described them) and absolutely smashed a rowdy crowd of a thousand T-Dot killa bee maniacs. Wu-Tang disciples of all kinds came out their hoods, caves, projects, condos and slums to get high off Meth, and it was a delight to behold. Especially considering he doesn’t have a new video, movie, or project to promote, it was very telling to see the nearly two-hour tribute to true school hip hop music unfold for the ecstatic audience to absorb and unleash back into Mef, Streetlife and DJ Allah Mathematics. Black, White, Asian, young, old, street, suburban and others together, all throwing up their “W’s” in unison certified Toronto as one of the most unstoppable Wu-Tang outposts on earth, apart from Staten Island itself.

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Just before midnight, Method Man danced out onstage, and proceeded to ride the wave of energy and thick marijuana smoke to levels of excitement that were both expected and beyond expectation. Method Man’s unpredictable attack was consistently engaging as his natural charisma and refreshing wit kept the concert moving, even when he wasn’t rocking songs everyone knew. He wouldn’t stop dancing, for one thing. He kept smiling and cracking jokes, and by the end of the show, he simply did not want to leave the stage, as the loud love and electric screams reminded him that at a certain point in time, nothing in the world matters except rocking the microphone right over some ill motherfuckin’ beats, which he did without question. But to the experienced eye, there was a lot to learn from seeing a veteran like Method Man murder the city of Toronto with a strategic style of showmanship slaughter. School is in session:
Nine Lessons from Hot Nikkels.

1. True hip hop bangers feel good forever, no matter if there is a new album coming or not.

“Bring the Pain” always makes people jump, scream, growl, and sparks a hip hop mosh pit like few songs.

2. Women into Wu-Tang are the possibly more open-minded than the average b-girl.

After rocking the eternally-hot hook for “Ice Cream” and enciting a great crowd chant, Method Man reminded everyone why Hollywood wanted his charm so badly (for a few years, before they tried using Mos Def too). When the song was over, he said “All my fellas that are into good pussy, make some noise!” which received a medium-sized response. Hilariously, Meth then quizzically furrowed his brow at the guys and repeated “Whoa, c’mon now! Are there any guys here that are into good pussy?!” which received a larger reply. Then Method Man said to Streetlife “Now watch this, man: HOW MANY GIRLS IN HERE ARE INTO GOOD PUSSY?!?” Which received a surprisingly-inspiring reply from a numerous amount of ladies in the crowd. Then he said to Streetlife: “Okay, go grab HER and HER, and bring her backstage, and go get HER…”, pointing at the girls who screamed for good pussy. Ha ha. It’s little things like that, that separate him from the average MC telling girls to say “oww”.

3. It’s a good look to remember where you came from, no matter how far you’ve come.

Method Man treats his old school fans with respect and honor. After asking “Who got my first album, ‘Tical’?” and hearing a decent roar from the crowd, he joked “Yo, I know some of y’all wasn’t even born when I put that shit out!” Then he began an interesting segment: His Favorite Songs off each of his albums. For ‘Tical’, he then got gully as fuck and performed the classic Wu-banger “What the Bloodclot”. Shit sounded as fucking ill today as it did in 1994.

4. Even when the crowd ain’t loving it, performing the song with passion and conviction can turn a regular track into a great moment. And the right hype man can make a great moment a spectacular one.

At one point, Meth goes, “This is one of my favorite songs to perform! Ya’ll ready to rock with me?!” and the crowd sounded ready. But when the beat for “Fallout” dropped, not everyone was as happy as Clifford Smith was. Still, the enthusiastic way Method Man constantly bopped and boogied to it, and each one of his songs, with careless glee as he was rapping, making every moment more entertaining to watch unfold. There were also moments where Streetlife would do a two-step shuffle in tandem with Method Man, and their camaraderie enhanced the song above and beyond the sum of its parts. It’s the little things that show that a professional can handle transitions and silence with level-headed awareness.

5. Toronto is a lethal Wu-Tang Killa Bee Colony.

I’ve seen quite a few Wu-Tang Clan concerts in my life, both as a group, and various solo artists. I’ve seen GZA perform all of “Liquid Swords” on the same stage Method Man was rocking that night at Sound Academy, plus seen GZA rock it yet another time. In the back stage of Sound Academy, I was there when Raekwon did his first show after the infamous Joe Buddens black eye incident a few years back. And each one of these concerts had one thing in common: UNCONTROLLABLE WU-TANG MANIA AT FULL BLAST. No matter how popular the Wu-Tang artists might be in hip hop in general, when they come to Toronto, they are treated like Billboard royalty, every time. This show was no exception. Method Man was showered in praise and admiration by the audience, and they rapped to virtually every song he performed, if not participated in the choruses or chants of “say ‘Wu-Tang!’” and “can I get a ‘Suuuuuu!’” that he requested. Near the end of the show, Meth stopped everything to definitively state: “Toronto, I love this city. Every time I come here, y’all show me love, and show Wu-Tang love. Y’all are one of the best cities for hip hop.” He went on to give shoutouts to his favorite Canadian MCs Saukrates, Kardinal Offishall. And apparently, Method Man really enjoys Choclair: “Ha ha, “Let’s Ride” that was my shit!” he uttered, as he started singing the melody to the Kardinal-produced hit song. Method Man took a definitive moment to also say “I want to give a big co-sign to Toronto’s own Drake. I love that MC, and y’all should too, because Drake got 85 percent of the artists in America biting his flow, and he’s from Toronto! Y’all better show that guy love, because I do.” Say no more. Considering he didn’t want to get of stage for the last 20 minutes of his show illustrates how much he enjoyed himself at the show as much as the insane audience did.

6. Eternally special energy exists in an ODB tribute, and it’s even more sacred when Russell Jones’s son, the young God Ason Unique, is in house.

Method Man has the dignity to do something divine in his concerts. He said: “Every show we dedicate a segment to those who ain’t here. Tonight we are going to dedicate it to DJ Megatron and Nate Dogg.” A nice touch. Soon after, he said “We also are going to NOT mourn the death of my brother, ODB, but we are going to celebrate his life!” as an unbelievable chant of “O! D! B!” was set off for what could have been 36 seconds. The invincible raw rhythm of “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” then sparked the crowd into a rabid, rhyme-along frenzy, before the same happened for “Brooklyn Zoo”. Then we were blessed by the presence of Big Baby Jesus’s son Ason Unique, lookin fresh’ with a punk rock Mohawk and an ODB-as-Obama t-shirt, as he joined Method Man on stage and performed the hook for “Got Your Money”. Moments like that make a Wu-Tang show in Toronto something amazing beyond words.

7. Acrobatics makes for an entertaining evening, turning the average into above and beyond.

When the ‘Tical:2’ hit song “Judgement Day” came on, I’m not even sure Method Man was rapping much of it. But he did leap off the stage and crowd surf… multiple times. Getting passed around like a blunt at Cypress Hill concert, Meth floated on the upstretched hands of the audience as everyone in the first few dozen rows carried on raw concert tradition faithfully. It was the most amazing when the final time he went crowd surfing, Method Man did a FULL FRONT FLIP into the audience. Head over heels somersault, not just a face first swan dive (which was also pretty damn brave). And the crowd caught him, and screamed. Absolute insanity.

8. Having a vinyl selector as an element of a hip hop show is a touch that never goes out of style.

DJ Allah Mathematics took the question “Can I Kick It?” to another level with his turntable routine that night. It’s great to see an MC rock a sequenced, tight show with a true school DJ, and this concert was no exception. When it came time for the turntablist segment and for DJ Allah Mathematics to cut it up on the 1’s and 2’s, he was getting busy slicing some vinyl into shreds, doing a decent job of murdering the wax and getting the crowd amped. He then started losing his rhythm for a second, and Method Man told him to keep it together. Then out of nowhere, he took his clunky ass Timbaland boots off his feet, put them on his hands, and got his timing back, scratching his turntables with his boots on his hands. The crowd went bananas. He then flung the boots off onto the stage, kept the routine going, and then stood up on a chair, and started scratching with his hands, while manipulating the crossfader with his feet, still in his socks. In case anyone was wondering: yes, he can.

9. Respectable selection of records from the crates and chambers of Johnny Blaze always work.

“Say Yes”, Meth’s ode to the 4080 music industry syndrome resonated even louder to this day (the last Canadian that Method Man shouted out was Justin Bieber… then he dissed him jokingly, and then retracted his statement fully, saying “he’s my labelmate, and I don’t want to get in trouble, ha ha!”), his then-frustration with the corruption in the rap game was eventually justified by the semi-self-destruction of his once-glorious label. When Meth asked everyone to sing along to Lauryn Hill’s chorus “with their middle fingers in the air”, the song still hit hard, and every line still stung. And no matter what generation is listening to it, the song “M.E.T.H.O.D. Man” will be an explosive hip hop anthem until the end of time. When it dropped, the crowd went absolutely apeshit. And watching Method Man do his infamous Jesus Walk on the hands of the faithful, supportive Toronto crowd during the last song, “The Rockwilder” was a spectacular finale to an unforgettable show.

Written by by Addi ‘Mindbender” Stewart for HipHopCanada
Photography by Ajani Charles for HipHopCanada
Video by Stolen From Africa for HipHopCanada

Photography by Ajani Charles

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Live Review/Photos - Method Man (Wu-Tang Clan) in Toronto

Video by Stolen From Africa

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Ajani Charles is a professional photojournalist, advertising photographer and cinematographer based in Toronto -- the Canadian city famed for its cultural diversity and the creative dynamism of its artistic community. A graduate of the nationally acclaimed Claude Watson Arts Program, Ajani also apprenticed at the Toronto School of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and at 235 Films. Though his images bear the distinctive stamp of his unique regard and sensibility, his work evidences an eclectic panoply of influences which includes Markus Klinko and Indrani, Jill Greenberg, Yousuf Karsh, Ansel Adams, Alexander Rodchenko, Richard Avedon, Nabil Elderkin, André Kertesz, David LaChapelle, Steven Spielberg, Hype Williams, Zack Snyder, Martin Scorsese, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz and Jamel Shabazz. Ajani is also the founder and executive director of The Young Visionaries – a Toronto-based photography and cinematography program, providing education to youth from the city’s priority neighborhoods. In addition, Ajani has gained considerable notoriety in the Greater Toronto Area through his first photographic documentary, “Project T Dot” -- a visual chronicle of the city's Hip-Hop culture and community in its entirety through a wide-ranging collection of intimate and dramatic black and white photographs. In production since 2007, “Project T Dot” is currently scheduled for an early 2015 publication date.

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