Music Review: GZA at the O2 Academy Islington

Review of Wu-Tang legend GZA’s show in Islington

The solo career of GZA the Genius, aka Gary Grice, has been slightly overshadowed by the antics of fellow Wu-Tang Clan members Method Man and ODB.

But a rowdy crowd at the 02 Islington Academy showed that this founder member of the seminal New York hip-hoppers is a massive draw in his own right.

After excellent warm-up performances from UK rapper Micall Parknsun and DJ Spin Doctor, the man himself sauntered on stage in unassuming fashion to an enormous roar from the crowd.

His delivery seemed almost lackadaisical to begin with, but after he shrugged off his hoodie and opened up his larynx, he showed an awesome lyrical flow that harked back to hip hop’s glory years.

Well aware of what the crowd wanted, GZA delivered a quick-fire succession of Wu-Tang classics from the seminal 36 Chambers album.

He then launched into the best of his solo work – Liquid Swords and Shadowboxin’ both sending the crowd into raptures.

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He finished off with two stone-cold classics, Shimmy Shimmy Ya and C.R.E.A.M which left everyone howling for more when he mooched off stage.

Even though he is no spring chicken, GZA looked young and fresh and his rhyming was tight.

A nice touch too was the way he jumped down into the adoring crowd, pounding fists and trying on caps.

Most of the crowd were probably around the 30 mark, and remember 36 Chambers when it came out, but it is still amazing how deep the legacy of the Wu-Tang Clan runs, 20 years after they got together.

* GZA performed at the O2 Academy Islington, in Parkfield Steet, N1, on January 31, 2012.