We arrived at BB King’s relatively early. Early enough to grab a table and get some motherfuckin’ table service. A quick cab ride down to Times Square and there we were. Although the show didn’t sell out, a large and diverse crowd was on hand buzzing with excitement. Everyone was here for one reason and one reason only, to see Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu-Tang Clan perform live. Back in ’95 when Brooklyn Zoo first hit the airwaves, ODB set the entire industry ablaze with his drunken no holds barred flow. But that was nine years ago. More recently we’ve seen a more somber Dirt McGirt, mostly photographed in an orange jumpsuit, splitting time between jail, rehab and on the run from the law. For a while fans were unsure what would be next, a new album or a new reality show?
As we sat sipping beers, eating a ten dollar order of eight wings, I pondered the outcome of the next few hours. After about 45 minutes the lights dimmed and the opening act took stage. His name was Mims, hailing from the independent record label Push Play and in pursuit of a major deal Mims had already secured airplay on Hot 97 (NYC), WBOT (Boston) and KYLD (San Francisco), among other stations. While it was apparent that this cat had some skills, his overstated case for pop appeal reflected poorly in the final product. Although the single I Did You Wrong is potentially a catchy club banger to be, the absence of any material with any sort of substance was really what did Mims wrong. If this dude focused his energy on Hip-Hop he could be dangerous. Still, not a horrible opening act. Mims seemed undaunted as several fans shouted “Fuck this shit, put on Dirty!” in between songs.
After about 45 minutes or so, Mims thanked the crowd, receiving a fair amount of applause and made his way off stage. The lights remained dim but no sign of Dirty. We waited and wondered. Was he even here? Would he be here in the next hour or so? When was he scheduled to go on? Drinking more beers we struggled to get the waiter’s attention. Then, a breakthrough; through the cracked open door to the side of the stage several individuals could now be seen pacing back and forth, gesturing with their hands and creating somewhat of a commotion. Now it was only a matter of time!
Wearing a zipped up Team Roc baseball jacket ODB stormed onto the stage to the delight of the crowd. Throw those W’s up! Throw those W’s up! He commanded. Wu-Tang!!! Wu-Tang!!! Wu-Tang!!! Erupted the crowd. Many fans could be seen holding up both hands with thumbs interlocking, pointing their fingers outward to form the W. Throw those R’s up! Now this was a little different. R’s? Who the fuck for? Was Jay-Z in the building? How the fuck do you throw up an R? muttered a confused fan standing next to me. No R’s went up. Nobody gave a fuck about that. That’s not why they were here. ODB may now be a Roc-A-Fella artist but this was a Wu-Tang show.
Joined on stage by Budda Monk, 62nd Assassin and several other Wu affiliates, Dirty wasted no time in breaking into some newly arranged material for his upcoming 3rd LP. Pausing to plug his new album while taking sips out of a small plastic bottle of Poland Spring, Dirt McGirt had the crowd in a frenzy each time his raspy voice projected through the speakers. Compared to Mims, this was night and day. Although to his credit Mims was a virtual unknown and had to work hard just to get the crowd’s attention. Midway through his set Dirty conceded the spotlight to his entourage, retreating to the back of the stage while Budda Monk and 62nd Assassin kept the Wu fans occupied trading hot verses of their own. “I got nothing but love for everyone in here,” declared 62nd Assassin, his statement met with loud cheers.
After a few minutes Dirty made his way back to the front; it was now time for the classics. Flawlessly performing Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Got Your Money and Brooklyn Zoo, Dirt McDirt sounded no less convincing and crazy than he does on record. In case you are wondering, that’s a good thing. Then it all ended as abruptly as it had begun. Bidding the fans farewell Dirty and his entourage disappeared through an exit at the rear of the stage as the crowd continued to chant relentlessly O-D-B!!! O-D-B!!! O-D-B!!! The suspense lasted for three or four minutes as many anxiously anticipated Dirt McGirt’s return. However, they got Budda Monk instead. “I didn’t wanna leave in the first place”, said Budda Monk making his way back on stage. 62nd Assassin and the rest of the crew quickly followed suit.
While Dirty never returned, the extended Wu-Tang family performed for close to another hour, making sure no fans went home hungry. In all, a great show. While I may have preferred a slightly longer set from Hip-Hop’s twisted genius, I recognize the fact that it was quality over quantity and ODB did put on a good show. Still, it would have been nice to hear Shame On A Nigga, even if it was just the first verse.