It was touch and go for a while, as Local 506 and the tour's managers argued over money. Inspectah Deck and company apparently threatened to cancel the show, then offered to play if paid in advance. (The first position would seem to completely undermine the second, don't you think?) While such shenanigans occur at rock shows as well (I saw the Pixies walk out after three songs), with the added security expense and other headaches, it's not surprising 506 owner Glen Boothe said this would be one of the last touring hip-hop acts he books.
Of course the show did finally go on, well after midnight, and was tight. Afu-Ra got the evening started, and Planet Asia got the crowd (a little thin, admittedly) going. Does one need to reiterate how refreshing the booty-shaking vibe is over the motionless stoic set of rock shows? Deck hit the stage at about 1:35 a.m., opening with the classic (if ironic, under the circumstances) Wu track "C.R.E.A.M." (Cash Rules Everything Around Me).
He also rolled through "Assassination Day" and "Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin to Fuck Wit," then delivered a blistering reprise of Old Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," with Deck repeating the "Oh baby I like it raw" line like a shout-out to his dead buddy.
The evening ended with a bang when Deck jumped into the audience for one of his final tracks, which concluded with an impromptu freestyle battle with John G. of the local rap group The Living Dead. It was an explosive end to the evening.
When I talked to Deck last week, he said, "It ain't all about I'm coming there to get my little bit of money. I'm trying--I don't care if it's 200 people in the joint, I'm gonna blast their head. You gonna have something to talk about. Whether it's just 'Yo, saw him there, he wasn't even acting funny, he just kilt the show, did his songs, did his things, partied, jumped in the crowd,' whatever the case may be. Sign autographs, shoot pics, smoke a blunt with them--I'm one of those cats, I'm not into trying to be a superstar, big head dude."
It's a shame, then, that the talk didn't so much resemble the walk. A great show, no doubt, but driven by the kind of grandstanding that undermines rap's credibility.
"Dudes don't respect music in this business because if they did they wouldn't do what they do. You know it's all about a check, man," Deck said.