If hip-hop has aged like fine wine, the Wu Tang Clan and Nas are two of the genre’s most well-versed sommeliers. The bold, one-of-a-kind flavor of RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killa, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa and Cappadonna combined with the slow, smooth, and irresistible flow of Nas created a pairing as germane to the genre as rhymes themselves. And with the backdrop of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, a true celebration of hip-hop’s place in music folklore took form for a special performance that put everyone in a “New York State of Mind.”
The artists are on their “New York State of Mind” tour.
But it’s important to understand the true roots of a moment like this for rappers who seamlessly matriculated through what was arguably the most vicious period of hip-hop and lived to keep telling their stories unscathed. As two of the genre’s pioneering marque acts, Wu-Tang and Nas represent not only the roots of hip-hop but the dream of it.
“We’re really at the Hard Rock all because of this hip hop s***,” Method Man said to the crowd, who braved the last days of a Florida summer to see the acts perform alongside legendary rap group De La Soul.
“Can you believe this, man?” he added.
While reflecting on the essence of rap, Queensbridge’s finest could not help but remark on the gravity of still rocking crowds nearly three decades after the release of his debut album Illmatic.
“My story could be completely different, so much different. I’m here because of a microphone,” Nas said.
Much like hip-hop itself, both Wu-Tang and Nas have crossed over to become bigger than their music. From TV shows to clothing lines and investment portfolios, the New York emcees have expanded alongside the genre without moving away from its origins. A feat accomplished by very few pioneers of rap, but widely enjoyed by many of hip-hop’s newcomers.
“At Hard Rock, we believe music is a language that brings the world closer together. It’s part of our DNA,” said Keith Sheldon, president of Entertainment at Hard Rock International. “As Hard Rock continues to evolve, just as music does, it’s unmistakable how hip-hop has impacted our brand over the years.”
But at the core of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is a story that brings the experiences of two of the most misunderstood communities in this country together.
“Our culture, our home, and our way of life joined us together,” a statement on their website reads. “We defended our homes and our people, and we became a refuge for those who sought freedom from conquest and slavery. For this, we were seen as a threat.”
From the Seminole Tribe of Florida, to the streets of Staten Island where the members of Wu-Tang connected, down to the cracked pavement of Queens where Nas painted pictures with prose, the spirit of hip-hop — that undeniable, unrelenting, bold refusal to be defined by the fears and biases of others — permeates.
“We for the people who love real hip-hop,” RZA said.
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Source: Black Enterprise