Kevin Winter, Getty Images T.I. and Lil Wayne are teaming up once again, only this…
- Posted on Jun 22nd 2009 2:15PM by Drew Berner
GZA, aka Gary Grice, rocked a crowd of thousands at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to mark the end of another NXNE, giving everyone who showed up for the free show exactly what they wanted. The old-school traditionalists got a set heavy with classics from the Wu-Tang catalog and his seminal album 'Liquid Swords,' while new-school fans were thrilled by the now-ubiquitous presence of King Khan, who brought his dime-store guitar to the stage for a handful of tracks.
The show opened with the classic '4th Chamber,' and the laid-back beat and Khan's twangy guitar built excitement from the start. Other highlights of the woefully short 40-minute set included 'Liquid Swords,' the call-and-response of 'Clan in Da Front' and a tribute to fallen comrade Ol' Dirty Bastard on his classic 'Shimmy Shimmy Ya.'
Just as satisfying as the ageless rhymes was GZA's appreciation for the fans who came to see him. When the organizers told him he had five more minutes, he brushed them off and did 10, and when the set finished, he spent several more minutes shaking hands and signing autographs.
When he finally left the stage, clearly exhausted and deserving of a rest, hands rose throughout the crowd to form Wu-Tang "W" symbols out of respect for the rap legend.
The Cool Kids took a totally different tack to their set, evoking images of old-time comedy duos with the onstage banter and back-and-forth rhyming. Where GZA draws fans who were listening to rap in the early '90s, Cool Kids attract kids who were born in the early '90s.
Their music references the hip hop '80s, when rapping about parties and girls was the name of the game, so it wasn't surprising that the composition of the crowd itself changed drastically between sets. The hip-hop heads were replaced by legions who looked like they'd stepped out of a Bobby Brown video or an episode of 'In Living Color' -- all high-top fades, neon outfits and retro Run-DMC glasses.
The duo -- Chuck Inglish and Mickey Rocks -- ran through the entirety of their EP and mixtape onstage, earning plenty of appreciation from the crowd. Tracks like '88' and 'Black Mags' got the most noise, while their slow-and-low beats had the folks dancing in the streets.
And then, just like that, their set was over, and with it went another NXNE. But fans couldn't have asked for a better closing show than GZA and Cool Kids. It was free, it was mixed up and it was awesome. And that's pretty much what NXNE is all about.