It has been who knows how long since Raekwon performed in the city of London, Ontario. Friday January 20th was an evening to remember as the Unexpected Tour made its first stop at the Music Hall. Raekwon (A.K.A. “The Chef”) demonstrated that he still has the passion and strong emcee skills that he displayed on his debut album Only Built for Cuban Linx back in 1995. And even though the Raekwon and JD Era concert at the London Music Hall was not sold out on Friday night, there was a good sized crowd of Raekwon and Wu-Tang Clan supporters who had nothing but love and respect for one of rap’s finest storytellers.
The Unexpected Victory concert featuring JD Era and Raekwon on Friday began with some high energy performances by some quite talented local emcees, including Frank Dukez, Nga, Sativa, Dutch Sholtz, Del Reze, JR Fillion and Jay Downz. However, the concert was not kick-started fully until Toronto born emcee and the first emcee to sign to Raekwon’s ICE H20 Records label, JD Era stepped on stage at about 12:00 p.m. Near the beginning of ERA’s song set he brought up a fan from the audience who got to spit some of his favourite lyrics from a JD Era song. In addition, JD Era also kept the crowd more than entertained with a “ladies only” dance off contest on stage, in which the winner won a ticket to the upcoming Phife Dawg concert in Toronto. And although JD Era performed a variety of old and new tracks, my favourite two performances from Friday night include the “Pay Day 2 Remix” (featuring Raekwon), and one of his older tracks entitled, “You Know This”, because JD ERA is such a high-octane stage performer with great lyrical skills to back him up. JD Era’s performance on Friday evening was also extremely inspiring, because ERA talked about being persistent and not giving up on your dreams.
When Raekwon finally appeared on stage at the London Music Hall around 12:30 p.m. the crowd went crazy, as he opened his set with Wu-Tang Clan’s classic hit “C.R.E.A.M.”. Raekwon also brought JD Era back out to perform a few strong singles from his latest mixtape, Unexpected Victory, including “Just A Toast” and “Luxury Rap”. However, the crowd at the London Music Hall definitely seemed to be enjoying the old Wu-Tang Clan and Raekwon joints the most, including C.R.E.A.M; The Ring and the late Wu-Tang Clan collaborator Ol Dirty Bastard’s (ODB), “Shimmy, Shimmy Ya”, which was released the same year that Raekwon dropped his debut album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx” in 1995. Raekwon’s performance on Friday at the London Music Hall was also extremely inspiring and humbling, as Rae spoke about how kids should get a good education and, during one of his songs, pointed out the absurdity of people killing others over Nike Air Jordan running shoes. It was also interesting to note that JD Era and Raekwon were not rockin’ any iced out 100,000 dollar chains and were dressed quite conservatively in sweatshirts and jeans.
The JD Era and Raekwon concert at the London Music Hall on Friday, January 20th will be remembered from those who went as a classic concert in London’s music concert history. Hopefully “The Chef” will be coming back to London in the near future to perform with some of his other ICE H20 Records label-mates, since he recently put down some roots in Toronto when he opened up his new ICE H20 Records Hip-Hop label headquarters on Queen Street in December.
Review written by Zach Clarke.
Photography by Danielle Da Silva.