Bluesfest 2019
Wu-Tang Clan performing at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest on July 13, 2019. Photo by Greg Kolz / Bluesfest


After a long delay due to thunderstorms, SHIFTER’s most highly anticipated show of RBC Bluesfest 2019 got underway as the Wu-tang Clan graced the City Stage.

One by one members of arguably the most celebrated hip-hop group of all time took the stage. First, it was Masta Killa. As one of the lesser known members of the group, it was refreshing to see him have his own moment on stage and show that he’s fully capable of commanding a stage on his own as an MC.

Then the RZA joined him on stage, followed by Ghostface Killah and Raekwon as they performed “Bring the Ruckus”. Eventually, the rest of the clan came out as they performed classics from their first album Enter the Wutang (36 Chambers), including “Shame On A Nigga”, ” Can It Be All So Simple” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin'”, “Tearz”, “Protect Ya Neck” and of course “C.R.E.A.M.”, probably the song they’re most known for. The clan was accompanied by Young Dirty Bastard who performed his father’s verses and very much looked and sounded the part of ODB.

With a deep catalogue of solo tracks, there were a few opportunities for individual members to shine. In the early parts of the show, Cappadonna was introduced performing “Run”, his biggest hit off his solo project “The Pillage”. Young Dirty Bastard then rocked the mic as he performed his father’s hits “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” and “Got Your Money” which had YDB getting up close and personal with fans as he went out into the crowd. The performance had members of the clan looking around at each other puzzled at what they were seeing as they may have decades earlier with his father.

Of course, they also played to the somewhat civic pride of the local crowd. RZA noted the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship, which caused a big response from the crowd, and the REDBLACKS’ recent CFL championship, which caused the total opposite reaction – awkward silence. Cappadonna and DJ Mathematics also wore #36 Ottawa REDBLACKS jerseys with their names across the back. Very nice touch.

As many classic hip-hop acts today, the Wu sprinkled some classic songs from other genres, like Aerosmith’s “Come Together” and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit” in their set which put the crowd into even more of a frenzy.

They then appropriately closed performing hits from their other revered album Wut-ang Forever, including “Reunited” and “Triumph”.

Despite the solid performance, the clan was missing the man who many consider its biggest star and most recognizable face, Method Man, to the disappointment of both hip-hop heads and the ladies alike. His flow, energy and voice on some of Wu-tang’s classic hooks were missed. There were certain points in the show when a Meth verse or hook came on and it felt a bit flat, and you knew that if he were there he would’ve brought that energy and the crowd would’ve went crazy. But RZA and Ghostface Killah, who performed solo last year at Bluesfest, took the lead in bringing energy to the stage and making sure the crowd was engaged. RZA used every part of the stage throughout the show and was often the hype man on his brothers’ verses. At one point he had his arm around U-God, who has been vocal in the past about his disappointments with the Abbott, as he was about to spit a verse. Meanwhile Ghost refused to hold back on any of his verses.

So were we right in crowning Wu-tang our most anticipated show of RBC Bluesfest 2019? We definitely weren’t wrong. Seasoned acts like the Wu-tang Clan remind us that there’s a clear difference between just being a recording artist and being an MC. It’s the performance, the crowd engagement, and the lyricism, and the clan delivered all of that and then some.

Listen to KB The Boss and Vlad on Ottawa’s hip-hop morning show The Morning Shift, Monday to Friday, 6am to 8am