New York was most definitely represented for Wu-Tang and Nas tour stop in Charlotte

By Tyler Bunzey

September 19, 2022

Neon lights blinked into the night over an industrial platform with aluminum siding, flanked by black iron park benches and an old yellow newspaper dispenser. Subway signs flashed and the Statue of Liberty stood resolute just left of the glittering city skyline displayed on the massive digital screens. 

Wu-Tang Clan on stage at PNC Music Pavilion for the New York State of Mind Tour with Nas in Charlotte on Sunday night.

The PNC Music Pavilion stage was transformed on Sunday night into New York City, evoking the roots of the evening’s hip-hop heavyweight headliners, Wu-Tang Clan and Nas. On the late summer night, crowds packed Charlotte’s largest outdoor music venue to hear the best of Queens and Staten Island perform hits from their storied catalogs. The tour’s East Flatbush, Brooklyn representative, Busta Rhymes, was unfortunately unable to join the tour for the North Carolina dates as advertised, but crowds– trending more toward their 50s than their 20s– brought the ruckus nonetheless. 

Nas performing in Charlotte for the co-headlining New York State of Mind Tour in Charlotte.

The excitement of the night began with a set from one of hip-hop’s most respected sonic architects, DJ Scratch. The former EPMD DJ and producer (50 Cent, DMX, LL Cool J, and many more) spun a powerful set of classic hip-hop hits to move the crowd as the sun set over the mostly filled pavilion. Fans swayed to a range of standards, from Biggie’s “Warning” to Camp Lo’s “Luchini” to Tribe’s “Can I Kick It?” before concluding with Eric B. and Rakim’s “Paid in Full.” Scratch had everyone in a frenzy when he began to juggle the guitar stabs of LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells,” manipulating the records with his elbows and, at one point, even flipping the fader with his nose. The crowd seemed delighted by this display of DJ virtuosity that has largely faded since the heyday of New York hip-hop in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. 

Scratch’s set immediately transitioned into Wu-Tang’s first set, with frontman RZA taking the stage alone. RZA claimed a special connection to the crowd, as he famously spent three years in Mufreesboro, North Carolina living with his uncle after his parents’ divorce. He was joined by one emcee at a time– first by the GZA who performed “Liquid Swords,” then by Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah before the remaining emcees performed in ensemble “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” from their trailblazing 1993 debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

@clture #WuTang #Charlotte #NewYorkStateofMind #Wu #Rza #Gza #Raekwon #Ghostface #WuTangClan #CLTure #CLT #Nas #Wu #WuTangForever #36Chambers #Shaolin ♬ original sound – CLTure

After a brief performance of “Clan in da Front,” Wu-Tang filtered from the stage as Nas began his set. The performances would switch like this– five or so songs a set before switching again– throughout the night. The contrast was stark. Wu-Tang’s infamously chaotic energy was muted a bit by a sound mix that buried some vocals and the beat’s melodies underneath an over-amplified bass drum. The crowd clearly had difficulty following along at times, and some of Wu-Tang’s performances came off flat as a result.

@clture #Nas #NasirJones #WuTang #Charlotte #CLT #newyorkstateofmindtour #Wu #Illmatic #CLTure #HipHop #Queensbridge ♬ original sound – CLTure

Nas, in contrast, electrified the crowd with a vibrant and clearer performance. The emcee performed hits from his 14 studio albums, ranging from Illmatic’s “Represent” to God’s Son’s “Get Down” to his guest verse on Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse” alongside Ghostface. Nas seemed genuinely excited to be performing for the Charlotte audience, pausing at times to take in the beaming adulation seeping from the stands. The crowd felt his gratitude and returned it to the emcee in kind. All three of his miniature sets were met with energetic enthusiasm.

The night was dripping with hip-hop nostalgia. But rather than taking the form of a lament over what culture has lost, fans met the performances with an electric joy. The night was about celebrating the innovators who made hip-hop a cultural centerpiece when many dismissed it as a fad. Crowds were eager to celebrate Wu-Tang and Nas and show them that 30 years after their debut, they were still in a New York state of mind.  


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Wu-Tang setlist:

Killa Bees on the Swarm
Liquid Swords
Da Mystery of Chessboxin’
Clan in da Front
Ice Cream
Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit
Protect Ya Neck
Can It Be All So Simple

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