GZA Show Proves His Relevance to Pip-squeak Demographic

"Hell no I won't buy you some beer!" Photo: Henry S. Dziekan III / Retna

GZA was supposed to run through his beloved debut, Liquid Swords, at McCarren Park Pool in September, but the show was abruptly canceled. Thursday and Friday at the Knitting Factory, he tried to make up for it. But Friday night, GZA more or less abandoned the work. As his crew swallowed up the little stage (one rolling blunts, another attempting to make a phone call, the rest just standing around awkwardly, like boys at a bar mitzvah before the D.J. makes everyone play Coke-and-Pepsi), the Genius hopped from Swords to Wu bangers to the obligatory but still heartwarming ODB tribute. Shaggy-haired teens dominated the front row, inspiring GZA to take an informal survey of their ages: “17!” “16!” “14!” “Who the fuck can say that Wu-Tang isn’t relevant to the kids!” the rapper boomed in response. “Wu-Tang is for the fucking babies, man!” And then, over a spontaneous “Wu! Tang!” chant (seemingly for his sake as much as anyone else's), he exclaimed “GZA is relevant, motherfucker!” A sold-out gig at the Knitting Factory isn't so much a sign of mass relevance as niche appeal, of course, but a paraphrase of an old saying comes to mind: 200 people heard the show, and 198 of them went on to gush about it — including the aforementioned 14-year-old, undoubtedly out after his bedtime. —Amos Barshad