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Review: Datsik, GZA @ Best Buy Theater 1.18.14


Even with the weather dipping into the 20s, the line going into Best Buy Theater on Saturday night was filled with bikini clad ladies and guys in basketball jerseys. As you could imagine, plenty of people obviously regretted baring skin on a cold January night, but those feelings quickly changed when they felt the warmth of the venue. Greeting the lively and ever-growing crowd were Atlanta's heRobust and San Jose's Getter, a dubstep DJ/producer signed to Datsik's Firepower Records. Both DJs got the adrenaline pumping for the night's main attractions.

The vast majority of the crowd were probably still in diapers when GZA dropped Liquid Swords back in 1995. The album became one of hip hop's most beloved albums for its untouchable lyrical dexterity. It's hard to imagine the legendary rapper topping the influential album with it's long awaited sequel.

The live band for GZA's performance got things jumping with a very funky intro which included a cover of the Sugarhill Gang's classic "Apache (Jump On It)". When the Wu-Tang Clan rapper arrived on stage, it was all business. The flyer for the show indicated that the Liquid Swords album would be performed in it's entirety, a performance that GZA has done every now and then. While some tracks from the classic album were played, including the title track and "Hell's Wind Staff / Killah Hills 10304", the set felt more like a mixed bag of everything Wu Tang related. GZA ran through cuts from his other releases such as "Legend Of The Liquid Sword" and "Crash Your Crew" without the slightest hint of enervation. "How many of y'all got that 36 Chambers?", asked the Brooklyn rapper before going into "Clan In The Front", a track which had the somewhat stationary crowd chanting right along with the chorus. GZA revisited the 36 Chambers album later in his hour long set for the cuts "C.R.E.A.M." and "Protect Ya Neck". Unfortunately, the other members of Wu-Tang weren't present to lay down their parts, but GZA had no problem with delivering those lines on his own. Paying homage to the late Ol' Dirty Bastard, the rapper also went into the classic track "Shimmy Shimmy Ya".

While GZA was holding his own on the mic, the live band really brought the entire performance to life. The heavy guitar riffs and solos almost transformed those Wu signs in the crowd into metal horns, especially during the track "Duel Of The Iron Mic". The two piece synth/keys section were quite delightful during "Hell's Wind Staff / Killah Hills 10304" and "C.R.E.A.M.". And what's a hip hop show without a beat? The drummer was on point with GZA's immaculate flow.

For Troy Beetles, otherwise known as Datsik, performing on the same stage as one of his favorite rappers for a few stops on the Digital Assassins Tour was something surreal. Much like most hip hop aficionados, Datsik is a hardcore Wu-Tang Clan fan. If you ever walked by the 25-year old dubstep producer/DJ on a typical day in Los Angeles, you'd probably hear him spitting lines from the 36 Chambers album. Since tampering with dubstep, a genre he called "a complete bastardization of electronic music", back in 2009, Datsik has become one of the top names of the genre in North America. Last year, Datsik dropped his second album Let It Burn, took part of Linkin Park's second remix album entitled Recharged and even had a couple tunes featured in the Saints Row 4 video game.

Datsik arrived to his massive Vortex DJ booth around 12:25am to an ear-splitting roar. Spellbinding lights flashed on stage as Datsik laid down a powerhouse set which got the crowd on their feet. This was the second time that Datsik sold out Best Buy Theater, and the energy from the audience intensified when he dropped his own material like "Oxygen" and "Bonifide Gangsta". The latter track had the entire crowd screaming along to the lines "I'm a hustler/ I'm a gangsta." Datsik also managed to sneak Benga's "To Hell and Back" and The Champs' number one single "Tequila" into the mix. People in the seating area couldn't help but dance up and down the aisles while security puzzlingly looked on.

Datsik's infatuation with hip hop doesn't end with Wu-Tang. The DJ threw down some bangers such as Luniz's "I've Got 5 On It", M.O.P.'s "Ante Up" and Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode". There was no way that Datsik could depart from the Big Apple without dropping some classic Notorious B.I.G. tunes like "Machine Gun Funk" and "Juicy". The energetic DJ didn't come alone on this tour; a few of his friends got the crowd riled up throughout the performance with the usual water spraying and  At the end of the set, sweaty dancers vacated the Times Square-based venue and returned to the frigid cold that patiently awaited them.