Raekwon, formerly of Wu-Tang Clan, will perform in Gainesville on his “The Wild” tour Saturday at High Dive, located at 210 SW Second Ave. Doors will open at 8 p.m. with the show starting at 8:30 p.m. Advanced tickets for the show are $22 and $25 the day of the show.
In addition to consistently working with the Wu-Tang Clan, Raekwon has released seven solo albums showcasing his mafioso rap style. “The Wild” is his most recent album, released in March. The 16-track project features guest artists such as Lil Wayne, CeeLo Green and G-Eazy.
Other Florida artists will be featured as openers for Saturday’s show, including Butta Bing from Jacksonville, and Hugo $anchez and Br3adgang Blazel from Gainesville.
Sanchez is no stranger to High Dive, having opened for Curren$y in January 2016.
Since that show, he has made tremendous gains in his career. This includes starting to produce his own music in his home studio on his small label Detective Collective, where he collaborates with other local artists on different projects.
Because he does his own artwork, he refers to his craft as do-it-yourself-style.
“No one helps me, so stuff takes me a long time to do,” he said. “But, it’s made with love. It’s all handcrafted.”
Like most of the openers, he’s inspired by old-school hip-hop and rhythm and blues. Sometimes, though, he gains inspiration through drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette and watching old commercials from the ‘90s online.
“I’ll just sit there on YouTube and watch old cereal commercials, and that’s the kind of stuff that gets me writing,” he said.
He doesn’t rap about obvious themes that are found in rap music, like gun violence or drugs. This isn’t because he doesn’t think they’re valid, but because they’re not what dominates his own thoughts.
“I don’t really rap about stuff I don’t do,” he said. “So, I’m not rapping about being cool.”
More than anything, Sanchez is writing for himself. But he’s also writing for the people who grew up like he did — as latchkey kids raised by television.
“As long as I keep on making art that’s good enough for me, I feel like I’m going to connect with the people who think like I do,” he said.
Another Florida artist opening the show is Butta Bing from Jacksonville. Also known as Lawrence Critton, he’s been pursuing music for the past 15 years.
Critton’s music is also inspired by old-school sounds. Wu-Tang Clan has been a huge part of his life, inspiring him to use his background to be honest about drugs and violence in his music.
Being authentic is what’s most important for Critton. He said rappers who aren’t true to themselves and their music are not what hip-hop is supposed to be about.
“(Hip-hop) was always founded in the streets,” he said. “Before social media, that was the media. I think that if you’re going to tell people one thing, make sure you tell them the whole truth.”
For Critton, showing the whole truth means presenting both sides of the story. Because he actually lived many of the songs that rappers like to write, he feels like he can give an accurate picture of both the good and the bad.
“I think that’s what probably separates me from a lot of artists … who make those bad things seem so good to kids,” he said. “If you went through that then you can’t glorify that.”
Although he only began seriously performing for crowds last year, his expectations for this show are high. He’s been on the lookout to perform for bigger crowds and open for people whom he admires. Raekwon is one of those people.
“If they like Raekwon and his style of hip-hop then they absolutely (have) to like me,” he said.
Another Gainesville rapper opening the show is Br3adgang Blazel, also known as Earnest Hill.
Hill describes himself as a simple, hardworking person who doesn’t require much in life. He draws a lot of inspiration from the same music the other openers do, but his sound is also mixed with Southern and West Coast vibes.
Recently, Hill has been on the up-cycle with his career. He mostly attributes this to dedication in performing and developing his brand.
“Consistency is key at that point because you can only pick up new people, and you’ll continue to spread the word,” he said.
While different musicians inspire him, Hill is motivated by his family and witnessing the success of others.
“I’m genuinely happy for them because some of them are successful and some of them just love what they’re doing. Just to see them reach their goals, that inspires me to go a little bit harder,” he said.
Hill always tries to be honest with the people he performs for. During intermissions in his performances, he’ll speak to the audience plainly about his day to build a relationship with them. Sometimes, he’ll also use that time to explain the meaning behind his songs.
“I might talk about what some of the lines of the song mean, so people can break them down and understand what I’m actually saying, instead of just hearing me say it in the song,” he said.
Being able to perform in the same show as Raekwon is a dream come true for these three up-and-coming performers who grew up listening to Wu-Tang Clan.
Sanchez said he expects the crowd to be “people who appreciate old, dusty sampled gritty sounding beats, people who appreciate DJs, people who appreciate dark music, dark environments, smoky air, liquor and the vibes that come along with that aesthetic.”