We Asked Ghostface Killah Fans About the Future of Live Music

Brought to you by the #NewNormal, O2's mission to question, explore and understand how mobile is changing the way we act and interact as humans.

by O2
04 October 2016, 9:19am

This feature is from the O2 #NewNormal series. Read more here.

It's been over twenty years since the release of Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, and in that time both hip-hop and live music culture have undergone massive transformations. To neatly summarise that transformation in one fell swoop: Tupac is a hologram now. 

To find out just how much gigs have changed in that time, we headed down to O2 Forum Kentish Town last night, where Ghostface Killah and Raekwon were due to perform Only Built 4 Cuban Linx in its entirety, to canvas some of London's biggest hip-hop fans for their thoughts on the future of live music, and what they think the new normal at shows might become. We talked to people about holograms, mobile tech, how to savour a moment, the visceral thrill of live music, and living in the moment.

Evie, 31. Gosha, 34.​

What's special to you about this gig tonight?
Evie: I've seen Ghostface Killah a few years ago and I just want to see him again.

What's does the future of live music look like? Holograms?
Evie: That's not music. That's an installation.

So when they resurrect Old Dirty Bastard in hologram form - you wouldn't go?
Evie. Yeah, but it's not a concert.

Where should I be standing tonight to get the best experience?
Gosha: We always go to the front...when you're at the back it's like 'that's not it'.

Do you get your phones out a lot at shows, for videos and photos?
Evie: That's a no go. Like be respectful don't open up your phone.

You're on a date and in the first ten seconds of a song the guy's on his phone taking photos…
Gosha: No.


James, 33.

Why are you here?
James: Half of me is working. Half of me is here for Ghost and Rae.

What do you think Wu-Tang keep in the 36 Chambers?
James: I think it's a spiritual thing. You've got the samurai's code –  if you look at RZA and what he's delved into... it's got something to do with spirituality mixed with the samurai's way. We study the Tao of RZA.

That's like a BTEC or GCSE?
James: No, it's a book.

What's the future of live music? Bringing Oculus Rift to Glastonbury?
James: Nah.

Virtual bottles thrown at virtual 50 cent?
James:  You're never going to take away live music.

Are you on your phone a lot at gigs?
James: Yeah, I'll take a cheeky video, if I know it's going to go off. 

Steven, 30.

Why are you here?​
Steven: Cuban Linx, of course. The first gig I ever went to was a Ghostface Killah gig in 2006. It was like seeing a god, my idol, like 'this person actually exists' – but now you see so much of their day-to-day lives online, you're desensitised to it. You do actually see them as a normal person, which is good and bad.

What's the atmosphere going to be like tonight?
Steven: Rowdy.

Do you think gigs have changed since Cuban Linx came out?
Steven: 100%. There's so many phones now. You're not enjoying the experience as much if you're enjoying it through a screen. There's a few moments you're going to want to capture but don't watch the whole gig through your phone.

What are Cuban Linx?
Steven: It's a link on a chain. It's the strongest link. So, if you've got a big fuck off medallion and you don't want it to get smashed off your neck, that's the link you have.

Tony, 37.

What's the future of live music?
Tony: Whatever people decide is important to them.

Tony: Nah, nah, it'll be using technology, but people are going to have a lot more choice now when they go and see something they listen to and how they listen to it.

Are you on your phone a lot at gigs?
Tony: More so now than I was originally, sometimes. You're so used to using phones nowadays you get trapped in taking pictures. You just got to savour the moment, actually live it, rather than replay the one you missed.

How important is it to you to see Ghost and Rae in the flesh?
Tony: Massively. This is everything to me.

Leanne, 30. Billy, 30.

How important is this gig for you?
Billy: Pretty important. I grew up with up with mainstream hip-hop. Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, etc. I was privileged to grow up in the 90s when hip-hop was at it's peak and it's starting to die out, you know, and there's this new kind of stuff coming in and I don't think it's the real feel.

You're here to pay homage to the scene.
Leanne: Absolutely. This is the best night to hear music. This is what it's all about.

As it's such an important night for the scene are you going to try and document as much as you can?
Leanne: Do you know what, actually? I went to see Grace Jones yesterday and it was so apparent how many people were so quick to pop out their phones and for me, I find it a bit rude. Like I just want to be in the moment and enjoy the performance and the experience.
Billy: I do, I'm a bit different I like to make sure people know that I'm at something like this. You know, it's pretty important, I'm seeing these guys that were really big in the 90s and early 2000s. I dunno, I like to get people's feedback on what I'm doing.

John & Mel.

You two look awesome. Do you ever spend gigs taking loads of photos and videos?
Mel: I don't mind.
John: No future for it, but it's a human thing so [holds up both palms].


Ji, 38.

How important is tonight's gig for you?
Ji: Oh, big. I used to follow all the Wu-Tang members. I love their stuff. They talk a lot of sense compared to a lot of other hip-hop artists.

It's 2016, why actually go to a gig? I mean, it's Sunday, isn't Fleabag on?
Ji: Radio, TV, social media – it's all good, but to be here live and experience it first hand, you can't really beat that.

You going to be posting about it all on Instagram?
Ji: I'm not to huge on it. I'm a family man, really, I'm not really one of them who posts everyday or every five minutes or whatever.

Rosie, 27. Sam, 28.

How important is it to be here for this gig tonight?
Sam: They don't come to town very often so…

You going to be filming everything tonight?
Rosie: It depends, I'll capture it if like my favourite song or something comes on but I wouldn't want to see the whole thing through my phone. He's the opposite of me, he'll have his phone out.
Sam: Not on principle it just doesn't really occur to me.

Alex, 25. Sam, 25.

Why are you here?
Alex: We always used to listen to Cuban Linx, we always had it on. Downloaded when we were sixteen and rinsed it out.

What are Cuban Linx?
Alex: It's a chain you wear, a certain kind of link.
Sam: I thought it was about cocaine trafficking?

How has live music changed since this record came out?
Alex: Not that much.

Tupac is a hologram now, that's quite a big change isn't it?
Alex: True enough, but that's only a fad, what else has changed that much?
Sam: Festivals are massive nowadays to be fair.
Alex: I bet there was festivals back when Mozart was playing.

Jamie, 18. Will, 25. Ed, 25.

How pumped are you for this gig?
Jamie: 9/10.

How important is it to see an artist live in the age of Snapchat and Facebook live?
Jamie: Depending on the genre it's different. I understand when people don't feel the need to go to a gig when it's just some sort of really peaceful, classical music. But when it comes to hip hop, you go to see it live - and that's how you'd hear about the MC's and the DJs. It's more about the feeling.