Mobb Deep has had one of the most illustrious careers in Hip-Hop history.
Mobb Deep has had one of the most illustrious careers in Hip-Hop history. Coming from Queensbridge, rappers Havoc and Prodigy have shocked the world with their major debut in 1995 with The Infamous. From there, every album has been a timestamp to eras of Hip-Hop.
They’ve never shied away from any beef (the East Coast/West Coast, Nas, Jay-Z, to name a few)… even with each other. Their catalog stretches over 20 years, with almost anyone calling themselves a hip-hop fan knowing the hook to “Halfway Crooks Pt. 2.”
And yet, the one key that’s remained constant through their time in the changing landscape of hip-hop is one thing: authenticity. And when I checked out their show at The National last Friday, their timeless and original approach definitely shined through.
We arrived a little bit into Smif and Wessun’s set, an act I was definitely excited to see. Smif and Wessun are a part of the independent-mainstay Boot Camp Clik, also comprised of Buckshot, Heltah Skeltah, OGC, and the now-deceased Sean Price (one half of Heltah Skeltah as well). The first song I caught that night was a tribute to all the greats who’ve passed, including Prince (who passed the night before), Notorious B.I.G., and of course, Sean P. This left the crowd wild.
The Brownsville vets did a great job of keeping their fans engaged. At one point during “Bucktown”, Tek hopped on a fan’s shoulders and rapped while being hoisted above the audience.
Everyone was hyped, screaming out every “What the Fuck!” Tek and Steele interjected into the lyrics. They rounded out their set with a few Bootcamp Clik/Heltah Skeltah jams, as well as a fitting tribute to Sean Price (who’s been rumored to have roots to Richmond). Their performance was definitely electric, leaving the crowd energized for the main event.
After a short break, the DJ quickly began hyping everyone up with a “Mobb Deep” chant. Looking down from the balcony, I realized this was one of the most diverse crowds I’d see at a hip-hop show. Old and young, it showed the timeless effect their 20+ year career had on the genre.
When Prodigy and Havoc finally took the stage, the eclectic mix of fans went ecstatic. Opening with “Survival of The Fittest,” the crowd swung their fists in the air to every punchline. In fact, while most rappers can let the audience fill in the lyrics on their biggest hits, this crowd knew every word.
They were truly dedicated fans, knowing not just songs, but albums.
For showmanship, Prodigy and Havoc took control of the stage like they’d been there a thousand times before. Moving back and forth, they commanded the audience with an iron fist. With never a dull moment, the two showed their skill and mastery by orchestrating the energy of the room, making it look like a walk in the park.
Their set rounded out with their most infamous jams, including “Eye for an Eye” and (of course) the finale of “Halfway Crooks Pt.2”.
As some of the most skilled and well-rehearsed MC’s in the game, Mobb Deep showed they still know how to keep it thorough. Their raw, authentic energy has captured the hearts of millions over the years. And time hasn’t slowed them down; they still translated some of their biggest hits the stage like it was their first show.
I guess that’s the balance to staying relevant for two decades: treat things with a hunger like it’s your first time, but act like a veteran who’s been there before. That’s the balance of Mobb Deep.