New York hip-hop duo Mobb Deep have garnered a lion’s share of critical praise and commercial success over the course of their nearly 20 year career. Now understood to be the flag-bearers of so-called “hardcore hip-hop,” it was the unnerving sincerity and razor-sharp delivery of 1995’s The Infamous (and particularly the track “Shook Ones Pt. II” ) that caused critics and music fans alike to take notice of the then still-teenaged Havok and Prodigy.
Eighteen years later, The Infamous is now universally understood to be one of the genre’s all-time classic releases, while Mobb Deep have gone through as much as any artists in music. And seven studio albums, nine mixtapes, a feud with Jay-Z, a botched record deal with 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records, and a temporary split haven’t slowed down the Queensbridge natives; an eighth record is in the works, Havok just released an album with highly regarded producer Alchemist, and both Havok and Prodigy are in the process of writing novellas.
Keeping with the theme of not slowing down, Mobb Deep’s performance at Velvet Jones this past Tuesday, May 21 was nothing if not impressive. Their set was more than an hour long (practically a marathon compared to the 30-minute sing along that newbie Trinidad Jame$ served up at the same venue earlier this year); the songs were void of any vocal tracks (save for a few verses from the dearly departed Nate Dogg); and opportunities to flex lyrical muscles were seized with a capella verses.
But, it wasn’t just the better-than-usual performance that makes Mobb Deep’s show worthwhile; it’s the authenticity with which they deliver their sets.
“Where the fuck do you think you are?,” he asked, pointing at the fan from the stage. “This ain’t now mother fucking Jay-Z shit. This ain’t no mother fucking Roc-a-Fella diamond in the sky shit. Don’t forget where you’re at. This is Mobb-mother-fucking-Deep.”