A quick rhetorical question. Why is Mobb Deep still relevant?
The obvious answer is that the legacy of The Infamous still reverberates through the hip-hop world. The second answer, that is completely apparent to anyone who’s seen them live, is Mobb Deep puts on a hell of a show.
Oregon based Landon Wordswell opened the show and I can’t tell you how excellent it is to have a fantastic hometown rapper. Wordswell’s jazzy and fast paced set was punctuated by his hyper-fast flow and hard-hitting beats. He bounced back and forth between work he made in high school and cuts from his new album and all that Jazz. He made the set have a warm and intimate feel by high fiving the crowd and constantly shouting out Eugene. To energize the audience he jumped into the crowd towards the end of his set, creating a near moshpit as he spit. He also asked his DJ to cut the beats three times and preformed stunning acapella rhymes that were as speedy as they were potent.
It was late by the time Mobb Deep’s crew arrived, but the lateness was soon forgotten as they launched into “Shook Ones” to open the set. In structure their set was similar to Wordswell’s, going back and forth between The Infamous and their new album The Infamous Mobb Deep. The new stuff rocks and almost 20 years later the hits off of The Infamous are as hard and gritty as ever. Havoc and Prodigy controlled the stage with a cool and menacing confidence. The way the held themselves reminded me of live videos of Pusha-T and it’s clear that the Virginia based rapper took some inspiration from New York. A few minor flaws popped up during the set’s early minutes, mostly coming from Havoc’s mic being too low and DJ on Point’s obsession with shotgun sound effects, but Mobb Deep powered through. They simply showed up and straight played for an hour and a half. There wasn’t much stage banter, but with the sheer amount of hits that they played it didn’t matter. They only time they took a small break to talk to the audience was to jab at everyone who skipped the concert. “If you got friends that were like “Nah, fuck that Mobb Deep shit” and didn’t show up, repeat after us. FUCK YOU!” shouted Prodigy as he led us in an angry, middle fingers raised, chant. Mobb Deep’s dangerous charisma carried the set to its thrilling conclusion with “Shook Ones Part. II” That opening buzz saw sound sent shivers through the crowd. Prodigy might not be able to say “I’m only nineteen, but my mind is older” any more, but even 20 years later “Shook Ones Part. II” stands as one of the greatest Hip-Hop songs ever made and it served as a perfect closing to a spectacular night.