With their groundbreaking album The Infamous now 20 years old, Getintothis’ Zach Jones celebrates hip-hop legends Mobb Deep – as well as casting his eye over emerging Liverpool talents.
As yet another hip-hop master act descends upon Liverpool, the city gears itself for the arrival of Mobb Deep and support artist Rodney P. Marking the 20th anniversary of masterpiece The Infamous, Mobb Deep looked back on 20 years of controversy, celebration and hard graft.
In an age were hip-hop is dominated by bedroom producers and soundcloud hits, Mobb Deep are from a different era. Globally recognised as one of the most influential hardcore hip-hop acts, they collaborated with everyone from Nas to NY hardcore punks Sick of it All.
Just as much a live act as a record shifters, they surf the wave between mainstream recognition and street level respect. Never selling out or giving in to major label pressure, The Infamous was released on Prodigy’s own label, allowing Mobb Deep to maintain their authentic sound and control over their art.
So with excitement building, and the crowd gathering, Liverpool’s own L100 Cypher took to the stage. The Merseyside collective is numerous ranging from ex-Fire Beneath The Sea vocalist Nicky Talent, to newer MCs such as Jamie Broad and Beyond Average. They burn through track after track effortlessly, switching MCs with an ease.
A statement really to the quality of Liverpool’s young hip-hop talent. We’re treated to a violin solo, among instrumentals from fellow Mobb Deep collaborator Nas, before it’s all over. It’s a short set from such a diverse collective, only time will tell if they’ll be filling the hour long headline in another twenty years.
Next up is Rodney P and Skitz. As Skitz steps on, adorning his Liverpool FC shirt, he speaks out, “Make some noise if you’ve liked Hip-Hop for more than 3 years…”. The crowd cheers. “Make some noise if you’ve liked Hip-Hop for more than 5 years…”. To which the crowd shouts. “Make some noise if you’ve liked hip-hop for more than 10 years!” To which the screams ring out, and the beat kicks in.
“There’s some serious hip-hop heads in the building then” And Skitz couldn’t be more right. This is obviously a crowd of 1,000 very dedicated hip-hop fans and, as he slips from one track to the next, Rodney P makes his appearance. London’s Rodney P is a master at work, his lyrical prowess is flawless and mastereful. Where Cypher were filled with youthful energy, Rodney P is the time-hardened pro. The set is fun, interactive and very much whetting the appetite for the final course.
The Infamous Mobb Deep. As Havoc and Prodigy step out onto the stage the roars are deafening. Twenty years later they are still at the top of their game, taming the crowd until they’re eating out of their hands. They swap between bars with the comfort a twenty year relationship brings, and burn through material as if the world is ending. It felt like they could play all night, with hit after hit relentlessly washing over the crowd.
Tonight feels like a celebration. A celebration of Mobb Deep rising above the criticism, hatred and controversy with a smile on their face and a mic in the air. This really is the story of two MCs who, despite a difficult start, have reached the other side as acclaimed masters of their art.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Jack Thompson.