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The news that Mobb Deep were appearing in Leeds was greeted with enthusiasm by every hip-hop head worth their salt based in West Yorkshire. DJ 279 warms up the crowd with a heavy selection of non-stop classics, as people swarm into the O2 Academy to witness two of New York’s finest do what they do, 20 years after their incredible sophomore album ‘The Infamous’ was released.

Arriving slightly late, I found out I’d missed Leeds based spitter Norty’s warm up set, which was a pity as it would have been cool to see the local MC drop his thought provoking lyrics on the main stage.

Big up to Norty for Leeds support.

mobbdeeppic3Before Havoc and Prodigy though comes a pair of legendary UK hip-hop artists, Rodney P and Daddy Skitz. From the word go the reggae infused upbeat good vibes get the crowd moving, and it’s clear for all to see that Rodney is a very seasoned performer. With tons of experience he rocks the stage in flawless style. The London Posse originator’s smooth flow is delivered with clarity, and sounds sublime through the huge O2 speakers. As Rodney launches into the classic ‘Riddim Killa’ tune, the crowd finally start to catch up with the energetic showcase. One of the standouts of their support slot is a killer remix of Pharoahe Monch’s ‘Simon Says’, with Rodney P’s tight spitting perfectly in the pocket. The rendition of London Posse’s ‘Money Mad’ reminds the crowd of the fact that Rodney has been putting the work in for decades, and the set finished with the absolutely classic cut ‘The Nice Up’ from P’s stellar solo album.

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Norty

After what was assumed to be the start of the Mobb’s set, but in reality was simply a photo-op for DJ Ski Beatz’ instagram, the crowd are treated to a bit of Prince while the anticipation builds. Technical difficulties keep the increasingly impatient audience waiting even longer. As the Queensbridge duo finally do take to the stage, the gritty, hardcore, instantly recognizable ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ beat pounds into the air, and Hav and Prodigy open their show in seamless style. Next is ‘Eye For A Eye’, and the crowd rap the lyrics along with the Mobb; the impact ‘The Infamous’ album had, and the longevity it has maintained since mean that tonight is certainly a very special occasion. The New York group run through ‘Right Back At You’ and ‘Give Up The Goods’, and their New York crime stories are impeccably delivered. ‘G.O.D. Part 3’, from the ‘Hell On Earth’ album is one of my favourite Mobb Deep tunes, and with the pounding bass and the green spotlights flooding the stage, the crowd are fully rocking with Hav and P. They continue with the ‘Hell On Earth’ segment with the title track from their 3rd album, and the smooth subtle beat combined with gritty street lyricism from two of New York’s finest is a reminder of the consistency and talent the Mobb possess. The grimey beats have conrtibuted so much to Mobb Deep’s legacy, and tonight is a masterclass in authentic 90’s hip-hop, but even when the Queensbridge spitters perform a new tune, they sound dope over the energetic, thugged out production. With a natural and fluid on stage chemistry, neither member misses a beat or a word. The in your face bass drum and sparse beat of ‘Let A Ho Be A Ho’ allows for the duo to drop their schemes with forceful deliveries, and with a dope rendition of ‘Thug Music’, it becomes clear that their catalogue of street anthems is incredibly deep. With tight run throughs of, amongst others, ‘Temperature’s Rising’, ‘The Learning’ and the ‘Outta Control Remix’ the crowd are rocking with the Mobb every step of the way, and when it comes time for the final song of the night, everybody in the venue knows what’s about to happen. There’s nothing I can say about their performance of ‘Shook Ones Part 2’ apart from to say that it absolutely blows the roof off.

With a banging selection of tracks spanning their entire career, from the 90’s classics to the G-Unit era to their current work, tonight is a masterclass in gritty, grimey hip-hop straight from the streets, and nobody does it quite like Havoc and Prodigy do.

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Fresh Jive
Words by Sam Bennett

samuelbennett1993@gmail.com

Photography by Ben Gwynne from 159 Photography https://www.facebook.com/159photography