By Dashaun Simmons
The Best Buy theater for one evening became transported as close as possible back to the 90s. There was blunt smoke and Mobb Deep T-shirts present as soon as you walked past security with an approved ticket. The ladies were out and the guys were grabbing their hands for an opportunity to talk and hopefully later “hit it from the back”. You have to feel sorry for those who felt brave enough to bring their girls out to such an event. DJ Stretch Armstrong kept the 90s vibe going with his selection of cuts taking the listeners back to an era with acts like The Beatnuts. This was a 90s hip hop head’s dream come true.
Peter Rosenburg of Hot 97’s morning show and Sasha Jenkins of Ego Trip joined forces to bring out one of the best unofficial duos in hip hop, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. The crowd listened to cuts from the Gza’s Liquid Swords only making them throw up their Ws in anticipation of Staten Island’s finest. When the fatal words “I told you a long time ago…” blared over the speakers the place erupted and I’m sure somewhere, somebody got punched in the face (even if it was just mentally). Ghost walks out with his usual all big everything wardrobe and mean mug demeanor followed by Trife The God and Cappadonna to “lace” the crowd.
Rae joins them looking happy to be alive and spitting his classic “Criminology” verse the the whole place seems to know. From that point it only got better. The weed smoke seemed to get thicker as Ghost and Rae traded songs on stage, going from “Incarcerated Scarfaces” to “Nutmeg“, “Fish” to “It’s Yourz“. Cap even gets to perform some joints like “97 Mentality” as he danced across the staged doing a perfect rendition of a guerrilla. Ghostface performs the amazing mixtape cut “The Watch” causing pure insanity amongst the audience, followed by a knockout blow with Rae doing the “Rainy Dayz (Remix)“. At this point Ghost stops the show to let the crowd know that he doesn’t rock with just any hip hop, and that they were performing for the crowd only because “real detects real”.
As it became Mobb Deep’s turn to rock tensions were high. Credit must be given to the set design which let the Mobb rock against the background they know best, the projects. The Queensbridge building 41-15 was recreated in Times Sq tonight so that the Infamous could feel at home. They walked through the building door greeting the crowd rocking Hennessy jersey’s reminiscent of their Shook Ones Pt. 2 video. The performance began with the song that brought Diddy to Queensbridge, “Survival of the Fittest” and then followed up with G.O.D. pt. 3. The Mobb was playing no games tonight.
Prodigy looked like he was hitting up the weight bench while on his 3 year bid and attacks the stage like he’s only out on work release. Havoc’s energy was more subdued than his newly released partner, but their small accompanying band kept the energy balanced. Prodigy and Havoc flow together having each others backs and only open up for family collaborations like Big Noyd during “Give Up The Goods“, Alchemist on “Hold You Down” or Lil Kim surprising everyone on the “Quiet Storm (Remix)“.
What wasn’t surprising was her lil jab at Nicki Minaj by mimicking her barbie like movements. Prodigy changes the pace with “Keep It Thoro” (adding another anthem to the set-list), while Cappadonna watches from the floor as a fan giving pounds and hugs. Raekwon joins the Mobb for “Eye For A Eye” showing a moment of pure love for their art and history. Havoc seemed surprised that Rae even still knew his verse from the song released 16 years ago. The Infamous finished off a historic evening with their all time classic “Shook Ones Pt. 2” before giving into moment for an encore. This made their true last song the 2Pac diss record “Drop A Gem On Em” which may seem awkward in 2011 but this crowd ate it up.
Disrespectful right up until the end, Mobb Deep is back. Still, you can’t help but wonder if these two duns from Queens still have a few raw classics left in them. However for this one night, Shaolin and Queensbridge didn’t have to rob anyone for their funds. The show was worth every penny.