Flashback Fridays: Mobb Deep at Hip Hop Kemp

By Anton Constantinou

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Regular visitors to the site may recall our recent  Think Ahead Tuesdays piece on Czech rap festival, Hip Hop Kemp: a 3 day music event bustling with emcees, deejays, graffiti artists and break dancers from around the globe.

This year’s run included show stealing performances from likes of P Rhyme, Gangstarr Foundation and Yelawolf.

Leading from the front line though was one of the game’s biggest acts to date; a group so dark they’ve left many a rapper “scared to death [and] scared to look”. Yes, you’ve guessed correctly- it is of course QB’s finest, Mobb Deep. This year celebrating the 20th anniversary of their epic debut album, The Infamous, their appearance proved a cause for nostalgic reflection on some of the greatest hip hop music ever made. Having missed out the chance to see them recently on home turf at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, we pretty much had butterflies in our stomach from the moment they stepped on stage.

Like most festival acts they chose to come on on the final night, and in fact were the last perform. High energy warm up sets from Ghostface Killah and Dutch horrorcore group, D.O.D, ensured the crowd  were well and truly pumped for MD, who rocked out shortly after 12:30- half an hour later than expected. Florescent spotlights and plumes of smoke set the perfect atmosphere  for the duo, who, down the years, have come to shine a torch on rap’s grittier side. Back in the mid 90’s, their haunting style, characterised by eerie piano loops, sparse basslines and distorted syntheziers, helped redefine the sound of hardcore hip hop. Along with albums like,  Illmatic, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and Ready to Die, The Infamous is widely recognised as a major contributor to the East Coast Renaissance.

Starting their set on a high, they opened with hit classic, Survival Of The Fittest– arguably of one of their rawest to date. Thereafter they covered off not only discography from The Infamous but also big singles like,  God Pt.111, Quiet Storm and Outta Control. Saving the best till list, they finished off with their signature song Shook Ones. Ranked #35 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time”, it’s a nightmarish inner city narrative unlike any other. From the initial gas stove ticking  at the beginning of the track,  to ominous melody, it’s a one ticket to hell that has you wishing you never crossed queensbridge.

For all the hype, Mobb Deep definitely delivered at Kemp at this year. As well as exceeding our expectations, they went to prove that there is still very much a home for hardcore hip hop amongst the trap and swag rap of the modern age. Those yet to visit the festival need to get on down next year! Further details can be found at the main site: http://www.hiphopkemp.cz/


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