Saturday Night: Ghostface, Raekwon & Mobb Deep At House Of Blues
Near the end of Ghostface and Raekwon's hourlong set, Ghost stood at the edge of the stage like he was about to keel over. The rapper looked around and, with a tide of surprise, wondered why no one brought water bottles onstage.
"Because we drink beer, nigga," Raekwon quipped, and Ghost cracked a half-smile.
He was right to demand water, though. The duo, along with Cappadonna, had just blazed through a dizzying, six-minute rendition of Wu-Tang's "Triumph." And that wasn't even their best showcase.
The Houston stop of Rock the Bells convened wildly cherished New York acts Mobb Deep (Prodigy and Havoc) and frequent collaborators Ghost and Rae at House of Blues. Two pairs for the price of one. The plan was to bring two seminal '90s albums to life, with Mobb Deep performing The Infamous and Rae & Ghost playing Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.
The show peaked early. A crisp opening set by Fat Tony primed the crowd for what was to follow. With Alchemist on the turntables, Mobb Deep stormed the stage to the tune of "The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)." Havoc could have passed for a security guard in his red tee and blue jeans; Prodigy favored his signature bandana, white tee, army jacket, blue and white Adidas, and a scowl that creased his temple like the face of a farmer.
Mobb Deep's Havoc (left) and Prodigy
If you've never heard The Infamous, Saturday was not a perfect introduction to the album. For the handful of Mobb Deep followers at House of Blues, however, the set was a gift. It seemed like everyone was a staunch fan. There were groups of people reciting every rhyme and exchanging handshakes. "Survival of the Fittest" sent the crowd surging into the stage barrier.
At one point, Prodigy looked down at the front row with a mix of surprise and concern.
They would go on to perform their classic album The Infamous in its entirety, pausing occasionally to pay obligatory visits to less memorable albums. The final six minutes - "Shook Ones Pt. II" and "Quiet Storm" - was the highlight of the show. The crowd was chanting so loud you could barely hear Hav and P.
Following the Mobb Deep performance directly would have been tough, even for Ghost and Rae. So freestyle specialist Supernatural took to the stage to prep the crowd.
We don't know what Supernatural wanted to be as a child, but we're convinced that he was born to freestyle. In 2006, he set a new Guinness world record for the longest freestyle rap while hosting a Rock the Bells gig in San Bernardino, Calif. He freestyled continuously for nine hours, stopping only to "take a piss and drink some water."
He only lasted 11 minutes onstage Saturday night, but it was 11 minutes of fierce, fresh, focused freestyling. He kept it old-school, incorporating random objects held up by fans. "Pass me a blunt instead of a fuckin' cigarette," he rapped to one fan who held up a cig.