“We’re celebrating legends tonight” said Apex Zero, MC and host for the night. On 23rd Saturday September, the Chip Shop BXTN was host to night of lyricism, boom bap and honouring legends. More specifically, New York legend Big Noyd and the legacy of Mobb Deep. Now for those who don’t know, Big Noyd is a close affiliate of the legendary Mobb Deep. Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy’s passing in June this year led to a flood of tributes from rappers such as Nas, Ghostface Killah, Method Man and many others. This was Brixton’s turn to honour his legacy. Big Noyd arrived in the game around twenty years ago, having debuted back in 1993 on Mobb Deep’s album Juvenile Hell. Since then he has featured on all their albums except Blood Money. Mobb Deep’s own Havoc has produced a lot of the beats featured on Noyd’s releases. He’s released six albums, worked with 50 Cent, Wu Tang Clan, Rakim and Kool G Rap.
Chip Shop BXTN, on Coldharbour Lane in Brixton, is probably the best venue for such a night as it’s a seafood restaurant and bar with a golden age hip hop theme. The walls in the bar are adorned with photographs of hip-hop stars like Method Man and NWA. Specific rules from The Notorious B.I.G’s “Ten Crack Commandments” are emblazoned across the stairs. It’s not a particularly large venue and they have to move all the chairs and desks when the performers come out, resulting in an intimacy between the acts and the audience. It’s essentially a venue by ‘old heads’ for ‘old heads’. DJ Madhandz brought out the classics for the night, playing such gems as O.C.’s “Outsiders”, Nas’ “Represent” and “Triumph” by the Wu Tang Clan. To top it off, a cypher was held right outside the bar.
Apex Zero opened with his own lyrical performance, followed by Colorado rapper MDZ who kicked it off with some acapella bars before segueing into an energetic performance. His new album is coming out on Thursday 28th September. G.Que, a rising rapper from Michigan came through with “Rollin”. It’s a track made of pure energy and G.Que is a great performer who amped up the crowd. Manchester’s own Seven Spherez followed through with a machine gun like lyrical rapping style and superb production on their songs. AntLive closed off the opening acts with an incredible performance. From Detroit Michigan, Antlive is a notable producer and engineer otherwise known as Anthony Singleton who has produced for Ghostface Killah (for instance on his song Yolanda’s House) and collaborated with Public Enemy. He is also the self-proclaimed ‘boom bap king’ and hip-hop veteran of over thirty years. He raps with a frantic and show stealing energy. He has the dangerous energy of a hurricane and is immensely captivating to see — to top it off he also has bars.
The whole tone of the night was real rap. So it was fitting that Big Noyd came through as the headline act. Opening with G.O.D. Pt. III from Mobb Deep’s Hell on Earth, the Queensbridge rapper proved more than adept in doing justice to Mobb Deep’s track record. Going through some of their other hits, he performed Keep it Thoro and some of his collaborations with the Mobb, playing The Learning (Burn), Queens and Give Up the Goods. But the crowd wasn’t just there for the Mobb Deep tribute, even if it was delivered with sincerity and enthusiasm. The twenty-year veteran had his own gems from his discography which the fans wanted to see, playing Bump That, Shoot ‘em Up (Bang Bang) and Air it Out. Throughout his set, he was indefatigable and extremely polished. The music is the gritty hard-hitting confrontational style popularised in 90s New York, which the fans all relished, and several mosh pits sprung up throughout the night. On the flip side, the music could be smooth when it needed to be and when Antlive returned to join Noyd for their new song Ghetto Thesis, Noyd broke into acapella at the end which highlighted his refined cadence and style.
Speaking to some of the audience after the show had ended, quite a few of them said they were there because “they grew up on this music”. Naturally, fans in their mid-forties who lived through the era were present, but it was interesting to see those in their mid or early twenties present, who were too young to purchase any of his CDs during the 90s. Fans both half screamed, half rapped along to Shot the Fuck Up and the kinetic energy from the mosh pit that exploded when Big Noyd covered Shook Ones Pt. 2 was intense. It was an expectedly triumphant moment for everyone there.
Throughout, Big Noyd and the opening acts continually shouted out Mobb Deep, particularly Prodigy’s memory. Even with all the furious energy, the night was filled with sincerity for the passing of one of hip-hop’s greats.