World's Largest Hip-Hop Show | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

World's Largest Hip-Hop Show 


The mostly east coast participants on this hyperbolic ten-act bill avoid bland G-funk, and there's no lip service paid to a prospective non-hip-hop audience: the lineup is designed strictly for heads. New York's Mobb Deep, veterans of the Queensbridge scene that's also produced Nas and Big Noyd, are the nominal headliners, and as heard on their most recent album Hell on Earth (Loud/RCA), members Havoc and Prodigy combine a terse lyrical flow with lean but effective beats. Unfortunately they perpetuate tired gangsta postures, continually delineating how the suffocating tension of everyday life precipitates a spiraling cycle of violence. The Jungle Brothers, whose long-awaited contribution to the renewed Native Tongues posse, Raw Deluxe (Gee Street), comes out next month, balance Mobb Deep's tough nihilism with old-school positivity. Yet apart from a few scattered gems like "Jungle Brother," "Black Man on Track," and the single "How Ya Want It--We Got It," the group's more optimistic realism is hampered by less-than-fresh musical ideas. Hyenas in the Desert are the first act signed to Slam Jamz, the Columbia-distributed label headed by Chuck D. The group's debut, Die Laughing, reveals a rage on par with Public Enemy's but lacks both that group's poignancy and its complexity. Other notable performers include Killarmy, one of the first acts signed to Wu-Tang Records, and a pair of local acts to rival any of the big names on the bill: Gravity and Just Ro. Friday, 7:30 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee; 773-509-6482 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of Mobb Deep and photo of Hyenas in the Desert by Exum.

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March 21
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