Adam Kargenian Photography


It seemed as if Hopsin had come out of nowhere. Splashing onto the hip-hop scene in 2012, Hopsin debuted on XXL’s Top Ten Freshman of the Year, landed a spot on MTV2’s “Sucker Free Sunday” with Tech N9ne, and in the summer, released “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5,” which currently sits with over 35 million views on Youtube.

This past year, Hopsin released his third full-length LP, “Knock Madness,” and is currently on a national headlining 45 date tour.

So how did Hopsin become so big? By continuing to refine an ethos of smallness.

Though he dwells in a genre mainly fixed upon ostentation, Hopsin refuses to become uprooted from his upbringings.

After struggling with larger record labels, he started his own independent label Funk Volume, and he has groomed the company into a successful business model. His lyrics range from raw honesty to playful and cruel mockery, and somewhere in between he manages to find the human he actually is. Hopsin has sustained his success by delivering excellence to a specific, hungry audience. “Knock Madness is the product of this conglomeration of, well, madness.

And madness is exactly what Hopsin brought to Irving Plaza on Saturday night.

Playing to a sold out crowd in the snug venue, Hopsin took the stage following sets by Bronx native YC the Cynic, and rap-battle MC Soul Khan.

Unlike other artists who try to separate themselves from their fanbase, Hopsin strives to connect to his followers, and this was apparent multiple times throughout the show. He opened on a rather serious note, laying down “I Need Help,” a track that explores Hopsin’s travels through depression and his peers’ reaction to his breakdown. Yet almost immediately, this energy was channeled into a hype, and a few songs later Hop leaped in to the fans and crowd-surfed to the balcony and back again.

The set-list ranged from new material off of “Knock Madness” to Hopsin’s first mixtape. He wasn’t afraid to take shots at his detractors, especially during tracks as “How You Like Me Now.” But as quickly as his raw aggression was laid over bars, Hopsin brought back the party energy.

This back and forth tonal shift was present throughout the night. Donning an afro-wig and 80’s-esque sunglasses, Hopsin brought six fans on stage to dance along to “Gimmie That Money,” before kicking them off in as dramatic a fashion as he brought them on.

During “Lunch Time Cypher,” Hopsin delivered the most entertaining aspect of the night — bringing random MC’s from the crowd to freestyle alongside him. Passion MC and Deebo spit fantastic bars that were received quite well by the crowd.

After performing for over 90 minutes, Hopsin closed his set with “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5,” in which the crowd gladly recited along.

As if to certify Hopsin’s set with approval, Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels was in attendance for the show.

All in all, Irving Plaza was treated to a true show of hip-hop talent this past Saturday.