Friday, January 21, 2005

Mobb Deep: QB’s Finest

By: Harrun Hines

Mobb Deep knows all about drama. The official Queensbridge murderers have been through it all from facing down critics, to suffering through personal problems, and even beefs with both Tupac and Jay-Z that, for most artists, would have been career ending. In the entertainment industry only the strong survive. With over 10 years in the game the duo has proven themselves to be survivors. With their highly anticipated new album, Amerikaz Nightmare, and their new label, Infamous records, Mobb Deep is going to show all the non-believers why they’re called the Infamous.
“In order to survive doing this you got to be serious about the music. It’s not a game,” said Prodigy. “You can’t just be doing this to see yourself on TV or hear yourself on the radio.”
Hailing from Queens, NY Prodigy and Havoc met while both attending Graphic Arts High School in Manhattan. They were able to form a strong bond over their similar upbringings and their love for hip-hop music. After writing rhymes together and developing their skill, they began hanging out around the Def Jam headquarters trying to get noticed. After getting the attention of Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, the duo gained a record deal with 4th & Broadway and by 1993 released their debut album, Juvenile Hell. Though the album wasn't that successful in sales or critical reviews, it served as a fitting platform for the duo to launch its career.
“We started doing this in like ’92 or ’93. We were like 14 or 15 years old,” said Prodigy. “The transition between then and now has been ill.”
Not only did Mobb Deep produce its own beats; they also refined and perfected their street-smart, poetic approach centered on ‘hood life. Prodigy and Havoc's brutally honest reality rapping earned them a deal in 1995 with, then up-and-coming, Loud records. They released The Infamous, Mobb Deep's classic, second album which became a landmark for East Coast hardcore rap just as Reasonable Doubt, Enter the Wu-Tang, and Ready to Die had done when they were released. The album’s success was largely attributed to the single, “Shook Ones, Pt. 2.” A song that is still held as a ‘hood classic and a club favorite.
“We try to make music that will last forever,” said Prodigy. “Even though we might not, the music will and that’s why we been able to survive for so long.”
It was also during this year that Mobb Deep would clash with one of the greatest rappers of all time. After responding to the Doggpound’s NewYork, NY with L.A., L.A. they found themselves mentioned on Tupac’s Biggie/Bad Boy diss track, “Hit ‘em up.”
“The drama don’t ever stop. It always stay on,” said Prodigy. “We heard the Doggpound joint and was like ‘nobody saying nothing so we will’. We’ll always step up to the plate and handle our business.”
In 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth. This album once again found the duo spitting cinematic rhymes over gritty tracks that communicated the dark side of life in the most notorious projects in Queens, New York.
By late ‘99, Mobb Deep released Murda Muzik. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard album chart, even though the album was heavily bootlegged. With leaked rough versions of the nearly 30 songs on the streets and the Internet the album quickly went platinum on the strength of “Quiet Storm,” another ‘hood classic and club favorite.
In late 2000, Prodigy released his long-awaited solo album, H.N.I.C., which saw collaborations with outside producers such as Alchemist and Rockwilder. On H.N.I.C. and in an interview with The Source that same year, Prodigy referenced his illness during the time following Murda Muzik. During this same time Mobb Deep, Prodigy in particular found unwillingly thrown into a battle between two of New York's biggest rappers, Jay-Z and Nas.
After being the subject of ridicule from the infamous Summer Jam incident then being the subject of an entire verse on Jay-Z’s “Takeover,” the Mobb suffered a lapse in popularity. Most people wondered if there was anyway for the duo to come back from such a powerful blow to their image and street credibility. But the Mobb proved all doubters wrong, not by going after Jay-Z but going back to the lab and concentrating on why they’re here in the first place, the music.
“The battling and beefing shit is not what we’re about. That’s not why we do this music, that’s not how we got started. Other people start, and save their careers, dissing other people but that’s not how we started,” said Prodigy. “We came into the game making good music. We just trying to make hit records. But if a situation come, we’re going to handle our business and then get back to doing what we here for.”
In the wake of the Jay-Z/ Nas beef Mobb Deep still stands strong. They’ve released more mixed tapes and the Murda Muzik movie on DVD starring Infamous clique member, Big Noyd. The new album, Amerikaz Nightmare, dropped in August. It features production by the Mobb themselves and others including Kanye West and Alchemist.
“We just started Infamous records. We’re trying to get our label situated and start getting some big paper off of this shit. This is what we been working for, doing this all these years. The Amerika’s Nightmare album is the first album on our label. We got Big Noyd’s album coming out on Infamous, Littles, he’s a new artist coming out of Queensbridge, and we got Alchemist album coming out too,” said Prodigy. “Me and Havoc are going to start dropping our solo albums together from now on. When the next solo album comes it’s going to be a double album. It’s going to be H.N.I.C. and H.A.V.O.C. album together.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
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