Considering Mobb Deep‘s debut, Juvenile Hell is considered execrable by many Hip-Hop and Mobb Deep fans almost makes it nearly non-existent from their discography. For some heads, it’s a rule that when you bring up Mobb Deep and their classics, you never mention that debut (which came out on 4th & B’way Records).
Why? It’s debatable as there are a few gems I dig on there. But even Prodigy (allegedly) doesn’t like it, nor likes to speak on the LP. Rather, it’s their sophomore LP, The Infamous which is given a Ron Burgundy-esque “Kind of a big deal” high praises.
The Infamous turns 20 years old today and is just another rare Hip-Hop album that deserves all it’s acclaim and every synonym one can conjure up for “classic” attached to it. It’s stood the test of time, it can be listened to from front to back without so much as pressing forward/skip on your Walkman, and it received the coveted 5 Mic rating from The Source.
Plus, the skits – we can’t forget about the amazing skits that brought you into Queensbridge. Havoc & P invited you into their apartment building. You felt as if you lived amongst them, walked amongst them. It was like a war movie: when gunshots went off, you felt the snapping of a bullet whiz by your head. When “Right Back At You” came on, I rapped along with a scrunched-up, gas face feeling like f*cking Superman – absorbing that magnetic energy I felt when P rapped the following:
My slugs will put a stop to your hardcore
Ways of action, I grab the gat and
Ain’t no turning back when I start blastin
Pick up the handle and insert the potion
Cock the shit back in a calm like motion
No signs of anger or fear cause you the one in danger
Never share your plans wit a stranger, word is bond
Here’s a few choice facts culled from Brian Coleman’s excellent Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies – some you may know, others you may not. Happy 20th to The Infamous!
On “Temperature’s Rising”
Havoc: That was about a situation my brother was in, and we made a song around it.
Prodigy: We met Q-Tip because we used to go to Def Jam back in the days to try and get on, before we was signed to [Island] 4th & B-Way. And a little altercation happened at Def Jam and someone got shot, and we became a little famous over there. That’s when we met Q-Tip. He was networking there too. Tip was there when the shooting happened. That’s why Def Jam has security there to this day.
On “Eye For An Eye“
Prodigy: We made that track right there, when Nas and Raekwon was in the studio. We did everything like that – as we went along. We called them, and when they arrived, Hav made that beat in like two seconds.
Matt Life: Nas had so much talent, but he never brought the real energy of Queensbridge. Mobb Deep were the ones who brought that energy to tracks, and also were out in public. They used to roll pretty deep… probably ten guys most of the time. And while we’re talking about energy, Raekwon is by far the most animated dude on that track.
Steve Rifkind: That’s one of my favorite records of all time. Not just my favorite of Mobb Deep records, either. Anyone’s records!
On “Shook Ones, Pt. II”
Havoc: “Shook Ones, Pt. I” was actually our first single, before the album was out. It got some play on college radio, but people never really heard it too much. It was aight, but I said to myself “We need something that’s going to be more up-tempo, something that can bang in the clubs.” Then I went back in and did “Shoot Ones, Pt. II.” “Pt. II” was the second single from the album, and it also came out before the album hit. It definitely blew up. I mean, that’s why I’m talking to you now.
Below (via egotripland), P discusses with BAU.EWYK at a pop-up shop in Boston about how “Shook Ones, Pt. II” was nearly deleted:
Released in 1995, as the lead single to The Infamous, Shook Ones (Pt. 2) was heralded as an instant classic. The bombastic label has stood—the song remains a critic and fan favorite, regularly figuring highly on lists of the greatest hip-hop tracks of all-time. Speaking candidly with Frank The Butcher, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy reveals the secrets behind the iconic track. Those drums from the Daly Wilson Big Band and the Herbie Hancock “Jessica” sample? Havoc almost scrapped them; he initially thought the beat was wack! Prodigy also shares the feeling of performing the song and comments on why future generations should recognize what Queensbridge has given to rap music.