The Infamous

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Infamous
Studio album by Mobb Deep
Released April 25, 1995
Recorded January 1994 - February 1995
Battery Studios, Platinum Island Studios, Firehouse Studios, and Unique Recording in New York City.
Genre East Coast hip hop, Hardcore hip hop
Length 66:51
Label Loud/RCA/BMG Records
07863-66480
Producer Havoc, Prodigy, The Abstract,
Matt Life, Schott Free
Mobb Deep chronology
Juvenile Hell
(1993)
The Infamous
(1995)
Hell on Earth
(1996)
Singles from The Infamous
  1. "Shook Ones Pt. II"
    Released: October 28, 1994
  2. "Survival of the Fittest"
    Released: April 1, 1995
  3. "Temperature's Rising"
    Released: September 18, 1995
  4. "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)"
    Released: January 22, 1996

The Infamous is the second studio album by the American hip hop duo Mobb Deep, released April 25, 1995, on Loud Records. The album features guest appearances from Nas, Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, A Tribe Called Quest member Q-Tip, and close Mobb Deep affiliate Big Noyd. Embedded with hyper-visual lyricism, dark soundscapes, gritty narratives, and hard beats, it marked Mobb Deep's transition from a relatively unknown rap duo to an influential and commercially successful one.

Upon its release, The Infamous achieved notable commercial success. It debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200, and number three on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The album produced three main singles, which all achieved varying degrees of chart success, with "Shook Ones Pt. II" being the most successful. On June 26, 1995, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[1] Left-over songs from the album were released along with Mobb Deep's 2014 album The Infamous Mobb Deep.

The album's haunting style, defined by its evocative melodies, rugged beats, and lyrics dealing with crime and poverty in inner city neighborhoods reflected the dark side of New York's urban landscape in a manner that received special recognition and critical praise. Along with albums such as Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Illmatic and Ready to Die, The Infamous is widely credited as a major contributor to the East Coast Renaissance. Furthermore, the album is credited with helping to redefine the sound of hardcore hip-hop, using its production style, which incorporated eerie piano loops, distorted synthesizers, eighth-note hi-hats, and sparse bass lines.

Background[edit]

While still in their late-teens, Mobb Deep released their first album, Juvenile Hell, on 4th & B'way Records in spring 1993. The album included production from several revered New York based producers, including Large Professor, DJ Premier, and Public Enemy affiliate Kerwin Young, and included the underground single "Hit It from the Back". Due to Juvenile Hell's failure to achieve significant commercial and critical success, the duo was dropped from their label several months after the album's release.[2] Havoc and Prodigy later described Juvenile Hell as a "learning experience".[2]

In late summer of 1993, Loud Records was looking for another group to sign, owing to the success of Wu-Tang Clan's first single, "Protect Ya Neck", and by fall 1993, the label had signed Mobb Deep.[2] Recording for the album began in early 1994, and ended almost one year later in early 1995. Unlike the duo's first album, The Infamous was almost entirely self-produced by Havoc and Prodigy, with outside help from Matt Life, Schott Free and Q-Tip (credited as the Abstract).

Producer Matt Life later recalled Q-Tip's involvements, stating, "Tip was very involved in The Infamous from early on. Probably more than people know. Tip was just a fan of theirs and I knew him from way back, so he was really helpful, giving them advice. Then he came in later in the sessions and said he'd help mix a couple records. And then he ended up picking a couple of records they did to re-do. Except for "Drink Away the Pain", the songs that Tip produced were already a full song before he got to them. He liked the lyrics on those original songs, but he re-did the beats. It was the same song title, same hook, same rhymes, just new beats."[3] Havoc later commented "Q-Tip definitely bent his style a little bit to get with what we was doing. Like with "Drink Away the Pain" you see him trying to get gangsta with it."[4]

On the group's decision to handle most of the production, Havoc later commented, "We started producing because other producers was giving us shit that we didn't like, or they was just charging too much. I didn't know nothing about producing music at the time, but I learned by watching others."[5] The style of production on The Infamous was part of a change in New York hip-hop from upbeat and jazz-influenced, into raw, gritty beats. This style of production, often characterized by dissonant, minor key samples and heavily filtered bass lines became a hallmark of mid-1990s New York rap.

Reception[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album spent 18 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at number 15, and it also spent 34 weeks on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, peaking at number three. The Infamous was certified Gold in sales by the RIAA on June 26, 1995.[1]

Initial reaction[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[6]
Entertainment Weekly B+[7]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[8]
NME 8/10[9]
Pitchfork Media 10/10[10]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[11]
The Source 5/5 stars[12]
Spin 9/10[9]
Vibe favorable[13]

Upon its release, The Infamous received mostly positive reviews. Entertainment Weekly's Tiarra Mukherjee gave it a B+ rating, stating "Over mostly self-produced, bare-bones beats, the pair's hard-edged rhymes paint a chilling picture of life on their mean streets, New York City's Queensbridge Housing Projects. Underground rap-heads, and those who can break away from Jeep beats will rejoice."[7] In its initial review, The Source gave The Infamous four and a half out of five "mics", with Dimitry Leger stating "Mobb Deep earn credibility, winning the crucial battle between style and substance, who's real and who's a move-faker. Havoc and Prodigy simply report what they know."[14]

Elliott Wilson from Vibe wrote a favorable review of the album as well, and stated "Each song is a different chapter in the hard street life Havoc and Prodigy have experienced in their Queensbridge neighborhood ... While describing their lives with brutal realism and raw imagery, Havoc's love for his hometown hits you in the head like a Mike Tyson comeback punch."[13] NME gave the album an eight out of 10 rating, and described it as "Shuttering nitro beats and scratchy jazz samples (that) cut back to reverberating piano chords and odd squealing horn breaks. As rappers they bring the clipped, rolling style of Rakim or EPMD, adding a chill menace to neighborhood boasts like 'Right Back at You' and 'Eye For a Eye.'"[9] Rolling Stone magazine originally rated the album three and a half out of five stars, and called it "a darkly nihilistic masterpiece".[9]

Retrospect[edit]

Since its initial release, The Infamous has earned additional critical praise and has been widely regarded as a cornerstone album of New York hardcore rap.[6] Allmusic's Steve Huey gave it a five star rating, and commented "The Infamous is Mobb Deep's masterpiece, a relentlessly bleak song cycle that's been hailed by hardcore rap fans as one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever recorded [...] it has all the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama. That's partly because of the cinematic vision behind the duo's detailed narratives, but it's also a tribute to how well the raw, grimy production evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting." Huey further stated

"This is hard, underground hip-hop that demands to be met on its own terms, with few melodic hooks to draw the listener in. Similarly, there's little pleasure or relief offered in the picture of the streets Mobb Deep paints here: They inhabit a war zone where crime and paranoia hang constantly in the air. Gangs are bound together by a code of fierce loyalty, relying wholly on one another for survival in a hopeless environment. Hostile forces — cops, rivals, neighborhood snitches are potentially everywhere, and one slip around the wrong person can mean prison or death."[6]

—Steve Huey

In 2004, The Source re-rated the album to the perfect five "mics" and stated "Prodigy's thugged-out entertainment and Havoc's sonic production on cuts like the bone-chilling 'Shook Ones Pt. ll' and the stick-up-kid anthem 'Give Up The Goods' proved to be timeless street joints in the same vein as 'Life's a Bitch' and 'You Gots To Chill.' The album was a staple for all hardheaded delinquents comin' up in the game."[15] Rolling Stone also re-rated the album in 2004 to a maximum five, while calling The Infamous "one of the greatest rap albums of the '90s".[11] Similar to The Source, XXL magazine gave it a classic rating of "XXL" in its retrospective 2007 issue.[16]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)"   Albert Johnson, Kejuan Muchita Mobb Deep 4:24
2. "The Infamous Prelude"       2:12
3. "Survival of the Fittest"   Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 3:43
4. "Eye For a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)" (featuring Nas and Raekwon) Johnson, Muchita, Nasir Jones,
Cory Woods
Mobb Deep 4:54
5. "Just Step Prelude"   Johnson, TaJuan Perry   1:06
6. "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)" (featuring Big Noyd) Johnson, Muchita, Jonathan Davis, Perry, Mayfield Small Jr. The Abstract 4:02
7. "Temperature's Rising" (featuring Crystal Johnson) Johnson, Muchita, Davis, Patrice Rushen, Freddie Washington The Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.) 5:00
8. "Up North Trip"   Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 4:58
9. "Trife Life"   Johnson, Muchita, Michael Henderson Mobb Deep 5:19
10. "Q.U.- Hectic"   Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 4:55
11. "Right Back At You" (featuring Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and Big Noyd) Johnson, Muchita, Dennis Coles, Woods, Perry Mobb Deep, Schott Free (co.) 4:52
12. "The Grave Prelude"       0:30
13. "Cradle to the Grave"   Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 5:16
14. "Drink Away the Pain (Situations)" (featuring Q-Tip) Johnson, Muchita, Davis, The Headhunters The Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.) 4:44
15. "Shook Ones Pt. II"   Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 5:24
16. "Party Over" (featuring Big Noyd) Johnson, Muchita, Perry Mobb Deep, Matt Life (co.) 5:40
Sample credits
  • "The Start of Your Ending" contains a sample from "Maybe Tomorrow" by Grant Green.
  • "Survival of the Fittest" contains a sample from "Skylark" by The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn.
  • "Eye for a Eye" contains a sample from "I Wish You Were Here" by Al Green.
  • "Give Up the Goods" contains a sample from "That's All Right With Me" by Esther Phillips.
  • "Temperature's Rising" contains samples from "UFO" by ESG, "Where There Is Love" by Patrice Rushen, and an interpolation of "Body Heat" by Quincy Jones.
  • "Up North Trip" contains samples from "To Be With You" by The Fatback Band, and "I'm Tired Of Giving" by The Spinners.
  • "Trife Life" and "Q.U. — Hectic" contain samples from "You Are My Starship" by Norman Connors.
  • "Right Back at You" contains a sample from "Benjamin" by Les McCann.
  • "Cradle to the Grave" contains a sample from "And If I Had" by Teddy Pendergrass.
  • "Drink Away the Pain" contains a sample from "I Remember I Made You Cry" by The Headhunters.
  • "Shook Ones Pt. II" contains samples from "Dirty Feet" by Daly Wilson Big Band, "Jessica" by Herbie Hancock, "Kitty With The Bent Frame" by Quincy Jones, and "Thackeray Meets Faculty" by Ron Grainer.
  • "Party Over" contains samples from "Lonely Fire" by Miles Davis, and "Outside Love" by Brethren.

Personnel[edit]

Chart history[edit]

Chart positions from Billboard magazine (North America)

Album[edit]

Year Chart positions
Billboard 200 Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
1995 15 3

Singles[edit]

Year Song Chart positions
Billboard Hot 100 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Hot Rap Singles Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales
1995 Shook Ones Pt. II 59 52 7 7
Survival of the Fittest 69 60 10 6
Temperature's Rising 33 9

Accolades[edit]

  • Information regarding accolades is extracted from acclaimedmusic.net,[17]except for lists with additional sources.
  • An asterisk (*) indicates unordered lists.
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums[18] 2008 74
Best Rap Albums of 1995[19] 2008 4
Blender 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die 2003 *
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 *
Vibe 51 Albums representing a Generation, a Sound and a Movement 2004 *
Hip Hop Connection United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005 2005 4
Melody Maker Albums of the Year 1995 28
Pop Sweden Albums of the Year 1995 11
OOR Netherlands Albums of the Year 1995 43
Spex Germany Albums of the Year 1995 13

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Gold and Platinum Database Search at Riaa.com". Archived from the original on December 21, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:267
  3. ^ Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:269.
  4. ^ Coleman, Brian 2007. P:272.
  5. ^ Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:266
  6. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. Review: The Infamous. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-09-21.
  7. ^ a b Mukherjee, Tiarra. Review: The Infamous. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-03-19.
  8. ^ Siegmund, Heidi. Review: The Infamous. Los Angeles Times. P. 68. May 14, 1995.
  9. ^ a b c d e Columnist. Review snipets: The Infamous. cduniverse.com. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
  10. ^ http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/19240-mobb-deep-the-infamous-the-infamous-mobb-deep/
  11. ^ a b Hoard, Christian. Review: The Infamous. Rolling Stone. P:547. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  12. ^ Kazeem (August 4, 2010). The Complete List Of 5 Mic Hip-Hop Classics. The Source.
  13. ^ a b Wilson, Elliott. The Infamous. Vibe. Retrieved on 2010-03-19.
  14. ^ Leger, Dimitry. Review: The Infamous. The Source. Retrieved on 2009-09-21.
  15. ^ Columnist. Re-Rated Albums. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-03-19.
  16. ^ XXL (2007). "Retrospective: XXL Albums". XXL Magazine, December 2007 issue. 
  17. ^ "The Infamous at Acclaimedmusic.net". Retrieved December 31, 2006. 
  18. ^ Adaso, Henry. About.com's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums. About.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  19. ^ Adaso, Henry. Best Rap Albums of 1995. About.com. Retrieved 2010-05-10.

References[edit]

External links[edit]