Mobb Deep in 2013
New York, United States
|Years active||1992-2012, 2013-present|
|Labels||4th & B'way/Island/PolyGram Records
G-Unit Records/Interscope/Universal Records
|Associated acts||Infamous Mobb, Q-Tip, Capone-N-Noreaga, Big Noyd, Cormega, Lil Cease, 50 Cent, The Alchemist, Tragedy Khadafi, G-Unit, Mack Wilds, Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, M.O.P.|
Mobb Deep is an American hip hop duo from Queensbridge, Queens, New York, United States that consists of Havoc and Prodigy. The duo is "one of the most critically acclaimed hardcore East Coast Hip-Hop groups." The group is best known for its dark, hardcore delivery as exemplified by the iconic "Shook Ones (Part II)." Mobb Deep has become one of the most successful rap duos in hip hop, having sold over three million records.
Two of their albums have been critically acclaimed, The Infamous and Hell on Earth, both of which are considered to be classics among avid Hip-Hop listeners and general fans. They are partially credited for the resurgence of East Coast rap in the early to mid-1990s. The group briefly disbanded in 2012 after a feud broke out between its members, but that has since been resolved and they have reunited for a 20th anniversary tour and new self-titled album. Their eighth studio album The Infamous Mobb Deep was released on April 1, 2014.
Havoc and Prodigy met at the High School of Art and Design in New York City. Originally dubbing themselves the Poetical Prophets, the duo later changed its name to Mobb Deep to "reflect their reputation on the streets." Before the group's career beginnings, a fifteen-year-old Prodigy was featured on the classic movie soundtrack to Boyz n the Hood on Hi-Five's track "Too Young". In 1993, when Havoc and Prodigy were nineteen, they released their debut album, Juvenile Hell which was promoted by the single "Peer Pressure." The album sold poorly and eventually met with harsh reviews that dismissed the duo as just another hardcore group with little to distinguish it from the rest of the hip-hop world, despite production by DJ Premier and Large Professor. Moreover, in 1993 Havoc made a guest appearance on the critically acclaimed Black Moon album Enta Da Stage on a song titled "U Da Man." In 1994 the duo released a single titled "Shook Ones Part 1," which contained verses that later were incorporated into their most commercially successful song, "Shook Ones Part 2."
Rise to success
The group saw its first major success with their second album, The Infamous, released in 1995. Mobb Deep catapulted to the top of the hardcore hip-hop scene through Havoc and Prodigy's straightforward narration of street life. In this album, Mobb Deep portrayed the struggles of living in New York City's Queensbridge Houses where Havoc grew up. Following the release of The Infamous, Mobb Deep became some of the most prolific artists of the East Coast in regards to the hardcore hip hop subgenre. The production of this album was very dark and sample-based thanks to Havoc, who produced the beats from this point forward. Furthermore, the smash hit single "Shook Ones Pt. II", a remix to the hit Shook Ones, received critical acclaim and was well-regarded within the Hip Hop community. "Shook Ones Pt. II" showcased Havoc and Prodigy as accomplished masters of their field. The song brought raw aggression and an air of menace to proceedings through the impact of the production and the vocal performances.
Mobb Deep's third album, Hell on Earth was released in 1996 debuting at number six on the Billboard Album Chart; the album continued the duo's portrayal of harsh street life while further pushing them to the forefront of the hardcore Hip Hop scene along with contemporary East Coast Rappers like The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan collective, and fellow Queensbridge Associate Nas. Nas as well as Method Man and Raekwon of the Wu Tang Clan appear on 'Hell on Earth'.
In 1996, they appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, America is Dying Slowly alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan and Fat Joe among many other prominent Hip Hop artists. This compilation was solely meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men and this compilation was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source Magazine, a Hip Hop Publication. 1997 Mobb Deep was feature on Frankie Cutlass "Politics & Bullsh*t" album track title "Know Da Game" which also feature Kool G Rap. In 1998, the duo collaborated with a reggae dancehall rapper named, Bounty Killer on the track "Deadly Zone" for the soundtrack to Blade. In 1999, they released the highly anticipated Murda Muzik album in which despite extensive bootlegging, the majority of its songs were unintentionally leaked which resulted in delays in the official album release. When the album officially released it eventually debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and quickly received Platinum Certification and further promoted by the popular single "Quiet Storm." Shortly afterward, Prodigy released his long-awaited solo album H.N.I.C in which the artist collaborated with fellow artist on the likes of, (B.G. and N.O.R.E.) and lastly, producers (including The Alchemist, Rockwilder, and Just Blaze).
East Coast vs. West Coast feud
Mobb Deep was part of the infamous East Coast vs West Coast Hip Hop rivalry that was fueled and increasingly promoted by the private media. The beef started when Snoop Dogg and the West Coast group, Tha Dogg Pound, released "New York, New York" which Mobb Deep, along with Capone-N-Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi responded with the song "L.A L.A" (This song can be found on Capone-N-Noreaga's debut album The War Report). This song was released during rapper Tupac Shakur's final days of incarceration. Members of Tupac's group, Outlawz, allegedly attended a Mobb Deep concert; they then visited with Tupac over public rumoring that the duo had snubbed them at the concert. Tupac dissed Mobb Deep on multiple tracks, including: "Hit 'Em Up" and "When We Ride on Our Enemies" in which Tupac makes light of Prodigy's sickle-cell disease. Additional Tupac diss tracks include: "Bomb First (My Second Reply)" where Tupac said "You're barely breathin'" and "Against All Odds," both of which were released on Tupac's posthumous studio album, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. Mobb Deep retaliated on their 1996 release of Hell on Earth, which contains a diss track entitled "Drop A Gem On 'Em."
2000 to 2010
Mobb Deep released Infamy while in 2001 the song "Burn" (featuring Vita) was perceived as a response to Jay-Z's diss song "Takeover" on The Blueprint, as was "Crawlin'," in which Prodigy's two verses both mention Jay-Z. The album marked a major stylistic change in which the duo moved away from a raw, minimalist, stripped-down beat toward a commercial friendly in terms with such songs as "Hey Luv (Anything)." This transition fostered accusations of "selling out." They eventually led the group's fanbase upset and many long-time fans who did not wish to see them veer away from their original style eventually lost some interest in their music. Although these stylistic adjustments opened up by Mobb Deep to a wider audience, many critics and fans consider their style change as a detriment to Mobb Deep's street image and record sales (most evident when comparing the platinum-selling Murda Muzik to Infamy which struggled to attain gold-record status). In 2003, the group split with Loud Records and released Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape, in which Havoc and Prodigy proclaimed themselves "free agents" and addressed the group's split with its old label and its search for a new label. Jive Records signed the duo later in the year through a deal with the group’s own imprint. Mobb Deep then released Amerikaz Nightmare in 2004 which was seen by the general hip-hop audience as a "weaker release"; this resulted in poor sales and the group’s subsequent departure from the label. Mobb Deep also gained some fame after "Dirty New Yorker" was featured in Grand Theft Auto IV. Today, as a result of various mergers, all of Mobb Deep's studio albums from 1995 to 2004 are owned by Sony Music Entertainment.
In June 2005, Prodigy and Havoc announced they had signed with 50 Cent's label G-Unit Records. The move was surprising among Hip Hop fans because 50 Cent had ridiculed the group in his song "Piggy Bank." 50 Cent had a connection to Mobb Deep as he grew up in Queens and Havoc had provided production on projects by G-Unit, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. The relationship strengthened as Prodigy and 50 Cent each received tattoos to pledge their loyalty to each other. Prodigy has the word "G-Unit" tattooed on the side of his right hand and 50 Cent has "Mobb Deep" tattooed on his wrist. As part of their contract with G-Unit, both Prodigy and Havoc were given new Porsches. Later, Mobb Deep signed different artists onto Infamous/G-Unit Records including Nyce, 40 Glocc and Gail Gotti. Mobb Deep released their eighth album, Blood Money in 2006. It features G-Unit members 50 Cent, Kav Thee Sav, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo and Young Buck as well as Mary J. Blige and Nate Dogg. In 2006, Mobb Deep became the first American hip-hop duo to perform in India, via VH1's Hip Hop Hustle. It performed in a nightclub called Enigma. In late 2009, Mobb Deep were released from their contract with 50 Cent's G-Unit label.
2011 to present: Break-up, reconciliation and The Infamous Mobb Deep
On April 4, 2011, a possible new Mobb Deep single named "Dog Shit," this song features rapper Nas. This is the first official song by Mobb Deep since Prodigy made his return from jail and their first consensual collaboration with Nas in nearly ten years due to their feud (notable exception: member Prodigy & Nas appearing on producer The Alchemist's album 1st Infantry, on song "Tick Tock"). It is produced by Havoc and Alchemist. In the longrun of their relationship, they are also recording an upcoming, self-titled album (which will be their ninth studio album) with production from Havoc, The Alchemist, Sid Roams, DJ Premier, MTK, Cardiak and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League as well as other guest artists such as; Rick Ross, Lil' Kim, Wiz Khalifa, Odd Future and Nas on their new album. On November 21, 2011, the duo released an EP called Black Cocaine.
On July 27, 2012, Havoc told AllHipHop in interview that group is on an indefinite hiatus. According to HipHopDX, Havoc and Prodigy had fallen out after Havoc blasted Prodigy on Twitter, and eventually, a sound clip leaked of him taking numerous shots at his former Mobb Deep comrade during their concert at SXSW. At first, Havoc claimed that he was hacked. However, he then confirmed it was him because he felt that Twitter was not a place to resolve a beef. He also stated that he had a diss track aimed at Prodigy in store for the making. "Same Shit Different Day" was recorded to take a direct hit towards Prodigy. The song later turned out to be "Separated (Real from the Fake)," which is slated to appear on Havoc's upcoming solo album 13.
However in January 2013 Prodigy said that he is sure he would record with Havoc in the future. Mobb Deep appeared on Papoose's debut album The Nacirema Dream on the track "Aim, Shoot". They later reunited and performed for Paid Dues on March 30, 2013 and an international 20th anniversary tour starting in May 2013. On March 22, 2013 they officially reunited for an interview and explained the whole situation of what happened between them, but went on to say the music is the most important thing and that they had love for each other and have been friends for too long to breakup the friendship.
Around the May 2013 release of Havoc's third studio album, 13 Havoc announced that him and Prodigy had been in the studio for over a month working on the duo's eighth studio album which was already "halfway done." He also stated that he will be doing the entire production on the album. On August 6, 2013, Prodigy said that they had finished nine songs for the album, which will be titled Mobb Deep. On November 4, 2013, Prodigy said The Alchemist, and possibly Action Bronson and Earl Sweatshirt would be among the few guest appearances on the album.
On April 1, 2014, the group released their eighth studio album, The Infamous Mobb Deep, a double album which included one CD with original new music and the other with unreleased tracks from sessions during the recording of their second studio album, The Infamous. This album was said to be underrated by many in the Hip-Hop community, due to its ranking in some lists of the greatest Hip-Hop albums of 2014, though it also received many mentions in the greatest Hip-Hop albums of 2014 according to different websites.
- Juvenile Hell (1993)
- The Infamous (1995)
- Hell on Earth (1996)
- Murda Muzik (1999)
- Infamy (2001)
- Amerikaz Nightmare (2004)
- Blood Money (2006)
- The Infamous Mobb Deep (2014)
- Allmusic biography
- Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 323.
- Shapiro, Peter, 2005, The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, p. 258-259.
- Shapiro, Peter, 2005, The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, p. 259.
- Allmusic review
- Paid Dues Festival lineup
- Mobb Deep: Information from Answers.com Answers.com, Retrieved on August 14, 2011
- Mobb Deep MTV, Accessed 24 July 2007
- Mobb Deep and Jive Records split MTV, Accessed 24 July 2007
- Havoc Talks Nas, Wiz Khalifa, Odd Future, New Album (Video) HipHopSite.com, May 27, 2011, Retrieved on August 14, 2011
- Horowitz, Steven J. (2012-07-27). "Havoc Says Mobb Deep Is On An "Indefinite Hiatus," Confirms He Blasted Prodigy On Twitter". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2012-12-18.
- Burgess, Omar (2013-01-10). "Prodigy Says He's Sure There Will Be Another Mobb Deep Album | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Horowitz, Steven J. (2013-02-06). "Mobb Deep To Perform At Paid Dues Festival 2013, Embark On 20th Anniversary Tour | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Cooper, Roman (2013-03-23). "Mobb Deep Officially Reunites, Ready To Move On From Past Beefs & Record New Music | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Meara, Paul (2013-05-12). "Havoc Says That Prodigy Isn't Gay & Speaks On New Mobb Deep Album | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- "Prodigy Dishes On Book, New Music, And Making Movies - XXL". Xxlmag.com. 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Mr. Mecc and Yohance Kyles. "EXCLUSIVE: Prodigy Gives Props To Earl Sweatshirt, Details New Mobb Deep Album". AllHipHop.com. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
- Interview with Prodigy - Prodigy Interview of 2006, Hip Hop Publication
- Prodigy Interview of 2007, Hip Hop Publication