Survival of the Fittest (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"Survival of the Fittest"
Grayscale photo of Mobb Deep with Mobb Deep logo at bottom left corner and "Survival of the Fittest" text at top right corner.
Single by Mobb Deep
from the album The Infamous
Released May 29, 1995
Format CD, 12″ vinyl, cassette
Recorded 1994
Genre East Coast hip hop, hardcore hip hop, gangsta rap
Length 3:43
Label Loud, RCA, BMG,
Producer(s) Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep singles chronology
"Shook Ones (Part II)"
"Survival of the Fittest"
"Temperature's Rising"
"Shook Ones (Part II)"
"Survival of the Fittest"
"Temperature's Rising"

"Survival Of The Fittest" is a song by American hip hop duo Mobb Deep from their 2nd studio album, The Infamous (1995). It was released as the second single from the aforementioned album on May 29, 1995 by Loud. The song was produced by Havoc, using a sample of 1976's song "Skylark" by The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn.

The single had mainstream success, it peaked at no. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hit the Top 10 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. The song received acclaim from music critics and is widely considered a classic of 1990s New York hip hop, along with the lead single from the album, "Shook Ones Pt. II".


"Survival of the Fittest" was produced by Havoc at his apartment in Queensbridge, where the duo worked on the album,[2] recorded at Battery Studios, and mixed at Unique Recording Studios.[3] The instrumetal for the song is based on a sample from 1976's song "Skylark" by The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn.[4][1] According to Prodigy, Havoc didn't like the beat at first and wanted to delete it. Prodigy asked him to play the beat to their friends and they convinced him to keep it. The lyrics for the song were written in one day. According to Schott Free, Loud's executive producer and A&R, Q-Tip helped the duo with drums for the song. In the interview with Complex magazine Schott Free said the drums "[intensify] the entire record" and "[add] so much" on top of the original beat, which he described as "ill", "gloomy", and "street". The original instrumental also featured sample of a James Brown's song, but it was removed after the label couldn't come to an agreement with publishers.[2]

Release and promotion[edit]

"Survival of the Fittest" was released as the second single from The Infamous on May 29, 1995.[5] On July 8 Loud Records arranged a paintball competition to promote the single. Loud Records' artists Cella Dwellas and Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Loud Records' staff joined Mobb Deep in the competition.[6][7]

Music video for "Survival of the Fittest" was also released. It was directed by Musa "Choice" Moore[8] and shot in Queensbridge.[9] The video features cameos from Nas and Puff Daddy.[10]

In 2015, Mobb Deep released a remix of "Survival of the Fittest" in collaboration with ESPN.[11] It was used in the network's NBA Countdown show.[12]

Critical reception[edit]

"Survival of the Fittest" received acclaim by critics. Vibe noted that the song "[features] Mobb Deep's usual combination of deep lyrics, sinister keyboard chords, earth-shattering bass, and crisp drum tracks".[13] Los Angeles Times praised the song, calling it "a mosaic of slow, stealthy beats that rarely lets in any melodic light" and commending the duo's "dark poetic talents".[14]


"Survival of the Fittest" is widely considered a classic of 1990s New York hip hop.[15][16][17][18][19][20] Consequence of Sound stated that it's "as gritty as New York hip-hop could get".[21] HipHopDX called it "one of the most melancholy, rigid Hip Hop songs of all-time".[22]

According to Pitchfork, the line "There's a war going on outside no man is safe from" became the album's most famous and often quoted lyrics.[23] Complex named it one of the 100 best opening lines in hip hop history and wrote, "Prodigy's opening bars on "Survival of the Fittest" convey the high-wire balancing act that is life in America's most dangerous neighborhoods with a single phrase".[24]

"Survival of the Fittest" was featured in the soundtrack for the video game Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.[25]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
  1. "Survival of the Fittest" [LP Version] – 3:43
  2. "Survival of the Fittest" [Remix] – 4:20
Side B
  1. "Survival of the Fittest" [Extended Version] – 5:19
  2. "Survival of the Fittest" [Remix Instrumental] – 5:20
  3. "Survival of the Fittest" [Acappella] – 4:17


Chart (1995) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 69
US Hot Rap Singles[27] 10
US Hot R&B Singles[28] 60


  1. ^ a b Caldwell, Brandon (21 October 2014). "The Sample That Made Mobb Deep's 'Survival Of The Fittest' A Classic". Vibe. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Ahmed, Insanul; Callahan-Bever, Noah; Kondo, Toshitaka. "The Making of Mobb Deep's 'The Infamous'". Complex. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  3. ^ The Infamous (liner notes). Mobb Deep. Loud Records. 1995. 
  4. ^ "The Sample For Mobb Deep's 'Survival Of The Fittest' Has Finally Been Found". Uproxx. 21 October 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Survival of the Fittest - Mobb Deep | Release Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  6. ^ Nelson, Havelock (12 August 1995). "Mobb Deep Gets Splattered By DJs In 'Infamous' Paintball Competition". Billboard. p. 19. 
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 1467. ISBN 9780857125958. 
  8. ^ Russell, Deborah (15 April 1995). "Christian Video Outlets On A Roll". Billboard. p. 35. 
  9. ^ Kimble, Julian. "New York City Rappers Who Deserve Streets Named After Them". Complex. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  10. ^ Ahmed, Insanul. "All In the Video: Diddy's 10 Best Cameos". Complex. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Baker, Soren. "Mobb Deep "Survival of the Fittest EP" Release Date, Cover Art, Tracklist & Stream". HipHopDX. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  12. ^ Walsh, Peter. "Listen to Mobb Deep, "Survival of the Fittest (ESPN Remix)"". XXL. Retrieved 10 November 2016. 
  13. ^ Wilson, Elliott (June 1995). "Mobb Deep – The Infamous". Vibe. p. 127. 
  14. ^ Siegmund, Heidi (14 May 1995). "Record Rack – The Infamous". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  15. ^ Mayorga, Dean. "Prodigy Revisits "Survival Of The Fittest;" Talks Mobb Deep Evolution". HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  16. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (8 February 2004). "STYLE; The Sound". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  17. ^ Fernando Jr., S.H. (May 1999). "Home Style". Vibe. p. 89. 
  18. ^ Augustin, Camille (13 May 2015). "Mobb Deep To Remix 'Survival Of The Fittest' For 'NBA Countdwon'". Vibe. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  19. ^ Fleischer, Adam. "Exclusive: Mobb Deep And ESPN Will Remix This Classic Track For The NBA Playoffs". MTV. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  20. ^ Walsh, Peter. "Mobb Deep Is Releasing a "Survival Of The Fittest" Remix for the NBA Playoffs". XXL. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  21. ^ Maider, Ted (29 May 2010). "Dusting 'Em Off: Mobb Deep – The Infamous". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  22. ^ Grant, Andre. "Mobb Deep's Misconception". HipHopDX. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  23. ^ Greene, Jayson. "Mobb Deep: The Infamous / The Infamous Mobb Deep Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  24. ^ "The 100 Best Opening Lines in Rap History". Complex. Retrieved 9 November 2016. 
  25. ^ Cortez, Kevin (6 March 2014). "Is a Sequel to "Marc Eckō's Getting Up" in the Works?". Mass Appeal. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  26. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Singles". Billboard. 8 July 1995. p. 88. Retrieved 8 November 2016. 
  27. ^ "Hot Rap Singles". Billboard. 24 June 1995. p. 27. 
  28. ^ "Hot R&B Singles". Billboard. 24 June 1995. p. 24. 

External links[edit]