Mobb Deep was an American hip hop duo from Queensbridge, Queens, New York. The group consisted of Havoc and Prodigy, and were a hardcore East Coast hip hop group. They were known for their dark, hardcore delivery as exemplified in "Shook Ones (Part II)." Mobb Deep became one of the most successful rap duos in hip hop, having sold over 3 million records. Three of their notable albums were The Infamous (1995), Hell On Earth (1996) and Murda Muzik (1999), and their top hits include "Shook Ones, Pt. II", "Survival of the Fittest" and "Hell on Earth".
In 1991 Havoc and Prodigy originally went by the name "Poetical Prophets" and began making a demo tape. They would find the addresses of record label headquarters on the back of albums, bring a cassette player, and ask passing artists to listen to their music. The only artist who stopped to hear their music was Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest; Prodigy recalled, "[Q-Tip] introduced us to Chris Lighty that day and a bunch of people in the Rush Associated Labels in the Def Jam office—that's how we met everybody." Shortly after, Prodigy signed a solo demo deal with Jive Records and had an uncredited feature on the song "Too Young" by Hi-Five, which appeared on the Boyz n the Hood soundtrack. Jive decided not to sign Poetical Prophets as a duo, however, they were featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source in July 1991, which helped promote their demo Flavor for the Nonbelievers. The following year, the duo changed their name to "Mobb Deep" and signed with 4th & B'way Records, releasing the single "Peer Pressure" in promotion of their debut album Juvenile Hell. The album was released in 1993, and later that year, Havoc made a guest appearance on the Black Moon album Enta da Stage, on a song titled "U da Man".
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. The production of this album was very dark and sample-based thanks to Havoc, who produced the beats from this point forward. Furthermore, the hit single "Shook Ones Pt. II", a remix to the hit Shook Ones, received critical acclaim.
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 Hip Hop scene along with contemporary East Coast Rappers like The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Wu-Tang Clan and fellow Queensbridge rapper Nas. Nas as well as Method Man, Ghostface Killah 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 featured on Frankie Cutlass "Politics & Bullsh*t" album track title "Know Da Game" which also features Kool G Rap. In 1998, the duo collaborated with reggae dancehall artist Bounty Killer on the track "Deadly Zone" for the soundtrack to Blade. In 1999, they released the highly anticipated Murda Muzik album which, despite extensive bootlegging, had the majority of its songs unintentionally leaked. This resulted in delays in the official album release. When the album was officially released, it eventually debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and quickly received Platinum Certification and was further promoted by the popular single "Quiet Storm." Shortly afterward, Prodigy released his long-awaited solo album H.N.I.C in which he collaborated with fellow artists like (B.G., N.O.R.E.) and 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."
“I was happy about it,” Havoc told Jack Thriller. “The n—- saying our names. I didn't know what the f— the beef was about. I didn't even care. I was like damn, did you hear that? 2Pac dissing us. We about to sell some records.” Havoc also revealed that Mobb Deep had never even “crossed paths” with Pac before his death in September 1996. He added, “And we never got a chance to cross paths with him because he passed away,” he said. “I saw him from a long distance but I never met him. [I was a] fan. But didn't even know him.”
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." 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. The record sold poorly and led to the group's departure from the label. 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, Mobb Deep announced they had signed with G-Unit Records. 50 Cent had a connection to Mobb Deep as he grew up in Queens & Havoc had provided production on projects by G-Unit, Lloyd Banks, The Game & Tony Yayo. Mobb Deep released their seventh album, Blood Money in 2006. It features G-Unit members 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo & Young Buck as well as Mary J. Blige & Nate Dogg. In 2006, Mobb Deep became the first American hip hop duo to perform in India, via VH1's Hip Hop Hustle. In late 2009, Mobb Deep were released from their contract with G Unit.
2011–2017: Break-up, reunion, The Infamous Mobb Deep and death of Prodigy
On April 4, 2011, Mobb Deep released a new single called "Dog Shit," featuring rapper Nas. This is the first official song by Mobb Deep since Prodigy's release from jail. It was produced by Havoc and Alchemist.
On July 27, 2012, Havoc told AllHipHop in an interview that the group is on an indefinite hiatus. According to HipHopDX, Mobb Deep had a falling out after Havoc blasted Prodigy on Twitter, and eventually, a sound clip leaked of him taking numerous shots at his former Mobb Deep partner during their concert at SXSW. At first, Havoc claimed that he was hacked. However, he later confirmed it was him and that he had originally denied it 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 the making, "Same Shit Different Day". The song later turned out to be "Separated (Real from the Fake)," which appeared on Havoc's 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 the group officially reunited for an interview and explained that music is the most important thing in their lives and that they had been friends for too long to break up the friendship.
Around the May 2013 release of Havoc's third studio album, 13 Havoc announced that he 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 April 1, 2014, the group released its eighth studio album, The Infamous Mobb Deep, a double album that included one CD with original new music and one with unreleased tracks from sessions from The Infamous.
Mobb Deep helped popularize the 1990s slang called the Dunn language, a term first recorded in the 1999 single "Quiet Storm", in which Prodigy raps: "you's a dick blower, [you] tryin' to speak the Dunn Language?/ "what's the drilly" with that though? "It aint bangin"/ you hooked on Mobb phonics, Infamous 'bonics."
The term "dunn" supposedly originated in the Queensbridge housing projects with an acquaintance of Prodigy's, Bumpy, whose speech impediment prevented him from pronouncing the letter "S", such as in "son". The impediment encouraged him to put the tongue on the two front teeth/palate, making a 'th' or a 'd' sound. Mobb Deep has attempted to claim ownership of this body of slang; additionally, they were going to release an album called The Dunn Language, in 2002, but the project was shelved, due to label issues.
- 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
- Blistein, Jon (June 20, 2017). "Mobb Deep Raper Prodigy Dead at 42". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
- 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
- "Mobb Deep". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-02-27.
- "Paid Dues Festival 2014". www.paidduesfestival.com.
- "Prodigy dead: Mobb Deep rapper dies at age 42". The Independent. 20 June 2017.
- Blisteen, Jon. Mobb Deep Rapper Prodigy Dead at 42. Rolling Stone. Accessed on March 12, 2018.
- James, Andy. The Story of How Mobb Deep Met Q-Tip Is Amazing. DJBooth.net. Accessed on March 12, 2018.
- "Unsigned Hype". The Source (22). July 1991.
- Mobb Deep MTV, Accessed 24 July 2007
- Mobb Deep and Jive Records split MTV, Accessed 24 July 2007
- 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.
- "Mobb Deep rapper Prodigy died from accidental choking the coroner's office confirms". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
- http://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX- (27 September 2011). "Mobb Deep Explains Origins Of Dun Language, Working With Q-Tip". HipHopDX. Retrieved 27 April 2019.