There is no way you can play down the power of words; they can reach deep and move one’s heart and soul. East Coast hip hop is perhaps the best example of how impactful words can be. Composed of complex, deep, and hard-hitting lyrics, hip hop from the East Coast can be intense and thought-provoking. When talking about East Coast hip hop, how can we not mention its precursors? Mobb Deep, the famous American hip-hop duo, took the world by storm with extreme and uncompromising music. Deep, dark, fierce, raw, vivid, and consuming- these words best describe the East Coast gangsta hip hop music created by the well-known duo Mobb Deep. In a way, they introduced the world to the real East Coast hip hop in the mid-1990s. The sale of three million records to their credit speaks about the love and success the duo garnered with their albums, like “The Infamous” (1995), “Hell on Earth” (1996), “Murda Muzik” (1999), and more. Read further to discover more about the most successful rap duo- Mobb Deep.
How did it start?
Rappers Havoc and Prodigy came together to form Mobb Deep. Hailing from Queensbridge, Queens, New York, they went together to Manhattan’s High School of Art and Design. In 1991, they created their first demo tape under the name “Poetical Prophets”. While trying to get known artists to listen to their demo tape outside a record label headquarter, they got acquainted with Chris Lighty and other people in the Rush Associated Labels through Q-Tip, who was the only artist stopping to listen to their music. After getting to know a handful of people in the industry, Prodigy got on board with Jive Records for a solo demo deal. Jive Records made it a point not to sign them as a duo. Prodigy got an opportunity to feature (uncredited) on “Too Young” by Hi-Five. Later, they went on signing a deal with the 4th & B’way Records under the name “Mobb Deep” and released their first album “Juvenile Hell” featuring “Peer Pressure” in the year 1993. In late 93, Havoc got an opportunity to feature in “U da Man” in Black Moon’s Enta da Stage.
Catalogue raisonné: The complete work of Mobb Deep
Their first album was released in 1993, but what made them famous was their second album, “The Infamous”. The songs derived inspiration from Havoc’s life spent in Queensbridge Houses in New York City. Impactfully depicting the struggles of street life, their album made them the true kings of hardcore hip-hop. Havoc produced the beats while Q-Tip helped in mixing and production. They also remixed their hit “Shook Ones” and created “Shook Ones Part II” that garnered critical acclaim. In 1996, they released their third album featuring many known names, including Nas, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, and Method Man. The album, also describing the chronicles of street life, added oodles to their success. In the same year, they got an opportunity to feature alongside the prolific names of the hip hop scene, including Fat Joe, Biz Markie, and Wu-Tang Clan for America Is Dying Slowly, Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD meant to raise awareness of AIDS among American and African men. This compilation CD was declared a masterpiece by The Source magazine.
The duo got an opportunity to sing alongside Kool G Rap the following year. He was featured on Frankie Cutlass’s Politics & Bullsh*t’s “Known Da Game” title track. In 1998, they joined forces with Bounty Killer, the famous reggae dancehall artist for “Deadly Zone” and featured in “The Roof (Back In Time)”, the remix of Mariah Carey’s single. “Murda Muzik” came out in 1999, which suffered massive delays as its songs leaked. Once released, the album got a straight entry into Billboard 200 on number three, and it was felicitated with Platinum certification. After a series of allied releases, Prodigy released H.N.I.C, his solo album, collaborating with N.O.R.E., B.G., and others. He collaborated with producers, such as Rockwilder, Just Blaze, and The Alchemist for the same. In 2001, their album “Infamy” came out, dragging them out from their characteristic dark and raw hip hop style and putting them into a new ring. With this album, the duo took a break from their raw and intense music and ventured into the territory of commercial music. However, this experiment was not well received by the audience that accused them of compromising their authenticity for personal gains. “Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape” and “Amerikaz Nightmare” were released in 2003 and 2004, respectively. In 2006, their seventh album, “Blood Money”, came out. In 2011, they released a single “Dog Shit” featuring Nas.
2012: The duo breaks
The year 2012 brought horrible news for Mobb Deep lovers when they announced an indefinite interlude. This separation left their fans broken-hearted and no one thought that the duo would resurface. Where fans had sadly marked this as the end of another iconic duo, they were surprised by the announcement of a patch-up! Fortunately, the popular duo reunited in 2013 for interviews and tours, and this regrouped their fan base once again with a reignited passion for their music. In 2014, they released their eighth studio album, “The Infamous Mobb Deep” together.
The end of Mobb Deep
Another shocker came for the fans on June 20, 2017, when Prodigy died from complications related to sickle cell anemia. He died in a hospital in Las Vegas at the age of 42 from accidental choking. The death of Prodigy marked the end of Mobb Deep but could not end the outpour from their fans. This loss was not only felt by their huge fan base but the entire hip-hop community. Prodigy was perceived as a pioneer and one of the original artists to breakthrough with his unique voice and style. This tragic end saw widespread mourning and many hip-hop stars spoke about the loss of an asset of the community.
Mobb Deep Tribute T-shirt
What started with standing outside record label headquarters and requesting passing artists to listen to a demo tape led them to become the world’s most successful hip-hop duo. The seminal duo ruled the hearts of hip-hop lovers, and the love hasn’t faded yet. While one-half of the duo is working actively in the hip-hop music scene, the fans can never forget the magic they created together for around two decades. They had been crazy, dark, deep, and emphatic. If your mind can jam on some sick Mobb Deep beats even today, wear that fact with pride. Show your love for revolutionary music with t-shirts made to tribute Mobb Deep. Let everyone know, real music never dies.