16 Songs, 1 Hour 6 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

With their second album, 1995's The Infamous, Queens duo Mobb Deep invented a gritty new lane for hardcore rap. Shortly after Wu-Tang Clan and Nas reclaimed hip-hop for NYC following the massive success of lusher, sunnier L.A. rappers, MC/producers Havoc and Prodigy emerged with an even chillier sound: intensely personal, shockingly vivid, unwaveringly raw. The Infamous is a claustrophobic mix of crime tales, ice-veined bravado, and deep reflection. Its grim songs paint the streets like a warzone ("Survival of the Fittest") and alcohol as a release valve ("Drink Away the Pain [Situations]"). Their noir tales speak of drama between the boroughs ("Trife Life"), running from police ("Temperature's Rising"), and fear of prison life ("Up North Trip").

However, it's the album's lead single, "Shook Ones, Pt. II," that was most epochal, featuring all the elements that would make Mobb Deep influential. Prodigy supplies a classic first verse that mixes the deeply reflective ("I'm only 19, but my mind is old/And when the things get for real, my warm heart turns cold") and the shockingly ultraviolent ("Rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone"). Havoc provides the hard-hitting minor-key beat and a verse that paints his existence as a desperate struggle with dire situations ("For every rhyme I write it's 25 to life"). Throughout the '90s, Mobb Deep's sound would flow like a grimy rain through a gutter underneath the glossier fare of Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella, ultimately influencing the next generation of superstars, including 50 Cent, Pusha T, and Kendrick Lamar.

EDITORS’ NOTES

With their second album, 1995's The Infamous, Queens duo Mobb Deep invented a gritty new lane for hardcore rap. Shortly after Wu-Tang Clan and Nas reclaimed hip-hop for NYC following the massive success of lusher, sunnier L.A. rappers, MC/producers Havoc and Prodigy emerged with an even chillier sound: intensely personal, shockingly vivid, unwaveringly raw. The Infamous is a claustrophobic mix of crime tales, ice-veined bravado, and deep reflection. Its grim songs paint the streets like a warzone ("Survival of the Fittest") and alcohol as a release valve ("Drink Away the Pain [Situations]"). Their noir tales speak of drama between the boroughs ("Trife Life"), running from police ("Temperature's Rising"), and fear of prison life ("Up North Trip").

However, it's the album's lead single, "Shook Ones, Pt. II," that was most epochal, featuring all the elements that would make Mobb Deep influential. Prodigy supplies a classic first verse that mixes the deeply reflective ("I'm only 19, but my mind is old/And when the things get for real, my warm heart turns cold") and the shockingly ultraviolent ("Rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone"). Havoc provides the hard-hitting minor-key beat and a verse that paints his existence as a desperate struggle with dire situations ("For every rhyme I write it's 25 to life"). Throughout the '90s, Mobb Deep's sound would flow like a grimy rain through a gutter underneath the glossier fare of Bad Boy and Roc-A-Fella, ultimately influencing the next generation of superstars, including 50 Cent, Pusha T, and Kendrick Lamar.

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