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Mobb Deep are a hip hop duo which consists of rappers Havoc and Prodigy. They are perhaps most famous for their landmark album The Infamous, and for their hit single, "Shook Ones Pt. II". They are currently signed to G-Unit Records. Although the group hasn't seen a large amount of commercial success, the majority of their albums have been met with critical acclaim, in particular their 1995 album, The Infamous, which is considered an East Coast Classic, in the same league as Nas' Illmatic, and Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready to Die.
Havoc and Prodigy started rapping in the late 1980s when the two met at the High School of Art and Design in New York City. Havoc took on the role of producer, while Prodigy assumed the position of primary rapper. Originally dubbing themselves the Poetical Profits, they later changed their name to Mobb Deep in order to "reflect their reputation on the streets." In their early career, they released the single "Cop Hell". While both members of the duo were only 17, they released their debut Juvenile Hell, which was lead by the single, "Peer Pressure". The album sold very poorly and was met with harsh reviews that wrote the duo off as just another hardcore group with little to distinguish them from the rest of the rap world. However, a few songs from Juvenile Hell gained a little recognition, such as "Hit It from the Back", "Locked in Spofford," and "Me & My Crew". Also in 1993, Havoc had a guest appearance in the critically acclaimed Black Moon album Enta Da Stage, on a song called "U Da Man".
Rise to success
Still at a young age, the duo powered themselves to the top of the hardcore rap scene through their straightforward narration of street life. As with their first lyrical production, Mobb Deep portrayed the struggles of living in New York City's Queensbridge Houses. Following its release, The Infamous became one of the most influential hip hop albums of the East Coast hardcore rap genre ever. Their production also was noticed as the beats were often hard hitting and direct, a testament to Havoc, who produced the duos' tracks almost exclusively throughout their careers . Furthermore, the smash hit single "Shook Ones Pt. II", received critical acclaim and was well-received within the hip hop community. Their third album, Hell on Earth was released in 1996, debuting at number six on the Billboard album chart. The album continued their portrayal of a harsh street life, while further pushing them to the forefront of the hardcore rap scene, along with contemporary East Coast rappers such as The Notorious B.I.G., the Wu-Tang Clan collective, Jay-Z, and fellow Queensbridge associate, Nas (who was also noted as a big part of Mobb Deep's success).
In 1999, the duo released the highly anticipated Murda Muzik album. Despite extensive bootlegging (nearly thirty songs of unreleased material leaked onto the internet) and countless delays, the album debuted at number three on Billboard and quickly went platinum — further highlighted by the popular single, "Quiet Storm." Shortly afterwards, Prodigy released his long awaited solo album H.N.I.C., in which the rapper collaborated with other artists (B.G., N.O.R.E.) and producers (including The Alchemist, Rockwilder and Just Blaze). Shortly after the release of Murda Muzik, rapper Jay-Z spoke out against the duo, leading to an increase in publicity. Rumor has it, that Prodigy took issue with two Jay-Z lines, which he felt were subliminal shots at Mobb Deep. One line from Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter states, "How dare you look at Jigga like I'm shook like boo", which he interpreted as a reference to "Shook Ones Pt. II". These remarks were compounded with a line from another one of Jay-Z's albums, Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life: "What the deal is? (huh?)/Its like New York's been soft/Ever since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings," which Prodigy felt referenced Mobb Deep's beef with Tupac, Snoop and Death Row Records. Later, at the Hot 97 Summer Jam show of 2001, Jay-Z performed "Takeover", which attacked Prodigy and which he later re-recorded for his album, The Blueprint. He also revealed photographs of a young Prodigy dressed up like Michael Jackson in 1983 although Jay-Z claimed it was 1988.
Mobb Deep subsequently released Infamy in 2001. The song "Burn" (featuring Vita) was perceived as a response to Jay-Z's diss on The Blueprint. The album marked a major stylistic change that saw the duo move away from the raw, minimalist, stripped-down beats of their hardcore roots, towards a more commercial fare with such songs as "Hey Luv (Anything)". This transition fostered accusations of "selling out" — upsetting many long-time fans who did not wish to see them veer away from their original style. Although these stylistic adjustments opened up Mobb's audience to a wider variety, many critics and fans credit Prodigy's feud with Jay-Z as damaging to Mobb Deep's gangster image and record sales (most evident when comparing the platinum-selling Murda Muzik to Infamy which struggled to attain the gold record status). There were no retaliation diss records back from these rappers. In 2003, the group split with Loud Records and released Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape in which they proclaimed themselves as "free agents", addressing the group's split with Loud and search for a new label. Jive Records signed the duo later in the year and subsequently released Amerikaz Nightmare in 2004, which was seen by the general rap audience as a weaker release by the two, resulting in poor sales and the subsequent dropping of the duo from Jive.
Infamous Records was a record label started by Mobb Deep in the late 1990s, but it did not get an imprint deal until 2004. It is now a subsidiary of G-Unit Records. In June 2005, Prodigy and Havoc surprised fans when they announced that they had inked a deal with 50 Cent's label G-Unit Records. The move was seen as surprising because 50 Cent had included an indirect diss to the group in his song "Piggy Bank". 50 Cent had a connection to the duo, as he grew up in nearby Jamaica, Queens and also had used Havoc as a producer for several different beats for G-Unit's Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo. The relationship strengthened as Mobb Deep and 50 Cent each received tattoos to pledge their loyalty to each other. Prodigy has the words "G-Unit" tattooed on his right hand and 50 Cent has "Mobb Deep" tattooed on his wrist. Upon signing to G-Unit, both Prodigy and Havoc were given new Porsches, a gift for two artists who had received very little monetary compensation in the past.
Mobb Deep's most recent album, titled Blood Money was released on May 2, 2006. It features G-Unit members 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck, as well as Mary J. Blige and Nate Dogg. This marked their eighth release. Since joining G-Unit, Mobb Deep has also become involved with the G-Unit vs. The Game feud. In the "Outta Control" video, Mobb Deep are wearing T-shirts that say "G-Unit Game Over" referencing The Game's departure from G-Unit. Mobb Deep disses The Game in a 15 minute diss song with the rest of G-Unit called "300 Shots."
Many (Including Mobb's Long time fans)saw the group's movement to G-Unit as a departure from the original "Mobb Deep sound" and that had characterized their earlier releases, because Havoc himself has become less involved in the production of the group's music, not to mention that many of their original fans felt that Mobb Deep "sold out". In recent times (with G-Unit), Mobb Deep has moved away from its characteristic gritty yet soulful "New York sound" and more into a mainstream pop sound that is in sharp contrast with the lyricism-focused and simplistic hip hop of the early to mid-1990s.
In November 2006, there were speculations of increasing tensions between 50 Cent and Havoc. Prodigy will release solo material with Koch Records before the end of 2007. Havoc, however, declined to sign with Koch, instead choosing to join a smaller, more independent label, Nature Sounds.
On October 9, 2007, Prodigy pleaded guilty to unlawful gun possession charges. Since this was his third gun conviction, he was facing a fifteen-year sentence, however, he has struck a plea bargain giving him a commuted sentence of 3 1/2 years.
- 1993: Juvenile Hell
- 1995: The Infamous
- 1996: Hell on Earth
- 1999: Murda Muzik
- 2001: Infamy
- 2004: Amerikaz Nightmare
- 2006: Blood Money
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