Words by Ime Ekpo
You can not call yourself a hip-hop head if the Mobb hasn’t shaken you with the realness.
Bombarded with a rigid lyrical approach and dense street mannered content, Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones (Part II)” became instrumental in the 1995 resurgence of hardcore rapping for the east coast, New York City, in particular. At a time when the prophetic Nas was at large with his solo debut Illmatic, when Method Man and Redman’s gritty rapping devoured minds, when the melodies of New York’s superstar rapper Biggie Smalls owned the airwaves, and when Jeru the Damaja’s lyrical acrobatics shook the nation, Havoc was crafting heavy breakbeats and making them pitch perfect for the sake of his buddy Prodigy to completely demolish on contact. Known today as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time, “Shook Ones (Part II)” is the stomping ground of Prodigy’s most infamous bar:
“I’m only 19 but my mind is old/And when the things get for real, my warm heart turns cold.”
Prodigy’s performance showcased his ability to paint a brutally vivid picture with the use of astute wordplay. The Queensbridge-bound MC was unapologetic about the deeds of his crew, expressing their ways with “cowards” and “featherweights”, an action that makes “the realness” of the Mobb, evident. His representation of the angry, violent New York City teenager put the masses in awe by his obvious matureness and poetic display, causing the track to become a staple in the 90’s hip-hop phenomenon.
“Shook Ones (Part II)” is undisputedly one of Mobb Deep’s most iconic songs, making The Infamous one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. In honor of the late Prodigy’s 43rd birthday, here is a list of ten hip-hop songs that have sampled the classic Mobb Deep gem.
1. “Think It Through” Brother Ali
Prodigy’s “Now take these words home and think it through…” line is sampled throughout Brother Ali’s “Think It Through.”
2. Paul Nice feat. Masta Ace & Guru “Conflict” Remix
A posthumous release a year after his death, Guru was featured on the 2011 Paul Nice mastered “Conflict” remix, along with Crooklyn Dodger MC, Masta Ace. Sampled amidst the chorus infused with a Big L sample, Prodigy’s “…speak the wrong words, man, and you will get touched,” line gets busy.
3. Edo G “Dedicated”
The classic track set such a standard, two years after its release, “Shook Ones (Part II)” was already in line for sampling. Underground hip-hop notable, Edo G’s 1996 track “Dedicated” samples a part of the classic’s gritty intro, “…to all the killers and a hundred dollar billers.”
4. Shabaam Sahdeeq & Cocoa Brovaz “Every Rhyme I Write”
Just because he is crafting the background melody does not mean he is exempt from the mic.
Havoc’s boom bapping line, “For every rhyme I write it’s 25 to life,” was sampled throughout Rawkus Records 1999 Soundbombing II gem, Shabaam Sahdeeq and Cocoa Brovaz’s “Every Rhyme I Write.”
5. Tragedy Khadafi feat. Christ Castro “The Truth”
The Infamous is noted for its core residence in New York City, Queensbridge, a place where the greatest hip-hop MCs and DJs reigned, with Tragedy Khadafi being one of them. Khadafi’s 2003 track “The Truth” featuring Christ Castro merges Havoc’s standout “25 to life” line along with his boasting “Queensbridge and we don’t play” bar, to capture the neighborhood’s tribalistic vibe.
6. Erick Sermon feat. Sy Scott “Battle”
The “Shook Ones (Part II)” instrumental owns the ability mingle in multiple climates, despite the place and time. The creative energy of Erick Sermon sampled the riff towards the end of his 2000 Lyricist Lounge 2 contribution, “Battle” featuring Sy Scott.
7. Fat Joe “The Crack Attack”
Being a fellow hardcore gritty spitter, it appears Fat Joe was on a mission to send out a warning to an opposer in his 1998 track “The Crack Attack” from his Don Cartagena album when he sampled Prodigy’s “…or the next time I write might be about you” bar.
8. Big Kap & Fatman Scoop “Party Anthem”
As previously stated, “Shook Ones (Part II)” is a multiple climate rider, and the party/club scene is certainly one of them. Big Kap and Fatman Scoop’s 1999 club banger “Party Anthem” rocked out the Mobb Deep classic’s instrumental throughout the minutes.
9. Poor Righteous Teachers “We Dat Nice”
Combined with the snippets of fellow heavyweight hip-hop acts Big Daddy Kane and Nice & Smooth, the Poor Righteous Teachers add on a snip of Prodigy’s embraced bar, “…now take these words home and think it through,” to their 1996 gem, “We Dat Nice.”
10. Pete Rock feat. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, & Prodigy “Tha Game”
Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor hones an abundance of love for The Infamous classic. It seems like Pete wanted to capture a vibe similar to “Right Back at You” or “Eye For An Eye” due to the Ghostface Killah and Raekwon features. Sampling Prodigy’s “..you’re all up in the game and don’t deserve to be a player” is the perfect cut for the track full of hip-hop big shots.
Earlier this year on June 20th, the hip-hop community was sent into an immediate culture shock when Prodigy passed away at the age of 42 from a reported accidental choking. Mobb Deep’s presence in the culture of Hip-Hop is vocally distinct and signature to their respective aura. Prodigy’s elite storytelling at the young age of 19 birthed a profound outlook and Havoc’s touch on sharpening the melodies added realistic energy to the movement, thus enabling the legendary stance of the duo. With such an effective influence, the legacy of Prodigy is honorable towards the MC element of Hip-Hop culture and will surely live on, forever.