On this day a quarter-century ago, “the illustrious” rap duo Mobb Deep released their second studio LP, The Infamous.
Much more successful than their debut, The Infamous is hailed as a New York classic of crime rhyme. Its gritty underground sound is a staple of the Rotten Apple’s 90s Hip Hop. The Infamous was a euphemism for NYC life for young Black men that weren’t fortunate enough to have a two-parent home, a basketball scholarship, or savings for college. Havoc and Prodigy’s production etched a new sound that could separate them from any other artists out of the Five Boroughs at the time.
Helping to pave a way for future groups like The Diplomats or A$AP Mob, The Infamous pushed the idea of crew participation, even if the rest of the crew wasn’t spittin’ any bars in the booth. Much like Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) Mobb Deep acted as street prophets, spitting the truths of the hood without being self-righteous about their innate cause. Featuring artists like Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Nas, and Q-Tip, this project was unlike any other album of the era, with some of the most integral emcees of the 90s melded together in a well thought out, a conceptualized time capsule.
The album was a commercial success debuting at #15 on the Billboard 200 and #3 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. The album was certified gold by the RIAA within the first month of its release and three singles from the project all made appearances on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. “Shook Ones Pt. II” and Survival of the Fittest” both making it on to the Billboard Hot 100.
“I’m only 19, but my mind is old..”, rapped the late Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, but it is certain that he had no idea of the impact of his words 25 years later. Since his passing in June 2017, Havoc has continued to carry the torch for the Mobb from QB while still saluting his fallen comrade who he’s torn up stages with across the globe over the span of three decades.
Salute to Prodigy, Havoc, Rapper Noyd, Twin, Gotti, the entire Mobb, QB Houses, Loud/RCA, and Steve Rifkin and everyone else that helped create this timeless piece of Hip Hop History!