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Mobb Deep:    Through The Years

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— by Shaheem Reid

Most of the groups that were around when New York's Mobb Deep debuted in 1993 have fallen to the wayside either because they could not stick together or fans no longer cared about their music. But the duo Havoc and Prodigy have not only remained allegiant to one another, they've maintained their status as one of the premier groups in hip-hop.

If you ask the Mobb's new boss, 50 Cent (he signed them to his G-Unit Records last year and offered them two new Porches as added swag), he'll probably tell you that their May 2 release, Blood Money, is their best LP ever. Although fans will agree the album is classic Mobb, 50 will probably have a devil of a time convincing those who've been riding with "Hollywood" Hav and "Las Vegas" P since The Infamous that Blood Money is better than their definitive, 11-year-old breakout LP. But hey, Fif has a gift with flow: After all, he talked his way out of the 'hood.

Even though 50 has his stamp all over Blood Money, the LP definitely maintains the vintage Mobb Deep feel. The Queensbridge duo have their guns drawn on a bunch of records, the beats are so shadowy that they sound like they snuck out of Dracula's basement, and Mobb prove once again that they aren't afraid to talk about anything.

In fact, they went so far this time around that Interscope Records — home to outspoken rappers like Eminem and 50 — decided to intervene on the song "Pearly Gates" (featuring 50 Cent) and bleep out some lyrics they deemed offensive. What were the lyrics that caused such controversy?

"Now homie, if I go to hell and you make it to the pearly gates/ Tell the boss man we got beef/ And tell his only son I'mma see him when I see him/ And when I see him, I'mma beat him like the movie/ For leavin' us out to dry in straight poverty/ For not showin' me no signs they watchin' over me/ Yo! We a new breed in 2006, we don't give a f--- about that religious bullsh--."

"Basically, some people at Interscope was like, 'You have to change that,' " Prodigy explained. "It ain't worth fighting with them. It's nothing to fix it. We just started a relationship. So I changed it in my way and still got my point across." (A representative for Interscope had no comment on the matter.)

Getting their point across has rarely been a problem for Mobb Deep throughout their career, which we're about to take you on a ride through. Lace your boots tight and stay on point at all times there's heavy partying with Puff Daddy, brawls at clubs, tons of money being tossed around and paying for baby milk with the studio budget. After all, as Prodigy says, the "Kids gotta eat."

Havoc: We almost signed with Puff back in the day.

Prodigy: We was little n---as. Going to clubs, networking.

Havoc: We was real tight with Puff. He used to bring us to all the parties. We was like 16.

Prodigy: We was running around with fake IDs. [Puff] had [his club promotion] Daddy's House poppin' in [New York club] the Red Zone. It was crazy.

Havoc: Juvenile Hell is us as kids. We was just happy to have a record deal. We had a little $60,000 budget, but we was just happy — we didn't know what we was doin', and we just made an album. We didn't know nothing about nothing.

Prodigy: We did a half-ass job!


Havoc: I'd give that record like a 5 [out of 10].

Prodigy: I would say the same.

Havoc: That album was like, "All right, we did the Juvenile Hell album, it didn't work. We got lucky we got another record deal." So we just regrouped, got all our n---as together. I had the equipment in my crib and P's crib. And we was like, "Yo, it's now or never." You could call it a stroke of luck, 'cause [The Infamous] could've turned out any kinda way. The beat machine could've cut off.

Prodigy: We learned that you gotta be serious about making music. You [have to] like everything that comes along with it — the artwork, videos. It's a learning process. When we did The Infamous, we was starting to be young men, like 18. The funny thing, we was about to not use "Shook Ones, Pt. 2" [on the album].

Havoc: Oh yeah, because with "Shook Ones," I wasn't really feeling the beat at the time. ... But once I got my crew up in there and they heard the beat, they was like, "Are you crazy? You better not erase this beat." If I would've dumped that beat off, we probably wouldn't be sitting here right now.

Prodigy: It used to get real crazy in them days.

Havoc: A lot of our first beefs started during our very first shows. We was rolling [to clubs] like 30, 40 deep. Everybody was so happy, they were like, "Y'all got a hit song on the radio, we going." So we got 40 dudes with us, we were performing with another crew that got 50 dudes with them. You knew something was going to happen. We ended up tearing up a couple of clubs, throwing chandeliers. Then everybody went back to the block, like, "Yo, that was crazy." It was like the wild, wild West, but it was the wild, wild North.


Havoc: Definitely gotta give that album like a 10. If I could, a 10-plus for the fact that it's a hip-hop classic, number one. Number two, it definitely jump-started our careers.

Prodigy: Yeah, definitely a 10-plus for real. There's crazy joints on it.

NEXT: 'We spent about two and half million [dollars] recording the album. ... I don't even remember why we spent so much.' ...
Photo: Brian Appio/Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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 "Put Em In Their Place"
Blood Money

  "Have A Party"
From "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'" The Motion Picture

  "Shook Ones"
Juvenile Hell

  "Got It Twisted"
Amerikaz Nightmare


  "Hey Luv (Anything)"