In the mid 1990s, Mobb Deep was situated in the midst of one of the best periods of creation in Hip-Hop history. Havoc’s haunting production was strikingly malevolent and haunting, but the real star was Prodigy. Relatively young at the time, Prodigy was well on his way to becoming one of the greatest emcees ever. His combination of cold aloofness attached to his chilling brand of urban dystopia was both riveting and disconcerting.
Planet Ill sat down with Prodigy a while ago and had him walk us through that journey from Juvenile Hell through the balance of their career. He provided us with an insider’s view that gave us incredible insight into those days that wasn’t commonly known. Hope you enjoy. Peace
Planet Ill: Let’s start with Juvenile Hell.
Prodigy: Um Juvenile Hell basically we were high school dropouts; like we just dropped out of school and we was like f**k that, we’re doing Rap for a living. We wanted the chains, we wanted to be in videos, we wanted the cars, the girls; we wanted that whole lifestyle. So when we made that album we were just like little niggas just rapping about everything that we was going through in the streets.
We was drinking 40’s, smoking weed, wilding, hoeing, you know what I’m saying, weapons doing all kinds of shit. So when we made that album we were just so focused on having parties and wanting that lifestyle that the album didn’t come out good. We didn’t even concentrate on making a ill album; we was just like come on we got to hurry up so we can fucking be rappers. So we did our best though. We did like three beats on that album. That was the first time we started making beats.
It was hard for us to get the beats that we was feeling from other people, plus it was too expensive and we couldn’t afford it, so we was like fuck it let’s start making our own beats. So we did like three beats “Hit It From The Back, “Hold Down The Block, and “Stomp ‘Em Out” and to tell you the truth those were like the three best songs on the album. So when we seen that, we was like “Wow we got some shit. We got to make the whole next album, fuckk even going to producers.”
So when we did that album that was basically our mind frame we were just young and dumb and that was the result of us not paying attention to business, of us not paying attention to us making a good album. The result was it wasn’t…it didn’t blast off like how we wanted it to. Like how it should have blasted off. So after that, that shit hit us hard; we was hurt because Nas had Illmatic out.
He was popping with that album we was like ahhh he’s getting all the shorties at the show he’s riding around in a Lexus, chilling in the projects. We like, “Awww we fucked up; we got to go back in. We got to go in hard son.” Now we started paying attention to what we was doing when we made Infamous.
The album got to be crazy, so every beat had to be some shit the whole hood was feeling. You couldn’t come with no corny shit. So that’s all it was; we made a beat, come outside on the block, play that shit on the radio. Niggaas was like, “Oh that shit ill!” That’s the formula: the hood love it then the world’s going love it.
So basically that Infamous album was crazy, we started getting older, and we started getting into more crazier shit in the street. Niggas was bugging; that was a crazy time in my life. I was doing coke and fucking drinking E&J for breakfast. Wilding like for real no joke, we was really wilding like smoking dust (laughs).
We met Raekwon and them niggas (laughs) being on Loud [Records]. They turned niggas out smoking that shit. They was smoking that shit, I think they just passed it to us one day they didn’t even tell us what it was
Planet Ill: Who passed the dust blunt to you?
Prodigy:I think it was Ghost (laughs). He was chilling with some white kids. Word is bond son. How we meet them niggas was, we was up in the Loud office one day right and all them niggas was up there cooling. Them niggas is older than us and we followed in their footsteps for real. We was on our own shit but we followed in their footsteps a lot with business and how they handled they business and how they was consistently on they business grind. Them niggas wasn’t playing.
They was in the office making deals. If something ain’t go right, we see them flipping out, flipping chairs and shit, flipping desks, wilding. We seen all that, so we was feeling them n***as, so we started hanging out, started going out to Staten Island, hanging out in the harbor, hanging out in their hoods and shit just chilling.
We was out there one night chilling with Ghost. He had like two white kids; they was in a silver Benz and back then Rae had a dark navy blue Acura. So we all chilling and sh*t we was little niggas son we had the St. Ides mixed with Hawaiian punch. Niggas called that shit the red eye. We was drinking that shit; niggas drinking Old English mixed with Guinness Stout, n***as called that shit Kunta.
All I know is I smell [something]. [But] that don’t smell like weed. So we smoking, I think Havoc was smoking back then. So we getting blasted (laughs)! We was f**ked up. So they like what’s up with Nas they want to meet Nas. They was like “yo we want do a song with Nas” [We were] like cool we going set that up for ya’ll so they drove us back to Queens Bridge.
Havoc is like “yo there was something in that weed son, I’m fucked up.” I’m like I don’t know man that shit got me feeling right though. We called Nas so we all got together in the studio and did “Eye For An Eye”. We dropped Infamous ,know what I’m saying, that shit took off.
Then Rae dropped his solo album. He was wilding talking about coke, and dust and I started listening and I was like these niggas is ill dust heads son. We was little niggas I was like let me try that shit and I smoking that shit everyday after that. I was smoking dust blunts. That was my shit. Niggas turned me out with that shit know what I’m saying? The hood is wild, the hood will turn you out to a lot of shit anyway. Word.
Planet Ill: I feel you. Let’s talk about that Hell on Earth record which is very underrated.
Prodigy: As we did the Infamous and that shit took off. So we was like aight, we did it this time, we got the gold plaque. At that time, we didn’t have the mind state like we are ill and we the best; we was on some humble shit. We was always on some humble shit cause that first album humbled us the fuck up son.
That was a big humble pie like a motherfucker son. We was level-headed, down to earth. Just do your job, do it good, keep it moving; that’s what we was about. We was aight cool, we got a hit record now let’s not suck our own dickk, let’s keep it going. So we started working on the Hell On Earth shit. During that album that was two years 96 and 97 we made that album and it came out at the end of 97.
Planet Ill:All the Tupac beef?
Prodigy:Nah not just that, like that happened at the end when the album came out. During the whole time when the album was in making, it took two years. Then the Tupac shit happened. So that whole two years while we was making that album mad shit happened like that truck I bought from down south, the black truck when I had bought the green shit.
Planet Ill: So talk about the two years you were talking about Hell on Earth and a lot of shit went down you were talking about the Tahoe you had.
Prodigy: Yea the Tahoe, know what I’m saying, niggas crashed my car. God bless the dead, my man Twin, his twin brother got killed in the accident. One of our other friends, Ghost, got killed in the accident. People got hurt real bad in that accident and you know that shit hit niggas hard man because you know it’s death,you know what I’m saying?
So we had to deal with that and that was serious. My man lost his twin brother and then another one of my mans was held responsible for that, even though it was an accident. He got to deal with that reality; he’s thinking damn he killed his friend by accident and everybody dealing with the reality of the situation. A lot of people got hurt my man, Money O got hurt; he was almost paralyzed, Twin that survived broke his collar bone. They found one of my mans in a tree. They found his head slit down the middle.
After that, Havoc’s brother committed suicide and that was crazy man. It was weird cause Killa B wasn’t like that. He wasn’t that type of person to do something like that. He was a wild boy, he was busting his guns and all that, but he wasn’t the type of nigga to kill himself so that hit n***as hard and it was confusing and ‘til this day it affects all us and it’s just hard to understand why certain things happen in life. That’s how life is man, it’s real crazy. And right after Killa [B], my man Yammy got killed out of town. He was doing some work out of town and somebody ran up behind him with a bat and hit him in the head with a bat and killed him. Yammy was one of the strongest niggas that I knew.
That was our man; he gave us the name Infamous ‘cause that was his name. He had it tatted on his arm infamous Yambo. So when Yammy got killed that fucked us up man ‘cause he would come to every show; that was like our strength and even Twin that was our strength that was the wild twin that died. The twins got different personalities, Scarface he was the wild one like anything that go down, before me and Hav even notice it they on it; it’s not going down like that. So we lost a lot of strength, Killa, Yammy, Scarface. It was devastating to niggas.
We lost loved ones, we lost a lot of shit man, so right after that my father died of AIDS. He was a heroin addict since fourteen sharing needles and shit. So he died of AIDS and that fucked me up. I found out about that while I was locked up. I was in county for like two weeks. I found out about that when I was locked up and as soon as I got out it was crazy man all that shit back to back. It was just wild and me and Hav got to be strong and do this album and think about the future, but it was just hard. So that was just going on when we made that album.
Part II coming in a few days and shoutout to PlanetIll.com!