Years ago, alongside then-comrade Nas,
Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Prodigy proclaimed, “As time goes by/ an eye for
an eye/ we in this together, son/ your beef is mine.” That phrase still
applies to a Queens rapper, only now their partner in crime is 50 Cent, the current antithesis of Escobar.
With their move to G-Unit, some say Havoc and Prodigy have sold out;
some call them traitors. But no matter how you dice it, Mobb Deep is
prepared to make more money than ever with Curtis and company.
With those riches come consequences — that’s why their first G-Unit release is called Blood Money (according
to Prodigy, there’s also a movie and a book on the way). But for a
group that has been around since ’92, there comes a time when you just
stop caring about what people think or how you get paid. You simply
want your just due.
Deep, perhaps, has been through more trials and tribulations than any
rap duo to come out of New York in the past fifteen years. Hav and P
have been signed to four different record companies, and they never
received a monstrous push from their first major label, Loud Records,
or pop powerhouse Jive, which released Amerikaz Nightmare in 2004.
Then there’s the on-again/off-again relationship with Esco. They collaborated on albums including It Was Written, The Infamous and Murda Musik,
but they also sent shots toward each other such as, “Nigga, you’re butt
and it got back to me/ asking a Braveheart to get back your jewelry/
You ain’t from my hood, don’t even rep Q.B.”). And there’s also the
beef with countless other rappers, including 2Pac, Tru Life and Jay-Z,
the latter of whom nearly crippled their career in 2001 by taunting
them with bars such as, “When I was pushin’ weight, back in ’88/ You
was a ballerina/ I got the pictures; I seen ya.”
when Prodigy gives a big “fuck you” to the haters, he is getting a chip
off his shoulder that he’s held for too long. He and Havoc are rolling
with the dons of rap right now and are enjoying every minute of it,
something that has to seem just a little ironic to their most hardcore
fans, considering 50’s line from “Piggy Bank”: “Don’t fuck with me/ if
you wanna eat/ ‘Cause I’ll do yo’ little ass/ Like Jay did Mobb Deep.”
no matter how many shots people take at their credibility, the message
is clear. Think what you want about them; they simply don’t give a fuck.
guys have been doing this for nearly fourteen years now. When you
started back in ’92, what were your goals for Mobb Deep? Do you think
you have fulfilled them?
Basically the goals for Mobb Deep have not yet been fulfilled. That’s
what keeps us goin’. You’ll see when we reach our goals; that’s when we
kickin’ our feet up, like, “Yo, we chillin’ now.”
When did you first start writing rhymes?
Prodigy: I started writing rhymes probably around 12.
You and Havoc met at the Graphic Arts High School in Manhattan. How did you end up going there?
I went there because everyone from my building in Lefrak, that’s where
they was going. My friends and whatnot from my building was like, “We
going here.” I was like, “Yo, fuck that; I’m going too.” I basically
wanted to go there ’cause my friends were goin’ there.
What was the best lesson you learned there?
Prodigy: The best lesson I learned I don’t know. I guess that everything happens for a reason.
You’ve got the new album, Blood Money, coming out. Is there any specific message for that title?
Basically what we tryin’ to say [is] no matter how you make your money,
all money is evil. No matter how much you try to deny it, it’s a
simple, undeniable fact that money is evil.
How long have you been working on this latest release?
Prodigy: Probably about five, six months.
Who are some of the people that we’re going to see on it besides Mobb Deep?
Has there been a certain feeling with this album in the studio that you would say is different with past albums?
Yeah, definitely. We feelin’ good about doing music. In the past, we
always went hard with doing our music, because that’s what we loved to
do. But now we in a better situation and 50’s given us this platform —
basically, he’s given us what Eminem gave him. It just feels real good
when we in there working on our music now, ’cause we know how far it’s
gonna go and we know this shit is for real now. We ain’t doin’ this
shit for nothing.
What would you say is your ultimate goal for this album right now?
We just want it to reach the masses, that’s all. Niggas from the
street, they got a lot of shit to say that people would be very
interested in, because they ain’t never hear no kind of shit like this
before. Even if they a fan, they ain’t never heard it before. We always
come with some shit. We just want our music to go to the masses and
that’s it. We ain’t putting no number on it.
A lot of people have criticized your move to G-Unit. What do you say to that?
Basically, just go buy the album. You ain’t got no choice; it’s gonna
be the hottest shit on the streets, so you gonna have to buy it and
play it. [And] if you hatin’ that much, then don’t buy the
album. Who cares? You ain’t gonna be able to stop the snowball right
here. We’re a snowball coming down the hill, getting bigger and bigger.
What are some things you’ve learned being around 50?
Basically just his work ethic — he never seems tired. He always wants
to do interviews and shows and keep the schedule cracking. Non-stop
work, no free time. That’s how it’s supposed to be if you wanna get
always been associated with another rapper from Queens: Nas. You guys
haven’t always had the best of relationships, but what is your status
with him now?
There is no relationship. He’s doing him and we’re doing us. We don’t
really care about that situation anymore or anything in the past,
really, because we’re just the bigger men now out of all of that. What
happens at the end of the day, where we at and where he at, that should
speak for itself. So we just leave it alone, keep pushing and doing
what we do.
Would you say you’re still cool with a lot of the other rappers from QB, though?
There’s probably a few dudes that we say what’s up to and everything’s
cool, but basically we just doing our own thing right now. We can’t
really worry about being cool with somebody no matter where they from
or who they is. We worried about Mobb Deep right now. Fuck being cool.
Have you been working on a follow-up to 2000’s H.N.I.C.?
That will definitely be in the near future. You can’t stop that ’cause
I just keep goin’ and goin’, so that’ll definitely be in the works.
A lot of your songs have the topic of war, the war in the streets and so on. What do you think of the war in Iraq?
To me it’s all bullshit. They don’t know what they out there fighting
for; [they’re] straight-up toy soldiers. People got family and people
that died and all that, it’s sad, but it’s straight-up toy soldiers.
They don’t even know what they fightin’ about.
Is it as important as the wars on the streets?
There’s a bigger war going on for your soul right now, against black
people. It gets deep. That’s the real war. All this other shit is to
divert our attention.
you first started rapping, do you think conditions in America’s urban
areas have improved? Do you think your hood has changed for the better?
No. You gotta take it to the top in order to fix it. Ain’t nothing
wrong with the bottom. It’s the top feeding the bottom all this foul
shit, that’s why it’s fucked up. In order to fix it, the solution is at
publicly known that you battle sickle-cell disease. What would you say
to somebody who’s going through the same things as you are?
The only thing I can say is you gotta eat right. You gotta change your
diet and that’s it. You gotta be a vegetarian almost, really, and this
is how it is. They’ll see the difference when they do that.
Prefix review: Mobb Deep [Free Agents] by Dan Redding