Black Music Month In Focus: Mobb Deep

This is part of The Shadow League’s Black Music Month In Focus series celebrating the vibrating musical excellence within our wide cultural tapestry.

There is a special place in Hip Hop history for Mobb Deep. The duo were trailblazers who asked for nothing more than a chance to deliver an honest interpretation of the NYC streets as they knew them. When they delivered the message, it was raw, honest and prolific, transforming Queens into a cinematic score of underworld revelry.

Mobb Deep – Shook Ones

Mobb Deep’s official music video for ‘Shook Ones’. Click to listen to Mobb Deep on Spotify: As featured on The Infamous.

Last week, we learned that Prodigy had unfortunately passed on and the world gave an outpouring of love for the fallen soldier. It was only right for a soul who gave his entire life to edu-taining the world with the gritty truths that stem from redlining, food deserts and economic depletion of communities of color. 

Like Tupac Shakurs Thug Life movement, Mobb Deep represented the conscious underground society. Their music explored the state of exploitation that society places on poor black people.

Mobb Deep were also regional riders. When Snoop Dogg released the inflammatory track NY, NY where he kicked over multiple New York City buildings in the video Godzilla style, the Queens duo were the first to respond. The fact that he kicked over the Citibank building in Queens definitely lit a spark that went full blown hardcore on Capone N Noreagas retaliatory track, LA, LA

The video shows the Queens collective of CNN, Tragedy Khadafi and Mobb Deep kidnapping members of the Dogg Pound, locking them in a car trunk and tossing them over a NYC bridge.

Capone-N-Noreaga – L.A., L.A. ft. Tragedy Khadafi & Mobb Deep by bigcityofdreams10

From The War Report Album Lyrics: L.A. L.A. big city of dreams but everything in L.A.

When NYC needed it most, Mobb Deep was there for them. Their landmark single Shook Ones Part I came during the height of the West Coast invasion onto the pop culture airwaves. Their lingo was laced with Five Percenter culture and an Islamic perspective of discipline. It was the total antithesis to the lavish West Coast gangsta rhymes and images coming from Death Row as a unit. New York needed an uplift during this time and the jiggy era that Bad Boy saturated the airwaves with was getting old.

Mobb Deep – Quiet Storm ft. Lil’ Kim

Music video by Mobb Deep featuring Lil’ Kim performing Quiet Storm. (C) 1999 Zomba Recording Corp.

With albums The Infamous, Hell on Earth and Murda Music, Mobb Deep transformed the New York City gangsta rap dynamic further, shining a spotlight on Queens that wasn’t like Nas or fellow duo Capone-N-Noreaga. Instead, they stayed in their lane of dark beats crafted by Havoc and intelligent perspectives weaved by Prodigy like a muddied indigenous wigwam. 

From housing projects to rural America, the world was moved by the plight they discussed and although later in their careers they were underappreciated, Mobb Deep will hold a place in our collective minds forever.  

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