Relive The Brilliance Of Mobb Deep's 'The Infamous' LP On Its 20th Anniversary
It's hard to believe, but here we are. 20 years ago today Mobb Deep dropped their seminal second LP, The Infamous, and with it unleashed some of the most jarring and true to life hip-hop ever recorded. A patchwork of stories told from the shadows of the Queensbridge towers, The Infamous, in a way, continued the work that Nas had started with Illmatic one year earlier. Its gunmetal grey beats, produced by Prodigy and Havoc themselves (with some substantial help from The Abstract) took the existing jazz-tinged sound of New York City and drug it through an abandoned alley; The Infamous is a smooth record, to be sure, but an cloud of cold malice hangs over its every bar. It's an album of warning sirens, be them faint and far-off on "Eye for a Eye" or front and center on "Shook Ones, Pt. II."
How does one sum up a record so full of sparseness, so human in its handling of hopeless situations? On almost every track, The Infamous confronts us with savage turf battles, stick-ups, dead bodies and dead ends. It pulls no punches, and can make for an exhausting listen if one listens keenly to the stories Prodigy and Havoc tell. But at all times, the groove is there, knocking forth and back just right. The Infamous's pairing of harrowing rhymes and fluid jazz beats is a key part of what's makes it so essential.
On its 20th anniversary, Okayplayer first and foremost recommends that you listen to The Infamous in full. It's only right. Then, once you're finished, dig a little into the making of the masterpiece with two new video clips. The first, produced by All is Fair, reveals that Havoc almost deleted the "Shook Ones" on a whim before Prodigy stopped him in his tracks, and the second, from WatchLoud features both Mobbers extrapolating at length on Q-Tip's role in the making of the album. They're both essential viewing for any hip-hop fan, and should enrich your appreciation of the record for at least the next 20 years.