Mobb Deep - "Shook Ones Pt. II"

The most successful and influential artists that derive much of their lyrics from acts and threats of violence tend to have a sick and twisted sense of humor about it (see Wu-Tang, Biggie, Mobb Deep), but “The hood imagery of the lyrics is utterly pervasive and uncompromising, immersing the listener in a foreign land smack in the middle of New York,” wrote Gavin Mueller of Stylus Magazine on the Wu-Tang’s debut album, “There is no celebration here, and little hope.”

Mobb Deep has not been the same since Jay-Z *infamously* burned them on his 2001 song “Takeover” (pun, intended).  Jay-Z revealed that lead MC Prodigy had taken ballet classes as a child and released pictures of a young Prodigy dressed up as Michael Jackson.  This image went contrary to Prodigy’s claims of a hard upbringing and it has since been revealed that the duo of Havoc and Prodigy originally met at the prestigious High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, a school which likely would not accept thugs or gangsters.

Whether or not what Mobb Deep rights is true, there is a reason why so many believed them for so long prior to Takeover.  Prodigy and Havoc weave intricate and believable tales of urban America and their 1995 release The Infamous is considered a classic amoung hardcore east coast rap.  Though it originally receiving 4.5 mics in the Source, was later rerated to 5 mics.  The album, following in the tradition of Wu-Tang’s Enter the 36 Chambers, has a raw, gritty, stripped-down, and minimalist beats that serves to emphasize both the lyrics of the emcees and the gritty, hopelessness of the environment they are attempting to describe.

Whether or not the events of “Shook Ones Pt. II” (off of The Infamous) are true, it is still considered a classic among hip hop heads.  The beat is one of the more recognizable in the genre and the lyrics tell the story of inner-city youths engaged in territorial wars.  It makes no apologies for its grim tone nor offers any solutions.  The factors and solutions are, instead left up to the listener, making “Shook Ones” one of the more thought-provoking and complex songs of hardcore rap.

The song has had a lasting impact on hip hop.  If you listen closely to the last song I sent you, you’ll notice that Atmosphere references the song in their intro to “Always Coming Back Home To You.”

Peace, Love, and Halfway Crooks,
Neolithic Noah

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