It's been nearly two decades since Mobb Deep shook the rap world with the seminal album The Infamous.
Yet despite feuds, jail sentences, '90s-era violence, and ever-changing trends, the Queens, New York City duo remains as strong and relevant as ever. Today, crew members Havoc and Prodigy run their own label, Infamous Records, and they're set to release their first studio album, Mobb Deep, in eight years.
To commemorate The Infamous' impending milestone anniversary, this upcoming record will come packaged with a remastered version of the classic as well as ten never-before-heard tracks. Havoc and Prodigy are also hitting the road, and they've chosen to kick off the tour at Miami's Bardot.
Over the course of a 20-year career that's produced seven albums, they have certainly earned their place in hip-hop history, but it hasn't been without tribulation. Following an arrest in 2006 for gun possession, Prodigy served a three-year bid in federal prison. And then, just a year after his release in 2011, a sudden feud broke out between the two Mobb members, leading to a Twitter spat and the announcement of an indefinite hiatus.
Last year, they reconciled. And now fans can look forward to catching up with the guys through some new music.
"Albums are like autobiographies," Prodigy suggests. "We always draw from experiences that we go through in life, wherever we're at, at that time."
And with his and Havoc's troubles behind them, he says there's a lot to be thankful for.
"One of the most exciting tracks for me is a song with the Lox. We're talking about how we can't believe that we were able to last so long and have so much success. We still here living it. We've seen a lot of people come and go, seen a lot of rappers get murdered, locked up, or fall by the wayside. We still here."
The key to that success?
"We're fans first," Prodigy says. "We love music, even more than hip-hop. We love rock music, jazz, reggae, R&B. We're fans of music. Plus, our love for each other and how we've seen our music impact the world and the fans. We've changed the landscape of hip-hop music. We know the importance of Mobb Deep and what we do. That's what keeps us going."
But Prodigy admits he couldn't have seen it all coming.
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"We didn't know we were making something that would last so long," he says, reflecting on The Infamous' success and longevity. "We definitely knew we made something that was important to us. It was dope music to us and our friends, but we didn't know it was going to impact the world like that."
In the end, it's that level of honesty to oneself as an artist, Prodigy believes, that leads to classic records.
"When I make music, I make music for me," he insists. "It comes from the heart and from the soul and from my life. It's the kind of music that I want to hear as a fan. When I put it out there, if other people can relate to me and the things that I like, then they will enjoy it too. That's how we make the albums. We really don't try to cater to what people want. We make what we want, and if people like us, if they can relate to us and know they share the same taste in music, they'll fuck with Mobb Deep. That's how it's been from day one, and that's how we just keep it going."