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Rap - Released September 25, 2014 | RCA Records Label

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
One of the cornerstones of the New York hardcore movement, The Infamous is Mobb Deep's masterpiece, a relentlessly bleak song cycle that's been hailed by hardcore rap fans as one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever recorded. Given Mobb Deep's youthful age and art-school background, it's highly unlikely that The Infamous is drawn strictly from real-life experience, yet it's utterly convincing, because it has all the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama. That's partly because of the cinematic vision behind the duo's detailed narratives, but it's also a tribute to how well the raw, grimy production evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting. The group produced the vast majority of the album itself, with help on a few tracks from the Abstract (better known as Q-Tip), and establishes a spare, throbbing, no-frills style indebted to the Wu-Tang Clan. This is hard, underground hip-hop that demands to be met on its own terms, with few melodic hooks to draw the listener in. Similarly, there's little pleasure or relief offered in the picture of the streets Mobb Deep paints here: They inhabit a war zone where crime and paranoia hang constantly in the air. Gangs are bound together by a code of fierce loyalty, relying wholly on one another for survival in a hopeless environment. Hostile forces -- cops, rivals, neighborhood snitches -- are potentially everywhere, and one slip around the wrong person can mean prison or death. There's hardly any mention of women, and the violence is grim, serious business, never hedonistic. Pretty much everything on the album contributes to this picture, but standouts among the consistency include "Survival of the Fittest," "Eye for a Eye," "Temperature's Rising," "Cradle to the Grave," and the classic "Shook Ones, Pt. 2." The product of an uncommon artistic vision, The Infamous stands as an all-time gangsta/hardcore classic. ~ Steve Huey

Rap - Released January 1, 2006 | Interscope

Blood Money provides G-Unit with the opportunity to attach themselves to the legacy of Mobb Deep, and it gives Mobb Deep the chance to connect with a younger set of rap fans. Both groups take full advantage. The G-Unit stamp is all over the album, from the packaging to the mostly self-contained content -- 50 Cent drops in on five tracks, while Young Buck, Tony Yayo, and Lloyd Banks also guest. The album alternately sounds like a proper Mobb Deep album and a Mobb Deep album hosted (and occasionally overrun) by G-Unit, and neither camp is close to operating at full strength. The best example of the alliance's negative effect on the headliners is "Give It to Me," a rote "Candy Shop" knockoff in which Prodigy only fuels the argument that he has slipped as a lyricist: "I'm tired of finger-f*cking this phone/Phone calls bore me, you got me horny." Though Havoc (six tracks), Alchemist ("The Infamous"), and Sha Money XL and Ky Miller ("Put Em in Their Place") come up with some productions worthy of Mobb Deep's old standard, they're easy to lose in multiple stretches of plodding low-wattage tracks. The flashes of brilliance that were once routinely delivered by Havoc and Prodigy are few and fleeting here. ~ Andy Kellman

Soul/Funk/R&B - Released November 20, 2000 | LOUD Records

Mobb Deep became a street-level sensation with its second album, The Infamous, and the duo saw no reason to tamper with its signature style on the follow-up, Hell on Earth. The first words on the record announce "You know how we did on the Infamous album, right? All right, well, we gon' do it again," and that's exactly what they do. Hell on Earth refines the Mobb Deep formula, amplifying much of what made The Infamous a success. The bleak street narratives are even more violent and extreme, and the production is even grittier and creepier. It's still indebted to -- but more dramatic than -- the RZA's work with the Wu-Tang Clan: eerie strings and bits of piano, underpinned by deep, echoing beats. Although the overall flavor is pretty much the same as before, it's a bit more sophisticated and cinematic. For those reasons, some Mobb fans actually prefer Hell on Earth over The Infamous, although it's missing some of the thematic unity and clearly emphasized details that made the world of The Infamous so cohesive. Hell on Earth also lacks some of the freshness, but even if Mobb Deep is repeating itself, it's doing so very effectively. The album is superbly moody and haunting, with the swirling horror-film atmospherics of "G.O.D., Pt. III" and the hypnotic "Hell on Earth (Front Lines)" standing out in particular. "Drop a Gem on 'Em" is another highlight, an answer song in the 2Pac beef that happened to appear not long before the rapper's murder. Special guests Method Man, Raekwon, and fellow Queensbridge native Nas all put in worthy appearances. Even if it isn't quite the landmark that The Infamous was, Hell on Earth is nearly its equal in many other respects. ~ Steve Huey

Soul/Funk/R&B - Released August 17, 1999 | LOUD Records


Rap - Released August 26, 2015 | Mobb Deep LLC


Rap - Released May 17, 2015 | Mobb Deep LLC


Rap - Released February 13, 2015 | LOUD - Columbia


Rap - Released April 7, 2009 |

Throughout their 15-year-plus career, Mobb Deep has seen their share of ups and downs. After their sophomore effort, the now-classic the Infamous set the bar for unflinching, reality-based East Coast thug rap, and their follow-up, Hell on Earth, upped the ante for bloody, gunplay-driven imagery to almost cartoonish proportions, the duo fell into a cut-and-paste routine delivering a handful of more-of-the-same efforts (see "Murda Musik," "Infamy"). Then came the notorious 2001 Summer Jam festival when the Mobb's street cred suffered a blow thanks to Jay-Z's revelation of a certain photograph that likened Prodigy to the African-American equivalent of Billy Elliot. For finicky hardcore rap fans whose concept of respect almost always corresponds to "realness," Prodigy's (and Havoc's, by extension) thug image was called into question. Despite the duo's consistently murky and ever-more violent output since then, the Mobb Deep brand never fully recover from Jigga's suckerpunch, even after a short-lived affiliation with 50 Cent and G-Unit -- arguably the East Coast outfit which most projects uncontested "realness." Their eighth full-length effort, The Safe Is Cracked, represents a symbolic return to Mobb Deep's underground roots. Released on West Coast indie label Siccness (best known for putting out the ultraviolent, horrorcore of Brotha Lynch Hung) with nearly zero promotional support behind it, The Safe Is Cracked is a collection of grimy, street-level cuts, heavy on lyrical nihilism and spine-tingling production-- the sort that earned Mobb Deep the respect of hardcore hip-hop heads way back when-- and bookended by two audio excerpts from a DJ Envy telephone interview with an incarcerated Prodigy (just to add an extra touch of "realness"). Still, it's not an official studio LP; the tracks included stretch back as far as 2004, a few sound like they were intended for the Blood Money track list (the piano plink beat of "Yea Yea Yea," for instance, feels like it was tailor-made for 50's flow) but, in contrast to that mediocre Interscope release, there's nothing here that could be considered radio-friendly. Always known for antagonistic lyrics, Prodigy pushes his screw-faced skulking even further, explaining why he refuses to be cheerful on the haunting album-opener "Heat"-- "I don't even tease myself no more/Or put smiles on my face, man that shit is all wrong." Havoc and Prodigy then move into downright silly territory on "Watch Ya Self" as they rock over a shlocky Count Dracula organ loop, warning their enemies, "Watch yourself/Your life could end up like a horror flick" without a hint of self-irony. Elsewhere, paranoia and mistrust abound with Prodigy musing, "They wanna put us in boxes, them coffins and them jail cells/They wanna catch us on tape snitchin' on ourselves" on "Can't Win 4 Losin'," and spitting over the rowdy, electric-guitar-driven beat of "Get Out Our Way" with authority, "Y'all die coward's deaths/We go down in infamy/They shook of us/They wanna do us like 'Pac, Biggie." The most compelling songs here-- "M.O.B.," "Position" and "You Wanna See Me Fall" -- are built on vintage soul samples, in which Havoc composes melodic beatscapes which nicely offset his and Prodigy's hard-edged vocals and brutal subject matter. All things considered, The Safe Is Cracked is far from a classic but it proves that one of QB's finest acts still has plenty of fire. ~ Matt Rinaldi

Rap - Released January 1, 2006 | G Unit - Interscope Records


Rap - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal Music


Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Universal Music Division Polydor


Soul/Funk/R&B - Released August 10, 2004 | Jive


Soul/Funk/R&B - Released December 11, 2001 | LOUD - Columbia

Long considered New York's most rugged and hardcore rap group of the '90s to ever make it big, Mobb Deep finally soften up a bit on Infamy. The album is a turning point for Prodigy and Havoc -- and a timely one indeed. Shortly before Infamy hit the streets, Jay-Z had blasted Mobb Deep -- as well as Nas -- on "Takeover," berating Prodigy in particular for being fake. Nas fired back on his Stillmatic album with the cutting song "Ether"; Mobb Deep didn't. Instead, the Queensbridge duo went about their business and released Infamy, their most accessible album yet -- the sort of album many fans never would have expected. Granted, Mobb Deep still rep the street life here, as songs such as "Kill That Nigga," "My Gats Spitting," and "Hurt Niggas" no doubt illustrate. However, songs such as "Pray for Me," "Hey Luv (Anything)," and "There I Go Again" sent quite a different message; the first features Lil' Mo, the second 112, and the third Ron Isley -- each there to smooth out Mobb Deep's rough sound. And it works, particularly in the case of the thug ballad "Hey Luv (Anything)," which garnered the most exposure the duo had yet experienced and introduced Mobb Deep to a broader audience. ~ Jason Birchmeier

Soul/Funk/R&B - Released August 17, 1999 | LOUD Records

After a three-year hiatus and numerous release date pushbacks, Mobb Deep got on their job once again with the punishing release of Murda Muzik. The duo, well-known for their lethal realism both in their infinitely dark yet moving beats and their stark and ruthless crime-rhyme lyrics, continued their grim odyssey with this, their fourth effort. Released amid so much watered-down product, Murda Muzik is an arguable masterpiece in the Puffy and Master P era. Mobb Deep once described their music as the sound of hypnotic thug life. An accurate description, for their music is more than just guns and herb smoking, it taps into the collective sense of fear and horror, the evil in men's hearts, and the struggle for good in the gardens of waste. Mobb music can make you cry, can make you scared, can amplify your inner rage; its depth allows for the gamut of emotional reactions. On this album, primary producer Havoc reached a high level of mastery in his production efforts, a truly signature style of deep bass grooves, piercing organs, ice-cold snare pops, melodic samples, and haunting orchestral snippets. Each song creates its own mood, whether it be a call to stop the violence on "Spread Love" or a call for full-throttle livin' on "I'm Goin' Out." Guest appearances by Raekwon, Lil' Kim, Lil' Cease, Cormega, Kool G. Rap, Eightball, and Infamous Mobb add texture to already bangin' tracks. The album overall can best be described as pure ear- and mind-twisting pleasure and pain. The album will affect you, get under your skin, make you rash up, and then salve you. Murda Muzik is a complete album and a renewal of the truly hardcore movement. ~ M.F. DiBella