Happy 20th Anniversary to Murda Muzik, the fourth studio album by Mobb Deep which was released on August 17, 1999. The album lead single is one of the group’s best-known tracks, “Quiet Storm.” It is also the duo’s most commercially successful album to date, for shipping over 1 million copies in the United States and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts. A censored version of the album, titled Mobb Muzik, was released simultaneously. Since its release, the album has been certified 2x platinum.
Mobb Deep was a duo both representing Queensbridge Projects in NY. The group consisted of Havoc and the late Prodigy. They were known for their dark, hardcore delivery and Havocs dark melodic sounding production. Mobb Deep went on to become one of the most successful rap duos in hip hop, having sold over 3 million records.
The road to success wasn’t easy for the group when they started their careers in the early ’90s. In 91 Prodigy and Havoc began making Demo tapes. The would then find addresses on the back of albums and with their radio, they would play their music for all the artists and executives passing by. Nobody paid the young group attention but they were persistent. One day Q-Tip from the group stopped and listened to the youngsters. Q-Tip introduces Mobb Deep, they were called Poetical Prophets at the time, to Chris Lighty. Shortly after, Prodigy signed a solo demo deal with Jive Records and had an uncredited feature on the song “Too Young” by Hi-Dive which appeared on the soundtrack to “Boyz N Da Hood”. Jive decided not to sign Poetical Prophets as a duo, however, they were featured in the Unsigned Hype column of The Source Magazine which helped promote their demo Flavor for the Nonbelievers.
The next year the group changed their name and signed with 4th & B’way Records. Mobb Deep was their new name and they dropped their first single “Peer Pressure” of their debut album Juvenile Hell released in 1993. In 1995 the group finally managed to break through with their second album The Infamous. That album launched Mobb Deep to the top of the hip hop scene at the time. Prodigy and Havoc used this album to tell the story of their struggles of growing up in New York City’s Queensbridge Housing Projects. Following the release of The Infamous, Mobb Deep became the most prolific group of the East Coast. The production of this album was very dark and sample-based thanks to Havoc, who produced the beats from this point forward. Mobb Deep releases the hit single “Shook Ones Pt.2” the remix to the hit Shook Ones, received critical acclaim.
Mobb Deep’s third album, Hell on Earth was released in 1996 debuting at number six on the Billboard and the album continued the duo’s portrayal of harsh street life while further pushing them to the forefront of Hip Hop scene. Nas, as well as Method Man, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, appear on “Hell on Earth”.
In 1999, they released the highly anticipated album Murda Muzik. Despite extensive bootlegging that had the majority of its songs unintentionally leaked, it debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. The album took off and quickly became Platinum Certified and was further promoted by the popular single “Quiet Storm”. The remix of Quiet Storm featured Lil Kim and went on to be a banger further boosting Mobb Deeps and Lil Kim’s careers.
Murda Muzik starts with the song “Streets Raised Me” which is a tale about growing up in the harsh reality of the urban environment of Queens. The song features Big Noyd and has a soulful sound with a female on the hook. Another song feat Big Noyd was a high energy track called “Can’t F**k Wit” produced by Havoc and another that turned the energy up on the album was “I’m Going Out” where the duo raps how much they will ride for what they stand for. Another single from the album featured Queensbridge native and Hip Hop heavyweight Nas “It’s Mine” which peaked at 25 on the Billboard’s Hot Rap Track.
Mobb Deep was part of the infamous East Coast vs West Coast Hip Hop rivalry that was fueled and increasingly promoted by the private media. Tupac dissed Mobb Deep on multiple tracks, including: “Hit ‘Em Up” and “When We Ride on Our Enemies” Additional Tupac diss tracks include: “Bomb First (My Second Reply)” Mobb Deep retaliated on their 1996 release of “Hell on Earth” which contains a diss track entitled “Drop A Gem On ‘Em.” In an interview with Jack Thriller on ThisIs50, he was quoted saying.
“I was happy about it. The n—- saying our names. I didn’t know what the f— the beef was about. I didn’t even care. I was like damn, did you hear that? 2Pac dissing us. We about to sell some records.” Havoc also revealed that Mobb Deep had never even “crossed paths” with Pac before his death in September of 1996. He added, “And we never got a chance to cross paths with him because he passed away,” he said. “I saw him from a long distance but I never met him. [I was a] fan. But didn’t even know him.”
Mobb Deep released Infamy, Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape, Amerikaz Nightmare and Blood Money. In 2006, Mobb Deep became the first American hip hop duo to perform in India, via VH1’s Hip Hop Hustle.
On April 1, 2014, the group released its eighth studio album, The Infamous Mobb Deep, the album that included one CD with original new music and one with unreleased tracks from sessions from The Infamous.
On June 20, 2017, Prodigy died, while hospitalized for complications caused by sickle cell anemia in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mobb deep was a group that inspired a generation of street storytellers. “Murda Muzik” was the album to come that catapulted Mobb Deep to the next level. It out then in that upper tier of emcees at the time. In a summer full of hot release, “Murda Muzik” was the perfect way to end off a great season of music. Thank you Mobb Deep for the classic album and Salute on the 20th year anniversary. RIP Prodigy.