Rap in the modern age is drowned in theater. Today, the lines between reality and fiction are often so blurred that it’s tough to tell what’s fact or fiction. Ironically, the old adage of “keepin’ it real” was tossed around too lightly amidst the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.
One exception to that rule was Mobb Deep. A quarter century ago, Havoc and Prodigy helped ignite the East Coast hip-hop renaissance with their sophomore album, The Infamous, which held up a dark, gritty, realistic mirror to their particular world.
Using their lyrics like a photojournalist might use their camera, the duo brought listeners into their often haunting and impoverished corner of Queens. Add in the powerfully sparse, jagged production, and you have a record that changed the perception of hardcore rap forever.
For its ninth season, The Opus heads to Queens to discuss the landmark album. Join host Andy Bothwell as he gets the street-level facts from Havoc (the surviving member of Mobb Deep) and Infamous Executive Producer/A&R Schott Free. He also hears some insights from syndicated radio host Headkrack, rapper and Paid Dues curator Murs, and Pitchfork writer Paul Thompson.
Together, they discuss how Mobb Deep’s journalistic devotion to spitting the truth raised the bar to an impossible standard that even the greatest rappers of their day could never match.
If you missed past seasons of the series, no worries! You can find a full archive of The Opus here.
In celebration of its 25th anniversary, stream Mobb Deep’s The Infamous – 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition via all major streaming services.