It’s been seven long years since Mobb Deep released a full-length album together and much has changed since then. Havoc explored his options as a solo producer while Prodigy served time in prison until last year. During their hiatus from recording, they left a gaping hole that had new rappers aspiring to fill the Queensbridge duo’s suede Timbs.
But now P is home, the pair is active again and both are looking to reclaim the Mafioso rap crown, a genre which they helped create. Mobb Deep already released The Black Cocaine EP as a teaser of what’s to come. They’ve been relentlessly touring the country and building their name from the ground up once more. On the way, TSS’ own Raj was able to chop it up with Havoc and Prodigy in San Bernardino about their relationship with Nas, Whitney Houston’s passing and the dark side of the spotlight.
TSS: What do you guys think of New York Hip-Hop today?
Havoc: New York Hip-Hop today is steadily coming back. It ain’t where it was but it’s definitely making a steady comeback.
TSS: Any artists in particular that make you feel that way?
Havoc: As far as New York is concerned?
Havoc: Maino doing his thing. Uncle Murda doing his thing.
Havoc: Pap, couple other new dudes out there.
Prodigy: Joell Ortiz.
Havoc: Yeah, definitely Joell Ortiz.
TSS: Can you guys hear your influence in the music today?
Havoc: Somewhat. Well scratch that. Definitely. Definitely, definitely.
TSS: Where? Anybody specific?
Havoc: Well, I couldn’t say anybody specific, you know what I’m saying? I don’t wanna put nobody out there. But you know, you definitely hear the influence, and we all from New York, so you’re definitely gonna hear it.
Prodigy: It’s a great thing man, New York is all together. First time in a long time.
TSS: And that includes you guys and Nas. There were issues between Mobb Deep and Nas for the last few years but since mid-2011 things got patched up and we finally heard the three of you on a record together. What was it like working with Nas again?
Prodigy: It was something magical man. It was like a soul feeling. It’s not just something that some rapper might slap together. It’s real. You can feel it. It means something.
TSS: Yeah, that “Dog Shit” record was one of my favorites from last year. I know you guys released a couple other tracks too. How long were you all in the studio together?
Prodigy: Aw man, we been working together for years man, you know what I’m saying? Since way back.
TSS: Nah, I mean recently. Since you got out of prison, specifically.
Prodigy: Recently? I mean we did like two joints, maybe three.
TSS: Are there plans to put him on the next Mobb Deep album?
Prodigy: Yeah definitely. That’s the whole idea. We definitely want Nas on the album, so we’ll see what happens.
TSS: Looking back, would you say your early success affected your later music?
Havoc: I mean, without it, we wouldn’t have had no later music. We wouldn’t have had the platform to keep making records, so it definitely impacted our later music in that aspect. I think the most impacting thing that about our early music was the fact that it gave us longevity. If it wasn’t for our first albums, we wouldn’t have had the longevity that we have. It gave us a sense of confidence, that we could do this for the long haul.
TSS: I’m not sure about the details of the next Mobb Deep project, but can you guys describe the sound and the direction that you want to take it?
Prodigy: I would say that we just sticking to our formula. Nobody makes beats like Hav, and nobody writes rhymes like us. So we just sticking to the formula that created our relationship with our fans. So we just gon’ stick to how we do it.
TSS: How has the relationship between the two of you changed over the years?
Prodigy: I mean, it’s just grown. You know, we went from boys to men in a minute (Laughs).
TSS: I can imagine. It’s been what, twenty-something years now?
Havoc: I just can’t believe I’ve known somebody that long.
Prodigy: I learned a lot from Hav. He taught me A LOT. And I know he be learning from me.
Prodigy: We just feed off each other, and that’s what’s made it work since the beginning.
TSS: Yeah, I remember Prodigy, you wrote in your book that you initially taught Havoc how to produce.
Havoc: (Laughs) Yeah, he definitely taught me. I was like ‘Yo, how you do that!?!”
Prodigy: Like I taught him the technical part of it. How to sample, and loop, and things like that.
TSS: And he just took off from there (Laughs).
Prodigy: (Laughs) And he figured it out after that and went whoosh. And it went both ways. He taught me how to rhyme better, because my rhymes was kind of wack. My shit didn’t really blend in with the rest of what Queens was doing at the time.
Havoc: I wouldn’t say that P, your rhymes was always on point. (Laughs)