Mobb Deep’s ‘The Infamous’ Turns 22
A look back at one of the grittiest hip-hop albums ever.
Twenty-two years ago today–April 25, 1995–Mobb Deep released its second studio album The Infamous. The project rose from the ashes of Mobb Deep’s 1993 debut, Juvenile Hell, which failed to connect and led to the duo losing its original deal with 4th & B’way Records. The Infamous was another story. The group’s first project under Loud Records, which was fresh off the success of breaking Wu-Tang Clan’s hardcore East Coast sound, The Infamous was a taut and harrowing 67 minutes; a stark departure from teenage party anthems like Juvenile Hell’s “Hit It From the Back,” and a hard turn toward making music for the streets. Produced nearly entirely at Havoc’s home in Queensbridge (with additional production from A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip), the 16-track collection is defined by heavy bass lines, menacing piano loops and vivid hood storytelling. Featuring guest verses from Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Nas, and Q-Tip (among others) and such indelible East Coast anthems as “Survival of the Fittest,” “Temperature’s Rising” and “Shook Ones Pt. II,” the album is credited–along with Nas’ Illmatic, Biggie’s Ready to Die, Nas, and all things Wu–as one of the catalysts for the so-called East Coast Renaissance in the wake of the late-’80s and early-’90s G-Funk flood.
The Infamous spent 18 weeks on the Billboard 200 and was RIAA Gold certified just two months after its release. Twenty-two years later, it remains one of the grittiest hip-hop albums to ever come out of New York, featuring bars that are still some of the the most quotable in the game. “The Mobb comes equipped for warfare, beware.” Stream the entire album below.