In 1995, Mobb Deep released the “Shook Ones Part II” and it became an instant classic.
The atmosphere and timing was right for it, with Nas releasing Illmatic the year before. Illmatic shined a light on life in the housing projects of Brooklyn, where everyone was packed in like sardines. Right away, it seemed like each borough was firing off an answer to Illmatic and for the the people of Queens, Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones” was an anecdotal account of the too real tragedies occurring each day.
Although Mobb Deep has a storied history in rap music, both together and with Havoc and Prodigy’s respective solo careers, “Shook Ones” will forever remain a key cornerstone when we study the culture of hip hop music. The song was immediately denounced as violent and gritty, which it was by Mobb’s own admission, but it contained a sort of first hand testimony to the pernicious nature of being a black male, post-crack in New York City.
To speak on violence, without glamourizing it, is one of the strong suits of Mobb Deep, and something that’s been in music lately. Havoc and Prodigy have been going strong since their reconciliation last year and have been touring to sort of commemorate the legacy they created back in ’94.
We’ve got some video coming up of their performance together next.