The Infamous
The Infamous.jpg
Studio album by Mobb Deep


25 April 1995


January 1994 - February 1995


Battery Studios
(New York City, New York)
Platinum Island Studios
(New York City, New York)
Firehouse Studios
(Brooklyn, New York)
Unique Recording
(New York City, New York)


Hip hop, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Boom bap




Loud Records / RCA / BMG


The Abstract, Matt Life (also exec.), Mobb Deep (also exec.), Schott Free (also exec.)

Mobb Deep chronology


Juvenile Hell (1993)


Hell on Earth (1996)

The Infamous is the second studio album by American hip hop duo Mobb Deep. It was released on April 25, 1995, on Loud Records, RCA Records and BMG. The album features guest appearances from Nas, Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, A Tribe Called Quest member Q-Tip, and close Mobb Deep affiliate Big Noyd. Embedded with hyper-visual lyricism, dark soundscapes, gritty narratives, and hardcore beats, it marked Mobb Deep's transition from a relatively unknown rap duo to an influential and commercially successful one.

The album's haunting style, defined by its evocative melodies, rugged beats, and lyrics dealing with crime and poverty in inner-city neighborhoods reflected the dark side of New York's urban landscape in a manner that received major recognition and high critical praise. Along with albums such as Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)Illmatic and Ready to Die, The Infamous is widely credited as a major contributor to the East Coast Renaissance. Furthermore, the album is credited with helping to redefine the sound of hardcore hip hop with its production style, which incorporated eerie piano loops, distorted synthesisers, eighth-note hi-hats and sparse bass lines.

Upon its release, The Infamous achieved notable commercial success. It debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200, and number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album produced three main singles, which all achieved varying degrees of chart success, with "Shook Ones Pt. II" being the most successful. On 26 June 1995, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Left-over songs from the album were released with Mobb Deep's 2014 album The Infamous Mobb Deep.

Background[edit | edit source]

While still in their late teens, Mobb Deep released their first album, Juvenile Hell, on 4th & B'way Records in spring 1993. The album featured production from several revered New York based producers, including DJ Premier, Large Professor and Public Enemy affiliate Kerwin Young, and included the underground single "Hit It from the Back". Due to the album's failure to achieve significant commercial and critical success, the duo was dropped from their label several months after the album's release. Mobb Deep later described Juvenile Hell as a "learning experience". In late summer of 1993, Loud Records was looking for another group to sign, owing to the success of Wu-Tang Clan's first single, "Protect Ya Neck", and by fall 1993, the label had signed Mobb Deep.

Recording and content[edit | edit source]

Recording sessions for the album began in January 1994, and ended almost one year later in February 1995. The Infamous was almost entirely self-produced by Havoc and Prodigy themslves, with contributions from Matt Life, Schott Free and Q-Tip (who is credited as The Abstract).

The duo's decided to handle most of the production after they were unimpressed with the beats they were receiving. Havoc later commented, "I didn't know nothing about producing music at the time, but I learned by watching others." The style of production on The Infamous was part of a change in New York hip hop from upbeat and jazz-influenced into raw, gritty beats. This style of production, often characterised by dissonant, minor key samples and heavily filtered bass lines became a hallmark of mid-1990s New York hip hop.

Reception[edit | edit source]

Commercial performance[edit | edit source]

The album spent 18 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart, peaking at #15, and it also spent 34 weeks on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, peaking at #3. The Infamous was certified Gold in sales by the RIAA on 26 June 1995.

Initial reaction [edit | edit source]

Upon its release, The Infamous received mostly positive reviews. Tiarra Mukherjee of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B+ rating, stating "Over mostly self-produced, bare-bones beats, the pairs hard-edged rhymes paint a chilling picture of life on their mean streets".[1] In its initial review, The Source gave the album a 4 out of 5 mics, with writer Dimitry Leger stating that Mobb Deep "paint vivid scenes of roughneck life with a humourous deadpan" and perform "straightforward, near spoken-word deliveries over stylish vocal gymnastics".[2]

Retrospect[edit | edit source]

Since its initial release, The Infamous has earned additional critical praise and has been widely regarded as one of the most important albums in the New York hardcore rap subgenre. Steve Huey of Allmusic wrote that the album has "the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama", praising its "detailed narratives" and "raw, grimy production" that "evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting".

The Source re-rated the album to its perfect five mics score in 2004, stating that "Prodigy's thugged-out entertainment and Havoc's sonic production on cuts like the bone-chilling "Shook Ones Pt. II" and the stick-up-kid anthem "Give Up the Goods" proved to be timeless street joints".[3] Rolling Stone also re-rated the album in 2004 to a maximum of five stars, calling it "one of the greatest rap albums of the '90s". XXL gave it a classic rating of "XXL" in its retrospective 2007 issue.

Track listing[edit | edit source]

No. Title Performer(s) Writer(s) Producer(s) Time
1. "The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)" Havoc, Prodigy Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 424
2. "The Infamous Prelude" - - - 2:12
3. "Survival of the Fittest" Prodigy, Havoc Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 3:43
4. "Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)" Prodigy, Havoc, Nas, Raekwon Johnson, Jones, Muchita, Woods Mobb Deep 4:54
5. "Just Step Prelude" - Johnson, Perry - 1:06
6. "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)" Prodigy, Big Noyd, Havoc Davis, Johnson, Muchita, Murray, Perry The Abstract 4:02
7. "Temperature's Rising" Havoc, Crystal Johnson, Prodigy Davis, Johnson, Muchita, Rushen, Washington The Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.) 5:00
8. "Up North Trip" Prodigy, Havoc Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 4:58
9. "Trife Life" Prodigy, Havoc Henderson, Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 5:19
10. "Q.U. - Hectic" Prodigy, Havoc Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 4:55
11. "Right Back at You" Prodigy, Havoc, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Big Noyd Coles, Johnson, Muchita, Perry, Woods Mobb Deep, Schott Free (co.) 4:52
12. "The Grave Prelude" - - - 0:30
13. "Cradle to the Grave" Prodigy, Havoc Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 5:16
14. "Drink Away the Pain (Situations)" Prodigy, Q-Tip, Havoc Clark, Davis, Jackson, Johnson, Maupin, McKnight, Muchita, Potyen, Summers, Youman The Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.) 4:44
15. "Shook Ones Pt. II" Prodigy, Havoc Johnson, Muchita Mobb Deep 5:24
16. "Party Over" Prodigy, Havoc, Big Noyd Johnson, Muchita, Perry Mobb Deep, Matt Life (co.) 5:40


  • Track 10 features additional programming by Tony Smalios.

Samples[edit | edit source]

The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)

  • "Maybe Tomorrow" by Grant Green

Survival of the Fittest

  • "Skylark" by The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn

Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mine)

  • "I Wish You Were Here" by Al Green

Give Up The Goods (Just Step)

  • "That's All Right With Me" by Esther Phillips
  • "Fly, Fly, the Route, Shoot" by If

Temperature's Rising

  • "The Sorcerer of Isis (The Ritual of the Mole)" by Power of Zeus
  • "Where Is The Love" by Patrice Rushen
  • "Body Heat" by Quincy Jones feat. Leon Ware

Up North Trip

  • "I'm Tired of Giving" by The Spinners
  • "To Be With You" by The Fatback Band

Trife Life

  • "You Are My Starship" by Norman Connors feat. Michael Henderson

Q.U. - Hectic

  • "Kitty With the Bent Frame" by Quincy Jones
  • "Black Frost" by Grover Washington, Jr.

Right Back At You

  • "Benjamin" by Les McCann

Cradle to the Grave

Drink Away the Pain (Situations)

  • "I Remember I Made You Cry" by The Headhunters
  • "Fly, Fly, the Route, Shoot" by If

Shook Ones Pt. II

  • "Dirty Feet" by Daly-Wilson Big Band
  • "Jessica" by Herbie Hancock
  • "Kitty With the Bent Frame" by Quincy Jones

Party Over

  • "Lonely Fire" by Miles Davis
  • "Outside Love" by Brethren

Credits[edit | edit source]

  • A&R Direction: Matt Life, Schott Free & Stretch Armstrong
  • Art Direction: Merge One
  • Mastered by: Leon Zervos
  • Mixed by: Mobb Deep (track 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 13, 15, 16), Tony Smalios (track 1, 3, 4, 6-11, 13, 16), The Abstract (track 6-9, 14), Tim Latham (track 14), Louis Alfred III (track 15)
  • Photography: Chi Modu
  • Recorded by: Louis Alfred III (track 1, 7, 8, 11, 13, 15, 16), Tim Latham (track 3, 4, 6, 14), Dino Zerros (track 9), Mobb Deep (track 10)

Album liner notes[edit | edit source]

Prodigy thanks:
Moms, Pops, Grandma J, The {HNIC}, My brother Greg and family, to my n Christobo {kid hold your own}, The Big Greg G and Buttafucco {and the whole Sumnerville Mobb}, Screwface {Dr. Seuss}; The whole Virginia Mobb, the twins D&D and they brother; Queensbridge Projects "back 'em up to the rear" 41st thru 40th side; to motherfuckin' St. Ides for keeping me lifted; them crazy ass Jamaica niggas, 116th and Sutphin Blvd. The whole Darkside crew Russ and Rod and things like that; Baisley, 40, the Group Home, Rockaway Blvd.; Hempstead {The Desert} L.I. crew Blaze, Ken & Crip, T-Lunch, Chris, Lil' Brian, the soldiers {Money Noel, Demo, Money U, Tori, Kye, Kawon, F.A.M. {Fuck All Mankind}, Big Kev, Gino, Milladon, Torin, Big Drew, Chris, Spud, Dougie Fresh and the whole Drive Mobb, P.S.G., Parkside keep it real, Trackside representing the real, Roosevelt, Nassau Rd., my man Shawn, Big Dave, Dorian, Big Mike, The whole Terrace Ave. crew {worldwide, Baby!} The Bronx Mobb; D Black, Derrick & Al, Crunchy, Nikki, Damont, R.I.P., my man James, Damage and the whole shit. Lefrak City {Big Sha and his whole crew}; Troy Ave up in Brooklyn {Ferg and his whole crew}; Matt Life and Schott Free, the select few; Raekwon and Ghost, Q-Tip, Big Noyd, Primo and Nas good lookin' out; Killer B hold ya head!!! To all my niggas whose name I left out it's been a long time; KEEP IT REAL!!! The revolution is coming.

Havoc thanks:
My family for their love and support, to my brother, hold your head son; my lady Leshaunda and her pops for blessing me when I need it; my niggers on the 41st side here and now and lockdown, T-Dad, Spank, Stu, Lake Luciano, Cormega, Rapper G, Trip, E-Bag, Prince god, Skins, Big Bill, Ky Capone, JoJo Dancer, Kiki, Noyd, Black, Twins, Tamone, Mahari and his sister Chataun, Thuggish Ruggish (Big Tu), R Gotti, Ty & family, D-Brown, Ceadric, Q-Tip good looking for everything, L.E.S., Raekwon, Ghost and the whole Wu-Tang Clan, the whole Shaolin, Hype and his peoples; Spunk, Lameik, Tragedy, Ice, Ravenswoods click, Rud, Tommy Gun and the whole Astoria click; Dream Hampton, Draws, Ty-Ty, Lil' Lord, the Hixon family, Kamakaze, A.C.D., Lil' Adam, Killer Kids, Hots, Poet, Biz, Puff Daddy, Biggie, Craig Mack, Buster Rhymes, Funkmaster Flex & the Flip Squad, Angie Martinez, the Hot 97 staff, Premo & Gangstarr, the Group Home, Smif-n-Wessun, Buckshot, Stretch Armstrong, Bobbito, Cheryl Tyrrell, Vicki and RCA staff; to engineers Louis, Tim and Tony; Super Ed, Matty C, Schott Free, Cella Dwellas, Tha Alkaholiks, Tammy, Peachie, Charlene, Steve Rifkind and the LOUD staff; Fuck Island Records (4th & Broadway) and what!

Loud Records gives special thanks to Courtenay "Soup" Henderson, Deborah Mannis-Gardner and Laurie Marks

References[edit | edit source]

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