When last we left you, Prodigy had taken us on a walk down memory lane with unknown tales of how the Nas and Jay-Z beef developed, insight on the murder of E Moneybags and how Mobb Deep evolved throughout their musical careers. You got behind the scenes info on how they got involved with drugs, how they became familiar with the Wu-tang Clan, and some of the tragedies that colored their music.
Now we come back to the table with a look at the group after Murder Music pushed them to platinum status. We get the truth behind the infamous ballerina pictures, and the connection with the tragic slaying of Jam Master Jay, as well as the dissolution of Loud records, and the release of the Infamy album. When Prodigy talks, you should listen. Part 4. Enjoy.
Planet Ill: So the infamous “ballerina” pic, that comes from your grandmother correct?
Prodigy: We grew up in poverty, you know what I’m saying? My grandmother was well off because of her business. She started a dance school business because she was one of the first Cotton Club dancers back in the days and that was her passion, dancing. So she started her own dance school business in the basement of her house in Jamaica, Queens and it blew up to the point where she owned her own building in Jamaica, Queens.
As I was growing up, that’s what I was around and as I got older they thought it was cute to have me in the tap dance class, you know what I’m saying? They had me out there playing myself son! Then when I turned 10 or 11 I was like, “Hold up, man I ain’t doing this shit I want to go outside, man! I want to play some basketball.” That’s when I started getting embarrassed like hold up. Girls is laughing at me son, I’m getting the fuck out of here.
But like I said, it’s not something I’m ashamed of. That’s my life, that’s my family. That’s how I grew up. Everybody from Queens know my grandmother and her dance school. Everybody that’s REALLY from Queens. They know about my grandmother and her dance school, ‘cause we been there for like 30, 40 years. Longer than that probably. In the same spot.
My grandmother, the building that she owned was the same building that Jam Master Jay got killed in. Right there in front of the bus terminal. Then she bought a new building down the block on Merrick. That’s just how I grew up that’s the reality of it. So he[Jay-Z] puts it up on the screen, and changes the date, and tells people, he says in a rhyme “You was a ballerina, I got the pictures I seen you.” So people go for perception, so the people that wasn’t at that show, automatically they going to be like, “Jay-Z had a picture of P with a tutu on!” Cause that’s the way he put it out there, you know what I’m saying? But that’s not even the reality of it. So the n***a’s lying. You’re a liar, you danced around the issue because you didn’t address what P is talking about.
So I took that and I was like, “Wow, this n***a’s a fake phony ass n***a right here, man.” Aight you made people laugh, aight that’s funny. Now what you gone do? Back to reality, the laughs is over, back to reality, now what? You going at me? Are you crazy, son? Do you know how personal I am? I will fucking make a personal vendetta for the rest of my life to make sure I will expose you, let people know what’s real and what’s not. So that was my attitude for making Infamy. And a lot of people say that Infamy wasn’t all that because P was concentrating on Jay-Z too much, bla bla bla. Whatever they want to say.
But I don’t listen to none of that because people’s perceptions is fucked up because he put it out there like that; something that it wasn’t. I don’t even look at it like that. I just think people’s perceptions was fucked up cause Jay-Z fucked them up. He caused a lot of hatred and that’s what he wanted to do. He tried to turn the people against Prodigy.
Planet Ill: So after Infamy, you leave Sony/Loud and you do the Free Agents album. Can you talk about that?
Prodigy: So after Infamy was a success, we had the ill “Burn” record on; had an ill beat. He [Havoc] said, “You like that , son?” I was like, “Yeah we gotta go after the bitches on this one. We got to do a song for the shorties. The shorties be at all the Mobb Deep concerts. They love the Lil Kim song. We gotta do songs for bitches, right now, son on this beat.” It was some hard shit but at the same time it could be on some light shit. On crossover radio. I was like son, watch what I write to it.
The way I wrote the verse, was like I had my arm around the girl and I was talking to her ear. I made sure I wrote the whole verse just like that cause it was something new. And somebody actually did that shit! The Ying Yang twins, son. They just took it even further when they did “The Whisper Song” you know what I’m saying? So that was all good, because that’s what goes on in rap, you add on. You gotta take from somewhere and just add on. I wrote that shit, I let Hav hear it, and he was like whoa that’s some ole new sounding shit, like you talking in a bitch ear. So we did that and we was like let’ put 112 on it that would be crazy. So we put 112 on it, put it out and that shit was popping on the radio. We had more spins than “Quiet Storm” or any other record we had, that 112 record. It was our highest radio performance record that we had.
On tour, at the shows, we seen it with the fans. It was more girls now. Son that’s what we needed because Mobb Deep shows, we’d be mad sometimes like man, n***as fuck the show up fighting you be like, “Damn so they fucked it up! We can’t even get off tonight.” N***as fighting started a riot and shit. So we started seeing more girls, we were like now this is what I’m talking about. We performing bitches going crazy for that song. And you could see n***as getting [sour], but we ain’t give a fuck how they feel!
And we chilling son, we got the number 1 for our career on the radio AND we brought out the bitches with that one. We brought out the bitches with Lil Kim, that brought mad bitches to the shows, more than ever before. But when we did the 112, that’s when they really came out. That was our mentality.At the same time, we didn’t forget about our n***as. That was our formula. Do this, then we play around with this. See what we can make to attract some females. You can’t leave the females out.
Planet Ill: Was the hood looking at you crazy?
Prodigy:Naaah. I would say 98% love and 2% haters. It was like 2% people hating on it , the rest was like, “Yeah, son!” Cause when it was show time, we bring out the ladies son. N***as ain’t mad at that. N***as was like yes, that’s what I’m talking about. It’s poppin’ at the show now, keep doing it. Real n***as ain’t mad at that. But at the same time too, it ain’t the first time we had an R&B chorus. We had songs like “Temperature’s Rising,” we did remixes with all kinds of people, Mariah Carey, all kinds of R&B shit. It’s funny to me how some of the fans were like, “Mobb Deep changed.” We ain’t change we were just being ourself.
Planet Ill: Let’s talk about Free Agents
Prodigy: When we did the Infamy album, Loud was going through a thing. They folded. Steve Rifkind had decided in his mind that he didn’t want to do what he was doing no more. Not do it no more, he wanted to do it differently. He wanted to shift his attention from New York music to South music. So what he did was, he decided to sell Loud to Sony for $80 million and then he started SRC and he signed Lil Flip and he signed David Banner.
I was kinda upset when it happened. We were going through our little thing, and I was dissing him in interviews. I wasn’t even dissing him, I was just putting out there the reality of the situation and expressing my anger towards it because I was like, “Do you know what we got here? You telling me that you don’t want to do this no more? We just starting!” Imagine if you do a Wutang, Mobb Deep, [Big] Punisher Tour? Like that was what we was supposed to be doing next.
Wutang had just dropped the double album, Punisher just went platinum, Mobb Deep just got off the platinum, we just did Infamy. It was poppin’ you know what I’m saying? This n***a like he don’t want to do it no more, he selling the company. AND he didn’t tell us he was doing it. But he told us indirectly. But he used us as a bargaining chip. Cause Sony didn’t want nobody else but Mobb Deep. When they bought Loud, they kept Mobb Deep, so we was stuck with Sony now. That’s weak we didn’t want to be on Sony. Yeah they got millions of dollars, they major and all that, but they not into real Mobb Deep shit, they too up there, we down here. We satisfied with what we got. We feeding our fans, we not trying to chase after that big machine.
So we would never be on Sony. Loud was like a family. We built that shit from the ground up. We learned the insides and outs from watching RZA, from watching all these n***as do it, from watching Steve Rifkind, and they was allowing us to be in there and listen and learn. Every move, every aspect of the game. Everything all the ins and outs. Steve Rifkind ain’t have to hide nothing from us. He never hid a thing, except the fact that he was using us as a bargaining tool before he sold Loud. It was ill how he did that shit it was crazy. We was going through that and that infamy album came out on Sony/Columbia.
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