RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, May 24

EWA100 - #41. Mobb Deep - Shook Ones pt. II

41. Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt. II (Loud. 1995. From the LP The Infamous)

Raven Mack: This is one of those smooth criminal songs, where it’s some serious trifling behavior being glorified, but it’s done in such a great way that it makes white people pretend they’re gangstas and talk in Tony Montana voices. Mobb Deep was great and all, but I never rode their jock intensely, mostly because both of those guys were too cutesy-looking to be that hardcore, which when they started doing pussyhound sell-out tracks, it made perfect sense to me. Still, this beat is the most non-Wu Wu-intense beat from that time period in rap, so it was kinda like hearing a sick RZA track with some non-Wu dudes rapping over it, and when one of them says something like “stab you in your face with your nosebone”, it gets your blood pumping. Used to be you’d get hyped over party shit, but laws have become so stifling in our lives, floating eyeballs running around making you take drug tests for your parole officers/guidance counselors, that the violent shit has taken over from the party shit. It’s more stimulating to hear somebody violently revolting against all this bullshit than to hear somebody just getting drunk, sniffing coke, and wrecking a new car around an oak tree.
Actually, it’s not; they’re both stimulating. I’m a bitch hippie in that self-destruction has always been my method, because if I was to stab some dude with his own nosebone, who’s to really say he deserved such a stabbing? Not me. I probably think this way because I read the Bhagavad Gita and Tao Te Ching and have learned to be open-minded enough that nothing makes absolute sense anymore. If I were brilliant and technologically-advanced, I’d genetically modify together some better aspects of Mobb Deep along with M.O.P., then take my time machine – which is sitting on platinum 28s that are purely cosmetic since a time machine doesn’t actually physically roll along the time line – back to whenever wack-ass year it was that Pulp Fiction came out and blew up and the stupid illegal Canadian I was painting with kept telling me like very seven minutes how he’d already seen that movie nine times and was going again when we got paid on Friday, and I’d release my Mobb Deep/M.O.P. monster on a violence-happy society and make millions, except of course, my creation would probably turn against me, but since it wasn’t a Hollywood sci-fi man’s creations gone awry flick, I’d just jump back in my time machine and scoot on home, after a stop-off in the late ‘20s to fuck me a couple of flappers.

Mike Dikk: When The Infamous was released, it contained all of the elements I didn’t like in my hip hop music. Uncharismatic monotonous flows coupled with minimalist and somewhat morose beats. It’s all very boring stuff on the outside, but Mobb Deep really sells it. They used that bare bones shit to bring their fantastical violent and nihilistic “reality” to life.
I hate to get all “White people be like, BUT Black people be like” on you, because I find it the hackiest form of comedy out there, but you’re more likely to get a product out of depressed and angry black teenagers that actually scare white folks for years to follow than you do from white kids. I know Punk Rock was built on being dangerous and scary, but that was when it was brand new. Now most adults only see it as a phase the kids are going through. Sure, there are things like Minor Threat’s “Out of Step” that still sounds raw and angry and completely legit to this day, but things like that are few and far between.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in all likelihood, a lot of the stuff found on The Infamous is highly fabricated. These kids, and yes, they were kids, not seasoned hitmen, met each other in an art school, not on a street corner. I’m sure there was some reality in there. I don’t know if it was specifically Havoc and Prodigy’s reality, but when you’re young and angry at the world, you’re filed with enough piss and vinegar to make figurative mountains out of molehills.
When you get older, you realize all teenagers are dumb and full of shit and too cocky for their own good. Some gifted young folks rise above all the typical teenage bullshit and make masterpieces within their preferred art form. When you’re young, you don’t have the same bindings that an older person might have. The world is yours and your conscious hasn’t fully matured, so you can be like “Fuck the world” and not worry about the consequences, because there aren’t any really. If Mobb Deep failed as a rap group, they would have had to go back to school. If you fail as an adult, you have a chance of becoming homeless with nothing to fall back on. The grown-up mindset could never craft a record like The Infamous and have it sound half as realistic as it does. The same way no one in their mid-twenties could ever re-create “Out of Step”, but people are still trying.
“Shook Ones - Part II” is the apex of all that pent-up teenage frustration, anger and depression. Instead of scrawling their thoughts in some lame ass journal, Havoc and Prodigy took out all their aggression on record. Weaving a serious paranoia-inducing song with enough raw energy (albeit, still kind of uncharismatic) to rival even the most caustic punk and hardcore. This song is teen angst at its absolute best, but in the typical critic’s eye, it’s always looked at as some realistic hardcore rap masterpiece, and not the teenage rebellion it really is.
This is really the only Mobb Deep song I could lose my shit over. The Infamous is a great record and it still stands the test of the time as a completely unique LP that has been often imitated (even by the group themselves) and never duplicated, and it’s not because there aren’t people out there doing dirt like the dirt that’s getting done on The Infamous. It’s more because there isn’t anyone out there that conveyed it as well Mobb Deep did. Some people might bring up Wu, but they were coming from a totally different angle in my opinion. As I was saying though, “Shook Ones - Part II” is the only Mobb Deep song that really moved me. There’s something about it that raises it above all the rest of their gun talk and project Rillness. They don’t give a fuck on the rest of the album, but they really, really don’t give a fuck on this one track. It’s an essential song as far as rap music goes, and I still find it hilarious that someone on the White Rapper Show thought this was a Digital Underground song. That’s like mistaking a penis for an enlarged clit.

Download: Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt. II

(Track is .m4a format. Sorry non-iTuners.)

Watch the video: (long version)

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