Record Label: RCA
This time around Mobb Deep play with the background tracks a little more, having self-produced virtually the entire album. The lead-off single, "Shook Ones Pt. II," blew up tremendously, first in the underground and then on the charts; it's killer lyrics and hypnotizing beat pounded a warning into the heads of the masses to stay real. "Survival of the Fittest" and "Up North Trip" both describe the hectic streets of New York as a war zone where the constant struggle is to stay alive. Mobb Deep join forces with two of rap's most intense lyricists, Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon, on "Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mine). " Adding to the all-star cast, Q-Tip donates an abstract feel to a few tracks and makes his cameo appearance on "Drink Away the Pain (Situations)," a clever track dedicated to an unlikely first love. Mobb Deep come correct throughout the album, once again proving that while rap may be just a music, hip-hop is a way of life. Score another point for the crews of Queensbridge, as THE INFAMOUS enters that 'hood's Hall of Fame right next to Nas' ILLMATIC. Mobb Deep's sophomore effort turned out to be a career-defining moment for the Queensbridge duo. Two years post-JUVENILE HELL, THE INFAMOUS saw Havoc and Prodigy turn considerably harder, spinning aggressive tales of paranoid crime drama and firmly establishing Loud Records as a label to be reckoned with. The Queensbridge housing projects as portrayed from the Mobb's late-teenage point of view is a violent maze populated by stick-up kids and fiends; a place where life is trife, liquor is poured out daily for dead comrades, police are the enemy, and childhood friends turn snitch. Havoc's no-frills East Coast production provides the perfect backdrop for the murky subject matter. Every song is a classic, packed with thug-life quotable which inspired dozens of subsequent street anthems and an array of imitators.