Listening to the recently released Mobb Deep Infamous Sessions is sort of like finding a lost book of the Iliad. It’s a sacred blueprint for bludgeoning. Both of them are basically about violence and drugs/”pharmakon.” What the Mobb did in 95 was a gift to anyone whose head was haunted and dreamed of stabbing people’s brains with their nosebones. For a teenager prone to sharp elbows on the basketball court which quickly turned to brawling, they were hell-sent. Every high school hoops game bus ride, this was the soundtrack. The sort of stuff I’d listen to until my bubbles popped in my blood and I wanted to decapitate the entire squad of W. Torrance High School. Or as Starks says on the alternate version of “Eye for An Eye:” Beatdowns galore.
The second disc comes packaged with Prodigy and Havoc’s eighth record, The Infamous Mobb Deep. It’s probably the best project they’ve put out since Murda Muzik, but no new music could ever top the peaks of 95. My favorite track on the outtakes is the new “Eye for An Eye.” Havoc’s beat was later flipped into Nas’ “Shootouts.” The team-up of Nas, Ghost and Rae, and Mobb at that time is one of the greatest posse cuts in rap history — even if they technically weren’t a posse. They were all united as the grimiest of a fourth wave of New York rap that made “The Message” look like Mother Goose.
As the song kicks off, this is the foundation. When you imagine NYC boom-bap, this is what exists in your head. It’s a sub-zero wind in bitter rap form. Rae rocking the camo Wu emblem bandanna with $100 Nike’s, kicking his cryptic slang. Ghostface’s verse reminds you why he’s top five all-time. This was recorded concurrently with Ironman and there’s everything from Johnny Cash references to the glory of a mint. You’ve heard Nas’ verse before, but it never fails to cause spams. And P and Hav were at their Henny and blunts-lit best. This is pure terror. The sort of stuff that you want to bump heading into battle. Plenty of time has elapsed, but this song and era can’t be improved upon. This was a sound hitting it’s stride then getting shot up before it could escape.