When Jay-Z rapped “it’s like New York’s been soft / Ever since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings,” on his ’98 single, “Money, Cash, Hoes”, he probably had no idea it would set off a feud with Mobb Deep that would last for years.
But looking back at the situation now, you can kinda understand why Prodigy was offended by the record: Jay-Z was nowhere to be seen or heard at the time.
During the start of the East Coast–West Coast rivalry, Tha Dogg Pound dropped “New York, New York,” featuring Snoop Dogg on the hook, which was meant to be a tribute to the East Coast. However, after there was a drive-by shooting aimed at the filming set, the West Coast rappers changed it so they were kicking down New York buildings in the final video version.
In response to this, Mobb Deep linked up with Capone-N-Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi for “L.A., L.A.” The Mobb would also drop “Drop a Gem on ‘Em” going at Tupac, although they pulled the song off radio airplay after Pac was killed.
A few years later, with the coastal rivalry settled down, Hov dropped “Money, Cash, Hoes” featuring DMX, talking about how New York had gone soft and he was gong to restore the feelings. This pissed Prodigy off.
“That’s why we took offense when Jay-Z came out years later,” P explained to Complex. “After everything died down—and people lost their lives—he came out with that song ‘Money, Cash, Hoes,’ where he had that line ‘It’s like New York’s been soft ever since Snoop came through and crushed the buildings.’ We took offense to that like, ‘How you talking now? We was out there risking our lives.’”
“This shit was on and popping and we were still out there doing shows. This dude wasn’t around, he had nothing to say at that time,” he recalled. “That was kind of crazy that you just come out of nowhere talking about some shit that you weren’t nowhere around for, talking about you’re bringing back the feeling. We took offense, so we said something about it. That’s how that whole shit sparked with him.”
Not long after the song dropped, Prodigy began firing shots at Jay-Z in interviews. Hov would respond at Hot 97’s 2001 Summer Jam concert, debuting “Takeover”, which ended with the line “Ask Nas, he don’t want it with Hov, no!”
Once Nas was in the mix, the whole situation became focused on Jay-Z vs. Nas, with Mobb Deep pushed to the side. After a few back and forth jabs from both camps, most notably on “Crawlin’” which referred to when Jay-Z pulled out Prodigy’s ballerina picture at Summer Jam, the beef simmered down.
In 2017, a few months after Prodigy had passed, Jay-Z revealed in an interview that he and the Mobb Deep legend actually spoke before his death and were able to reconcile.
Jay-Z: I had super respect for Prodigy. In order for me to spar with you, really spar, I gotta respect you in some way. I gotta respect you. I sampled him on my first album, so you know I was aware of him and and had a respect him. We spoke. Me and him spoke before he passed. I saw him in a club, maybe five years ago. He just came over and we kicked it. It’s just sad. Blessings to his family. It’s sad. Young, young man.JAY-Z | Rap Radar Podcast