When you start talking about some of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, there’s one name that comes up in that conversation, time and time again: Mobb Deep’s Havoc.
As the legendary beatmaker behind some of New York’s most timeless anthems, including “Shook Ones (Part II),” “Survival of the Fittest,” “Front Lines (Hell on Earth),” and “Quiet Storm,” there’s no doubt whatsoever of Havoc’s skills behind the boards.
However, what many fans might not know is that it was Prodigy who initially taught Havoc how to produce beats, laying the foundation for the distinctive and influential production style that would come to define Mobb Deep’s sound. Havoc had some experience with production before teaming up with Prodigy, but it was Prodigy’s guidance and expertise that helped to take their beats to the next level.
“Prodigy was the guy that taught Havoc how to program and chop beats,” Schott Free, an A&R at Loud Records, recalled in an interview. “He was the production dude but since P would get sick so much, Hav had to learn to make his own beats and P couldn’t really do anything except sit around from his sickle cell disease, so he had all that time to think of song concepts. And that’s how everything started to change.”
Together, the two developed a production style that incorporated hard-hitting drums, eerie keyboard melodies, and samples from classic soul, funk and jazz records, creating a sound that was both atmospheric and intense. Tribe’s frontman, Q-Tip, was also around during the recording of The Infamous and mentored Havoc on production techniques to make the drums knock. Tip also contributed three beats: “Give Up the Goods (Just Step),” “Temperature’s Rising” and “Drink Away the Pain (Situations).”
Over the decades, Havoc would continue to refine his production sound, producing multiple classics for Mobb Deep, Nas, Capone-N-Noreaga, Eminem, Kanye, Styles P and plenty other legendary rappers.
Prodigy: Hav’s pops was a DJ, so Hav had a lot of records from the ‘70s and the ‘80s. We both had a good record collection. Hav was already listening to records before I met him. He was trying to sample on a cassette player, hit record, pause, record, and pause, and making the beats like that. When he met me, we bought the equipment. That’s when he started to really get into making beats. I actually showed him how to sample, how to do this, and how to sequence the shit. Once he got the hang of it he just went in and started going crazy.”The Making of Mobb Deep’s ‘The Infamous’ | Complex