Many conversations were had on this topic between myself and others this year. The question is which album and artist suffered most after “Hit Em Up” dropped? My Stance: Nobody took a L bigger than Mobb Deep in all this. Not even Chino XL.
It’s November 19, 1996 and Mobb Deep dropped their third [yes 3rd] album, Hell On Earth, and from a career standpoint that became symbolic to this period of time.
In ’96, an album with Method Man, Raekwon, Nas and Havoc’s production on Loud Records would have been deemed an instant classic for anyone; Especially for a group that put out a certified classic the year before. However, an unstoppable force buried this album, and it’s dopeness. That force was the angry wrath of Tupac Shakur.
By November 19th of 1996, All Eyez on Me was given the crown as album of the year in hip-hop. “Hit Em Up” was being mentioned as the greatest diss of all time, and Pac had been dead for 2 months. Outside of Lil Kim’s catalog, the Makaveli album was the only album anyone spoke on. Add that to a group that was now known for being added to Pac’s “Fawk You List” and it was anything but easy for the Mobb to keep momentum going.
“L.A, L.A” was a decent set of jabs while everybody was living. It would also go on to be added to the debut album for Capone-N-Noreaga in 1997.
“Drop A Gem on Em”, the Pac Diss was a featured song and rumored to have a video was stifled because of Pac’s death. At that time in hip-hop it wasn’t cool to speak on the dead. Making diss tracks aimed at a person that couldn’t respond wasn’t honorable. Looking back, it appears that neither Loud Records nor Mobb Deep had a promotional plan in place after Pac passed. Sadly they never mended the fence that the biggest rapper in the world tore down prior to his death.
This album is dope! It’s vicious, melodic, even spooky. “Man Down”, “More Trife Life” and “Get Dealt Wit” are bright gems on the track list. Havoc is a much better emcee on this album, yet it’s critical acclaim and gold status by spring of 1997 couldn’t help its placement in hip-hop memories. This is also one of the first releases to have the “Enhanced CD” that you had to “Put into your CD ROM” to get the “bonus content”. Havoc sampled Tony’s Theme from Scarface on the album. He might have been the first to do that.
Much like the young people understand today, It’s hard to get positive, progressive press when the number 1 rapper in the game doesn’t like you. What Mobb Deep understands better than anybody is how to try to drop an album after that rapper dies.
Media and Music moved a lot slower in 96 and I think Mobb Deep got it worse than Biggie, Junior Mafia, Jay and Nas. Unfortunately in 1996, The people remember:
Oh yeah, Mobb Deep: you wanna f**k with us?
You little young-a$$ motherfu**ers
Don’t one of you ni**as got sickle-cell or something?
You’re fu**ing with me, ni**a
You f**k around and catch a seizure or a heart attack
You better back the f**k up
Before you get smacked the f**k up
and hardly anyone remembers
You yell my name, that’s only giving me props
Plus the fans that you got wondering what’s got you hot
It’s too not, knocked out the box and got rocked
Got raped on the Island, you officially got
Kick that thug s**t, Vibe magazine on some love s**t
Keep it real kid, cause you don’t know who you fu**ing with
And Prodigy with his “Dry Snitch-esque” Bars like.
My rebellion, retaliate, I had the whole New York state
Aiming at your face at the gate
Bottom line off top soon as you came through
Shots flew, don’t even know the half of my crew
I got a hundred strong arm ni**as ready to rock your s**t
Clocks tick, your days are numbered in low digits
When you see my clique you need to run behind shit
You got a gat you better find it
And use that s**t, think fast and get reminded
Of robberies in Manhattan, you know what happened
60 G’s worth of gun clapping
Who shot ya? You probably screamed louder than an opera
New York got ya, now you wanna use my mob as a crutch
What you think you can’t get bucked again?
Pac dying was the “East Coast vs West Coast Beef” going too far and unfortunately Mobb Deep dropping in November after his demise and after the Makaveli album didn’t help their cause on either end. Although the summer of ’96 was huge, I truly want to know if Mobb Deep tried to push this album up.
Respect to both Mobb Deep and Hell On Earth. A dope body of work that dropped too late. Click here for more Mobb content on Ruby Hornet.