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Combat Jack Presents: True Stories Behind 25 Rap Classics

C.N.N. f/ Mobb Deep & Tragedy Khadafi "L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix By Marley Marl)" (1997)


Produced by: Marley Marl
"I had been working with Trag since like '93. It was a while since he had dropped anything. Dude was always focused on his craft as a rapper. We'd be out at events, parties with chicks, and then he'd excuse himself briefly from the festivities, just to write some new rhymes he'd just come up with into a notebook or pad that he always carried with dude. Trag also had this uncanny talent to spot future talent, he was always signing or trying to sign new acts. One day, he even had a young Mark Ronson in my office. Trag was going to sign him to a production deal through his 25 II Life production company/label. Mark Ronson repping Queensbridge would have been one of the strangest unions of all time.

"Tragedy had just had me draw papers up for his latest act, Capone-N-Noreaga. Trag had printed up these realistic looking "wanted" flyers, one with Capone's face and one with Noreaga's. The mock "wanted" flyers had a list of each of the rappers' “rap sheets,” offering a reward of like $100,000 for each, dead or alive. He had put hundreds of these flyers up on trains, on buses, wherever. One day, he was in the train station by the Queensbridge projects when he overheard these two thuggish cats studying one of the flyers, speaking on the reward and how 'they couldn't wait to see this nigga in the hood' so that they could bag them to collect that reward guap!!! Trag immediately did his best to take down all them flyers. Reflecting, he told me 'I forgot how thirsty Queensbridge cats are. Any types of reward ads look real to them brothers. I didn't want one of them ruthless wolves to do some type of damage to my new artists, especially behind some realistic marketing plan that I came up with.'

"Shortly after that, Trag finally fired shots back towards Death Row. Where a lot of NY rapper cats was on that Martin Luther King, Jr. peace vibe with regard to all the disses that were coming from out West, them dudes from Queens wasn't having it. Tragedy was the elder statesmen, him having a hand in forming Mobb Deep (he reportedly blessed Prodigy with his name) and further armed with his new group, Capone-N-Noreaga. As their general, he and crew had enough of the East Coast bashing. Taking the hook from the famed 'New York, New York,' CNN and friends made it known that the returned shots were everything but subliminal. Before the record dropped, Trag played it in my office. I fake played lawyer, asking him if it was worth going to war with Death Row, and how two wrongs didn't make a right, but down deep down inside, I was cheering for the home team. A few months after Tupac died, Trag shared with me how 'Pac was always one of his favorite rappers and how, even though they had 'beef,' his talent could never be ignored. That bugged me out a bit because I didn't expect Trag to feel that way about Tupac."

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