Produced by: Q-Tip

Co-produced by: Mobb Deep

Prodigy: “We created that beat in Q-Tip’s crib. He had made these two beats in the crib, [one was ‘Give Up The Goods’ and] that was one of them. We were going through records. He was like, ‘Yo, I got this Patrice Rushen record right here. Check this part out.’ Q-Tip probably enhanced it. It was probably just like, a skeleton at first, and then he probably fixed it up, and threw all of the little sounds on it.

“We took it to Platinum Island, me and Hav did our vocals on it, and then Q-Tip did his a couple weeks later. When I heard it I was like, ‘What the fuck is he rapping about? It doesn’t match the song. He’s talking about clothes, we’re talking about liquor.’ It kind of threw me off at first, but then people was like, ‘Nah, that shit sounds good son,’ so I started liking it after a while.

“‘He was talking about ‘Polo is my dude, Tommy Hil is my nigga,’ and all that type of shit. So he flipped it. It was ill because we were doing the same thing about the liquor. We were talking about Hennessy and St. Ide’s like it was a female, like we was in love with it, and all our friends was like, ‘Yo, this is no good for you. Stop fucking with her. It’s going to hurt you in the end.’

“I came up with that rhyme in the park, drinking fucking OE one night with my man Gary in this little park in Hempstead, Long Island. We were just sitting there getting drunk and I just started freestyling that rhyme, ‘I used to be in love with this bitch named E&J/Don’t fuck with her no more, now I fuck with Tanqueray.’ That shit just turned into a real song.”

Havoc: “That record right there had a weird loop, a weird sample. It was a three-bar loop and Q-Tip was good for just doing things outta the ordinary. We was getting white boy wasted in the studio. [Laughs.] I can’t measure [how much we was drinking], but trust me it was too much for any young human being. We were just in there with gallons of liquor, mad weed. But amazingly we got the job done. That’s how hungry we were.

“Liquor was kinda like our aid. We converted it into energy and it should have the opposite effect, but when you have somebody that is determined to make it they’re gonna turn any negative into a positive. But here's the thing. Liquor was mostly my thing at the time. Even though I smoked mad weed, I would definitely drink more than I would smoke. Prodigy was more of a weed smoker and I was always more the drinker.”

Q-Tip: “They were obviously doing the liquor shit and it was they shit really. But they were just like, ‘Yo, jump on this shit.’ And, I mean, I was drinking but I wasn’t really drinking like that back then. That wasn’t my poison of choice. So, I was just like, ‘Yo, being that I’m the sore thumb on this record, let me just stick out all the way and go left of what they were saying.’ I flipped it and that’s one of my favorite rhymes actually.

“I loved doing that record. That’s that smooth criminal shit. It’s hard but it’s got that energy on it. Like when you listen to some thugged-out albums—for the majority of it—it’s real sausage music. You ain’t gonna really have a lot of chicks listening to that shit. So you can either do one of two things: You can make a song directly speaking to ladies or you can make it dark.

“There’s a difference between dark and hard. Hard shit is really hard for women to like because it’s such a sausage [fest]. You speaking to dudes, really. But if you do it dark, that’s a different emotion, a different sensibility. With dark, you could add sensuality or sexiness or all that shit. So, that’s what those songs kind of had to them for Mobb Deep. That’s what enabled that album to reach dudes but women as well.”

Matty C a.k.a. Matt Life (Executive Producer and A&R for Loud Records): “Q-Tip messed with a lot of other ideas and he was headstrong about a certain vision he had. I think it wasn’t too hard for them to be cool with it after all Tip had done, despite any creative concerns about [his verse]. That was the time when Tip could’ve been doing so much more, but he was highly selective and he was mad cool about the budget situation. It was just such a huge look and I think P realized it.

“One thing that I remember that was interesting in the studio about Q-Tip at the time was he was on his righteous, Muslim, Kamaal; he was doing push-ups in the studio. He just wasn’t down with the plastic cups and the bottles of Henny. The booze just wasn’t his thing. P was starting to get into the more righteous outlook, looking for Rae and Ghost more. As he went into the second album, he was getting more into that headspace too. I’m glad he learned that.”

Schott Free (Executive Producer and A&R for Loud Records): “A lot of times, if we had to be in the studio early I would make Havoc come home to Staten Island with me. I had [my own] house, but sometimes my moms would come through. One day, my moms is passing through and Hav is sleepwalking because everyday when he woke up and he had to have a 22oz of St. Ides. He wouldn't go to sleep unless his deuce deuce was in there for the morning. He called it his breakfast.

“So Hav is sleepwalking, grabbing his deuce deuce out the fridge, and my moms coming in. Hav is like, 'How you doing ma'am. Nice to meet you.' [Laughs.] My moms is pulling me to the side like, 'Who's that little boy you got drinking beer in the house in the morning?' And I'm like, 'That's my artist.' Right there was my mom's introduction to the Mobb Deep phenomenon.”