Produced by: Q-Tip

Prodigy: “When we did that shit in Q-Tip’s crib we first came up with the concept for that song. He lived on Linden Boulevard in Jamaica. We were in his crib and he had made the beat right there and we were like, ‘Oh, this is fire right here.’ We took it to the studio later that night.

“Q-Tip was the one that got our foot into the industry. We met him and he brought us into the Def Jam building, which gave us a whole lot of connections for talent shows, parties, and things like that. People started knowing us and seeing our face. So when we finally got to The Infamous album, we were like, ‘We need to holler at Tip.’

“He helped bring us in and his production is crazy so we brought him in to consult for us. He executive produced the album, basically. He helped us out with drum patterns, he helped us tighten our sound up. Most of the songs on there—but not all of them—had his input. Like, ‘Yo, I think y’all should do this to this, add a little snare here, or a delay there.’ Little things like that. It just came natural.

“For that song, Q-Tip threw a record on, played it, and it was [Esther Phillips’ ‘That's All Right With Me’] which was the shit from LL Cool J’s ‘Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings.’ He had the original record. That shit amazed us back then, like, ‘Oh shit, this nigga got the original record!’ We was like, ‘Fuck that, we’ve got to take that beat and flip it, make it on some hardcore shit.’ Because L made the song talking about pink cookies in a plastic bag, it was kind of weird. We was like, ‘Fuck that. We’re going to make it some hardcore shit.’ So that’s how we flipped that shit.”

Havoc: “A Tribe Called Quest, their music was just crazy crispy and sounded so professional. We was so rugged and gritty with it, we just needed a snare that popped out the beat, and that’s where Q-Tip came in. And it wasn’t even verbal advice, it was like, ‘Just watch what I do as I go into the studio.’ He was like, ‘Check this idea out. What do you think about this?’ Basically, it was more of just a watch and observe and take that and run with it.”

Q-Tip: “I met Mobb Deep when they were doing their first album and we always stayed in contact. I remember I spoke to Havoc a few times and he was like, ‘Come through. Let’s work.’ I came through to the studio when they had the first ‘Shook Ones’ out. I can’t remember exactly though. You know, it was a long time ago.”

“I can’t remember which ones but I mixed a few songs on there that I didn’t produce. I don’t know if I was there at mastering, but I remember speaking to Matty and Havoc about the mastering and how they wanted it to sound. The engineers who engineered it, It was just another gig for them and they didn’t really give a shit.

“I was just trying to push the sound and make it sound as best as I could with what we were dealt. I remember wanting it to bang. Hav was really the general, I was just a soldier so I was trying to lend a hand. It was cool being in a dynamic where somebody else was taking the reigns. It’s a totally different sound than the Tribe stuff.”

Big Noyd: “I never really wanted to be an emcee signed to a label, but that one verse got me my first solo deal with Tommy Boy. We had a big show in Virgina and there was an A&R from Tommy Boy in the crowd. Mobb Deep was the first ones to wear bandannas and we made bandannas that said Mobb Deep on it. I wore mine to the show and when I was on stage, the crowd went crazy so I threw my bandanna into the crowd. When I saw them girls jumping for it, there wasn’t no turning back.

“And after the show my man is like, ‘Yo, somebody is trying to meet up with you.’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t got time for this. I just seen them girls jump on my bandanna, I’m trying to go find some ass.’ He’s like, ‘This is important.’ I’m like, ‘Set it up for Monday morning once we get back to New York.’ Eventually, he introduced me to A&Rs from Tommy Boy. They signed me and I got a record deal for $300,000 just for [my verse on] ‘Give Up The Goods.’

“Sometimes, I didn’t even have a choice of what the beat was. If I walk in the studio and that’s the beat that was up. If I had to rhyme to it, I rhymed to it. I might write a rhyme to it that P would be like, ‘No disrespect, this shit is good but you could do better.’ And I would have went in and wrote something else. It would be like, ‘It’s your turn to rhyme. What you got for this beat?’ And sometimes while Hav and P are taking a break, but the engineers are still ready to work, I’d jump on the mic and rhyme to the beat and sometimes they would keep it.

“You would have a conversation with P and never know that in his brain, he’s jotting it down. Whatever conversation you had with him, it would come out in a verse. He would just say it and flip it and you wouldn’t even think he was paying attention to you when you were having the conversation.”

Matty C a.k.a. Matt Life (Executive Producer and A&R for Loud Records): “There was an original version of ‘Give Up the Goods’ that was done early on. The original version was not a Q-Tip beat. Q-Tip wanted to get involved and he was open to being involved behind the scenes with me, overseeing the mixes and the whole thing. He really just fell in love with that initial tape.

“Initially, he wanted to help beef up some drums and ended up changing two tracks completely, ‘Give Up the Goods’ and ‘Temperature’s Rising.’ The thing about ‘Give Up the Goods’ and ‘Temperature’s Rising’ is those were originally Mobb Deep songs that Q-Tip redid from scratch so much, that it wasn’t worth calling it a remix.”

Schott Free (A&R for Loud Records): “Noyd and Havoc came with different rhymes than they had on the original ‘Give Up The Goods.’ P used the same verse.”