Having written a well-received autobiography, My Infamous Life, in 2011, Mobb Deep's Prodigy continues his literary career with the novel, H.N.I.C.
Bearing the same title as his year-2000 debut album and co-written with British author Steven Savile, the story follows Pappy, an ambitious product of the streets who has his sights set on leaving the crime-life for something more stable. Joining his childhood friend Black's crew as they carry out a bank robbery, Pappy imagines one last big score before he leaves town. Plans go awry, though, when Black, an "unpredictable motherfucker," murders a security guard during the robbery, setting off a chain of events that tests their loyalty. Violence, betrayal and vengeance ensue—depicted in a hard-boiled style that only Prodigy could pull off. Read the full text of the chapter below, or listen along to our exclusive audio excerpt.
Black said that it was going to be easy.
Black didn’t know shit. He just acted like he did, and no one questioned him.
The plan was simple: “We’ll just go in there, and when the shit gets real, we’ll wave our guns around. Put a couple of shots into the ceiling. Shout. I mean fuckin’ shout. Make a whole fuck of a lot of noise. We want to scare the tellers and keep them scared. Scared people do what you tell them. They don’t think for themselves. And we’ll just tell them to put the money in the bags while the piss runs down their legs.”
Pappy was cool with that. Scaring was fine. He wasn’t cool with the whole gun thing: you pulled a piece if you intended to use it, you didn’t need the whole swagger bullshit. Shooting the ceiling wasn’t a mile away from putting a cap in the girl behind the counter when she was too frightened to fill the bag fast enough for your liking. Things escalated. And Black was one unpredictable motherfucker. He was in it because of the thrill. He loved the fucking rush. Best fucking high ever, he’d said more than once. The money was just sugar. Sweet, sweet sugar, sure, but sugar just the same. Heat it up and it gets sticky and sickly and it stops being sugar. They were like that, Pappy and Black.
Pappy was all about the money. It wasn’t about control or respect or fear, or any of those other things that fired Black’s soul. It was all about the money.
And when the risk outweighed the reward it wasn’t a risk worth taking. There was no glory in going out in a hail of bullets. Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse behind was nowhere near as appealing as not dying young and instead leaving an old and haggard one behind. Pappy wanted to live. Really live. Suck the marrow out of the bones of life. What was the good in being beautiful if you weren’t around to fuck and sing and laugh and punch and, fuck, just all of that shit? A beautiful corpse would rot soon enough. So, no, it was about staying alive so long that he’d become the old nigga on the tenement stoop, smoking his liquorice-paper cigarette and blowing smoke rings while the kids fucked about, being kids.
And that meant using his head.