Poetical Prophets "Flavor For the Non-Believers"

In an era rife with kiddie rappers and R&B singers, Havoc and Prodigy (then doing business as the Poetical Prophets) showed the world that juveniles could roll just as hardcore as any of their degenerate grown-up counterparts. Anchored by a snaking electric piano loop, the OG run-through of “Flavor For the Non-Believers” actually trumps the subsequent released version for grimy appeal. After claiming “Unsigned Hype” honors in July of ’91, the demo attracted the attention of 4th & Broadway A&R (and world famous music journalist) Bonz Malone, paving the way for a name change, and Mobb Deep’s debut LP, Juvenile Hell.

When Mobb Deep’s 4th & Broadway situation deteriorated Havoc approached Matty C—transitioning out of his editorial post at The Source (where he wrote the “Unsigned Hype” column) and into an A&R gig at Loud Records—with a new demo track, “Patty Shop.” It was off the strength of this single demo track that Mobb Deep signed a new deal with Loud. (The remainder of what’s recently circulated as The Infamous Demos consists of fascinating early versions of songs that would later make up the bulk of Mobb Deep’s landmark second album.)

Schott Free on the creative leap the group had made: “On the [first] album Prodigy was more or less the dude choppin’ up [beats]. And Havoc was more or less the lyrical dude—even in a lot of instances writing a lot of Prodigy’s shit. But you see the dynamic switch with the demo. Havoc is the one that’s trying to chop beats and learn the MPC now, and Prodigy has this new style which is calm: ‘You got a lot of heart, boy/All that yappin’/Acting like it can’t happen/It’s niggas like you that fail to realize the realness/So now I gotta deal with this.’ That was a whole ’nother style for him. He [told me], ‘Yo, man, I just decided I want my style to be like I’m talking to these motherfuckers. I’m rappin’, but I want my style to come off like I’m having a conversation.’ And that’s when we love P the best: real calm and just conversatin’ with you.”