At a time when you can buy screwed & chopped albums at Circuit City in Brooklyn, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that hip-hop was once a local phenomenon. More than just a voice of the ghetto, hip-hop at its best is the voice of specific blocks, capturing the distinct tone and timbre of an artist’s environment. Since the 1980s, New York City’s Queensbridge Housing Projects has been documented perhaps better than any other geographic location. Starting with super producer Marley Marl’s dominant Juice Crew in the ’80s all the way through ’90s mainstays like Nas, Cormega and Capone, the Bridge has produced the highest per-capita talent of any ’hood.
QB’s ongoing success is due in no small part to the efforts of Mobb Deep, whose trance-inducing 1995 single “Shook Ones Part II” painted a picture of Queens that will last forever. While Prodigy is originally from Hempstead, Long Island, his unflinching lyrics along with Havoc’s harrowing beats have forever tied their music with the Bridge’s musical legacy. Their upcoming G-Unit Records debut Blood Money is shooting for the stars on May 5, but they still haven’t forgotten their home base. XXLMAG.COM caught up with Hav and P and got them to break down each of their 5 favorite records from Queensbridge’s impressive musical canon.
1. MC Shan "The Bridge" (1986)
Aside from the beat being an obvious banger, it made me feel proud to be from bridge. Marley did his thing on this one.
2. Nas "Half Time" (1992)
I used to hang out with Nas when he was a teen. The first time he rapped on the block, he knew he was the best, at least to him. The whole projects went crazy for "Half Time."
3. MC Shan "Kill That Noise" (1987)
This song made me feel better after KRS killed us with "The Bridge Is Over."
4. The Kids (a.k.a. Tragedy) "Coke Is It" (1986)
This song is crazy ’cause Traj was only 13, but his flow was sick. Better than grown dudes. The way he used those big words was ridiculous.
5. Mobb Deep "Shook Ones Pt. II" (1995)
You know I can’t leave that one out. After coming out with our first album Juvenile Hell, which went double wood, "Shook Ones" solidified our position in hip-hop. It was our first gold record and without it, I probably wouldn't be doing this interview.
1. Marley Marl feat. Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap & Big Daddy Kane "The Symphony" (1988)
This was a hot crew record and the beat is crazy.
2. Nas "Memory Lane (Sittin’ In Da Park)" (1994)
This had a hot beat.
3. Intelligent Hoodlum (a.k.a. Tragedy) "Black and Proud" (1990)
The beat is hot!
4. QB's Finest feat. Nas, Capone, Mobb Deep, Tragedy, Nature, MC Shan, Marley Marl, Cormega & Millennium Thug "Bridge 2001" (2000)
This is the best crew record since "The Symphony."
5. Mobb Deep feat. Infamous Mobb "Thug Muzik" (1999)
This was the first Alchemist beat we ever rapped on.
DJ Hot Day & the Super Kids "Go Queensbridge" (1987)