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Prodigy Breaks Down Eight of His Most Memorable Lyrics

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Prodigy of Mobb Deep's made a career out of attention-grabbing lyrics. And, P's sure to add more notable lines to his 20-year catalog with the release of his third solo LP, H.N.I.C. 3 today (July 3). The veteran wordsmith recently chopped it up with XXL to explain the thinking behind eight of his most memorable lyrics. —XXL Staff (@XXL)

“Illuminati got my mind soul and my body/Secret society, tryin’ keep an eye on me”— On LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya (Remix)," Mr. Smith (1995)

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When I was in high school, I started readin’ Dr. York books and he was explainin', breakin’ down the origins of the Illuminati and where that came from. That was like, unheard of before. Nobody knew what that was, or what that word was. The information that Dr. York used to put in his books was so ahead of its time. I was into a lot of that growin’ up because where I’m from in Long Island there’s a lot of five percenters and the Gods and the Earths, just bein' around that sparked my interest about other things like Black History, where religion comes from and where our people come from. When I found those books, they had the most reliable source of information came from Dr. York books and they used to sell them in the streets everywhere. I got into all of that back in the days and then I so happen to put it into the rap. I said, “Fuck it. Let me just throw this shit in here.” People might not know what I’m talking about, but fuck it. Years later people started catching on.

“We bustin’ caps non stop blazin’ at the shows/and even at the hoes”—Mobb Deep “Start of Your Ending,” The Infamous (1995)

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That was just like a freestyle. The rhyme had already ran out, so I was just like freestylin’ at that point… "At the shows, even at the hoes," like it rhymed with shows. Plus, when niggas start shootin’, they don’t even be carin’ who else is over there in that area they shootin’ at, not thinkin’ about what them stray bullets can hit and go into somebody’s house, kill a baby, or anything that can happen. It comes from a little bit of that too.

“There’s a war goin’ on outside no one is safe from”—Mobb Deep “Survival of the Fittest” (1995)

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I think it just comes from me growin’ up. When I was a young teenager, I used to wanna be Slick Rick, Kool G. Rap, LL, Run-D.M.C. with the big rope chains, but especially Slick Rick. He just went and took it overboard. When I started makin’ a little bit of money, I started goin’ to Jamaica Ave, Canal Street, gettin’ big chains and wearin’ all that to school, '88, '89. I saw what came along with that. Rick had to pop his cousin. When I seen that, I was like, “Whoa, I’m about done. Niggas’ll try to rob me for my shit. Plus I was going to school with all Brooklyn niggas. We used to be on the train with the Decepticons and the Lo-Lifes. These niggas was cuttin' niggas everyday. Everyday I came to school somebody had a new cut on their face. I was like, “They’re not gonna do that to me.” I bought me a little gun and that’s where lyrics like that come from.

“For all those who wanna profile and pose/Rock you in your face, stab your brain with your nose bone”—“Shook Ones Pt. II,” The Infamous (1995)

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I think it was from a movie I’ve seen. It might have been Last Boy Scout. I think I was watchin’ the movie and I seen a scene where they did that, hit him in the nose. I was like, “That’s crazy. I’m puttin’ that in a rhyme.”

“The P rock 40 inch cables/Drinkin’ white labels/My chain hang down to my dick/My piece bang glass tables”—“Quiet Storm,” Murda Muzik (1999)

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That comes from…we all had a crib together, me, Havoc, [Big] Noyd and the Twins. We had this glass table in the kitchen. You know, I was rockin’ a long chain and every time I got up, my shit would slap the table. And I would be like, “Oh shit, I think I broke the table.” That’s where that came from, just sittin' at that table at the crib and every time I get up, bang. It was a strong glass table cause the piece that I had was stupid heavy, like platinum piece. I’m surprised it didn’t chip or crack the table ‘cause every time I hit the table, I’d be like, “Oh shit. I almost broke the table just now.”

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“For years I’ve been doin’ the same shit/Just drinkin’ liquor doin’ bids/Extortin' crackheads and stickin’ up the stick-up kids”—Mobb Deep "Give Up the Good," The Infamous (1995)s"

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Stickin’ up the stick up kids that come from when we used to be on the block in Queensbridge, and niggas outside hustlin’ and shit. The stick-up kids used to come from Brooklyn. They used to come to our projects and used to be robbin’ niggas. We be chillin' on the block sometimes and niggas just put the word, “Yo, stick up kids is ridin’ around. Watch out. After a while you just get the attitude, like, “Let them niggas come over and watch what’s gon happen to them niggas tryin' to stick someone over here." That just comes from that mentality. Aight, they stick up kids. That’s what they do. But fuck that. We got guns too.

"Now, homie if I go to hell and you make it to the pearly gates/Tell the boss man we got beef"—Mobb Deep "Pearly Gates" Blood Money (2006)

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What I was tryin' to say on that song was my opinion on organized religion. Before we were brought to this country as slaves, we had our own connection with the most high. We had our own connection with God. It wasn’t no bible back then. They forced Christianity onto us. So that came from my opinion about them doin' that to us. So when I say that line in the song, I’m talkin' about the religion that they forced on us. I’m not talkin’ about my real spiritual connection with the real God that I believe in. But, when you try to fit that shit into a one minute verse, sometimes you might not do it right. I think I didn’t do that one right 'cause it confused people. But, at the time I wrote it I knew it was gonna confuse people. And I said to myself, "I’ma say this line, and when people are confused and ask me about it in interviews, that’s when I can have the long drawn out conversation and we can talk about why I said that."