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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Hip-hop duo Mobb Deep: ‘Our music is the story of our lives’

The New York hip-hop duo talk about celebrating the anniversary of their classic album and tackling misconceptions.
Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep. Courtesy Jamil GS
Prodigy and Havoc of Mobb Deep. Courtesy Jamil GS

Mobb Deep have made a career of turning personal struggles into poetry. However, there are some events too hard to comprehend for the New York hip-hop duo.

Members Prodigy and Havoc expressed their sorrow over the deaths at The Bataclan Theatre during the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. It’s a venue they know well, Prodigy says, having sold it out last month when they played there on their world tour.

“It’s sad man how it went down and all these innocent people who lost their lives,” he says. “We were just there, and Paris is one of our biggest and favourite markets. It really hit close to home because Paris has so much love for us.”

The next stop on the tour is a debut UAE performance on Saturday as part of Dubai’s Sole DXB. They told to us about the celebrating the anniversary of their classic album and tackling misconceptions.

You guys have been touring like crazy for the last couple of years. Have you been seeing a new generation of fans in the crowd?

Prodigy: It’s a blessing man. These last three years we have been doing plenty of touring, travelling around the world and we are seeing the crowds getting younger and younger. We been kicking it with the fans at the end of each show and a lot of them are 18 and 19 years old. I would tell them: damn, I made this song when I was your age, and my son is 19. No matter, it’s ill and great to see how the music relates to the people.

What makes Mobb Deep stand apart is that aside from great production, all the albums are immersive and emotional experiences. Would you agree with that?

Prodigy: Definitely. That’s because our music is the story of our lives, our struggles and where we came from. I think our story is different from everyone else, but at the same time, people can relate to it because we all felt these emotions.

You have been touring on the back of your eighth album The Infamous Mobb Deep, a loose sequel to the seminal 1995 album The Infamous. Was their pressure when recording the follow up to a hip-hop classic?

Prodigy: The response from the fans have been great and it is a bit of a celebration type of thing because of the 20th anniversary of The Infamous. There is that level of pressure in that you want to make the whole project sound tight and we knew it was important to our career. I am glad the fans responded to it.

Many people out there still believe that Prodigy is the rapper and Havoc is the producer, when in reality Havoc is also skilled with the mic. Is that annoying?

Havoc: I think that because Prodigy is so good lyrically and I do the beats, people in their minds decided that’s how they wanted us to be. They repeat that to themselves until it becomes true. Part of it is also our fault as we never really corrected them because, personally, I didn’t care. It is what it is.

Talking about misconceptions, because of the dark subject matter and the imagery, do you think people have this idea that you guys are super-aggressive and that it is best to leave you alone than approach you and say hello?

Prodigy: I am sure that people also have that misconception about us. But once they see us on stage or meet us and read interviews like this, they can see as we are – which is normal people.

Havoc: People think that when they meet us that we will come to the shows with guns and knives and put everybody in a headlock. But that’s the surprise man – we’re actually some really cool dudes to be around.

• Mobb Deep perform as part of Sole DXB on Saturday. The event takes place on Friday and Saturday at Dubai Design District. Advanced registration grants you free entry from 3pm, or it costs Dh100 at the door. For more information, visit www. soledxb.com

ssaeed@thenational.ae