RIP Don P, The King. This week marked a dark week for Hip-hop and music lovers a like. The music world was marred with the news that nobody wanted to hear. The news that Mobb Deep front man Prodigy had sadly passed away after performing a gig earlier this week in Las Vegas. This loss has come as a huge shock to the world of music and will send chills down a lot of spines. Prodigy struck us all as the embodiment of immortality; he was fearless. His aura derived from his ability to stare death in the face without fear. Alongside a life of guns, violence and run ins with the law, supporters of the group will know that Prodigy suffered from sickle cell anemia from an early age, meaning a lot of his life was spent in and out of hospitals. This illness was just one of many battles and complications in his life but, it was just another he fought unconditionally. This strength, charisma and grit is exactly the reason why Prodigy was adored and respected by everyone in the game. The Queens based MC was one who rattled fear into his opposition whilst at the same time, acting the poet, telling the story of the struggle of the street. His passing marks one of the most significant and substantial losses in the history of Hip-Hop, however like all great musicians, his legacy will remain eternal.
Most will agree that pin-pointing a favourite Mobb Deep track is borderline impossible. The duo’s career can be tracked over eight unbelievable studio albums, as well as having an overwhelming influence on Hip-Hop as a whole. Personally, I consider them to be the greatest group of all time with the 1995 album ‘The Infamous’ ranking as the best Hip-Hop album of all time. Described by the New Yorker as being an accumulation of ‘Vivid storytelling and mystical slang beats that somehow balanced a sinister griminess with an effervescent nostalgia’ the album will go down in history as a staple requirement to any music fan wishing to understand upon what roots the genre was built on. Each track of the album tells a dark tale of the streets and the journey that the two nineteen year olds embarked on.
This week’s track of the week clearly revolves around Prodigy’s passing. So, it only seemed right to find the track which represents Prodigy and Mobb Deep’s sound for what it was; raw, rugged and rough. A lot of people will hopefully join me in saying that ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ is that track. The record became a hardcore Hip-Hop anthem and has been blasting from speakers since the day of it’s release. The sinister lyrics and beat express a sad but gripping reality for young Americans living out of the New York projects in the mid nineties. The evil, chiming instrumental mirrors the grimace of life and clearly resonated with thousands of people worldwide. The sample derives from a 1977 jazz number called ‘Skylark’ by Al Cohn and the Barry Harris Trio but is only a matter of seconds long. It gives credit to Mobb Deep’s Havoc, the master behind the majority of their instrumental influences.
Much like Prodigy himself, ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ will go down in history as one the greatest of all time, and deservedly so. For a true taste of the style and power of Prodigy, just check out him doing what he did best in ‘Survival Of The Fittest’. Rest in peace P.
Listen & enjoy here –