Tale of the Tape | Mobb Deep's "Eye For An Eye" ft. Nas and Raekwon
The track is from Mobb Deep’s 1995 sophomore album, ‘The Infamous,’ and this album helped establish Prodigy and Havoc as one of the hottest duos on the east coast.
In hip hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs — which are generally referred to as “posse-cuts” — have become some of the most memorable in the genre’s history, as rap’s most legendary stars team up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans’ fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT presents: Tale of the Tape, our series in which we break down the greatest posse-cuts of all time and rank the verses from worst to first.
In our latest installment of the series, we’ll be revisiting “Eye For An Eye (Your Beef Is Mine)” from Mobb Deep’s 1995 sophomore album, The Infamous, which helped establish Prodigy and Havoc as one of the hottest duos on the east coast. After releasing their debut album, Juvenile Hell, to minimal fanfare, Mobb Deep regrouped by aligning themselves with Loud Records and winning over the streets with “Shook Ones,” their first single to really strike a chord within the rap community. From there, the group constructed The Infamous. It included production from Havoc with additional production from A Tribe Called Quest member Q-Tip. Coming at a time when Queens rap was beginning to reclaim its glory, Mobb Deep’s Infamous spoke to those living in the underbelly of society and navigating through the concrete jungle.
While Prodigy and Havoc stuck to their own devices for the majority of the album, they did invite a few costars to partake in the proceedings, two of them being Nas and Raekwon. The four rhymers would match wits on “Eye For An Eye (Your Beef Is Mine).” The track is still hailed as one of the defining cuts from one of the greatest rap albums of all time.
Without further adieu, check out a ranking of the verses on “Eye For An Eye (Your Beef Is Mine)” below.
In addition to constructing the brooding instrumental, Havoc puts his rhyme spills on display on this outing by laying down a verse that captures him scoffing at those attempting to infiltrate his criminal enterprise. Following up on his cohorts opening stanza, the Mobb Deep boardsman attacks the track using a measured tone, vowing to continue trudging along the road to the riches, by any means necessary. The intimidation found in Havoc’s bar gives his performance a menacing undertone, but fails to elevate it above the other showings in this ranking.
Standout Lyrics: “Trying to make a mil is stress you know the deal/So we sling krills, get your cap peeled, cause everything is real/Cause I wanna chill, laid up in a jacuzzi/Sipping bubbly with my fingers on the Uzi/Try to infiltrate my fort get caught/Dead up in New York, my brain is packed with criminal thoughts/Get your life lost never found again my friend/Mission completed, watch you drop in less than ten.”
Prior to unleashing his acclaimed solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, in summer ’95, Wu-Tang member Raekwon blessed this selection from Mobb Deep, which solidified the Queensbridge and Shaolin connection. The last artist to speak their piece on the track, The Chef closes out the proceedings on a high note by ratcheting up the energy with his engaging delivery and vivid imagery. Despite having the shortest verse out of the four spitters, Raekwon shines regardless. He turns in a string of couplets that capture the listeners imagination, but fails to secure top billing.
Standout Lyrics: “But late night, candlelight fiend with a crack pipe/It’s only right, feeling higher than an airplane right/Word yo, I want to get this money then blow/Take my time, blast a nine, if you front you go/Sip beers, the German ones, hand my guns to sons/Shaolin, and Queensbridge we robbing niggas for fun/But still, write my will out to my seeds then build/Mahalia sing a tale but the real we still kill.”
Prior to 1995, Prodigy’s name was obscure at best, as a small segment of fans were privy to him and Havoc’s 1993 debut album, Juvenile. However, by the end of the year, the QB representative established himself as one of the more formidable lyricists in rap with his work on Infamous. This salvo was among the more awe-worthy performances on the album. Setting the tone from the opening bar, Prodigy uses his verse to give his account of an attempted robbery that quickly turns into a double-homicide, while doling out idle threats. One of the classic moments from a classic LP, Prodigy shines vibrantly on this track, but loses out on first place honors due to another worthy performance from a certain QB legend.
Standout Lyrics: “Let me start from the beginning, at the top of the list/Know wha’mean, Hav, situation like this/Another war story from a thirsty young hustler/Won’t trust ya, I’d rather bust ya, and leave your corpse for the cops to discover/While I be pimping in the Range Rover, all jeweled like Liberace/You watch me while Jakes trying to knock me and lock me/But I’ll be on the low sipping Asti Spumante.”
With the release of his debut album, Illmatic, serving as the culmination of one of the hyped arrivals of a rap artist on the grand stage, Nas was considered as rap’s hottest kid on the block among critics and purists alike. In 1995, the Nasty One built upon that buzz with a flurry of epic guest appearances alongside some respected lyricists. In that mix of feature verses, his most potent rhymes can be found on this collaborative effort, which the Queensbridge phenom dominates with a commanding showing. Introducing the world to his Escobar persona, Nas leaves no question as to whose verse was the illest on this timeless gem, earning himself the runaway victory over his costars.
Standout Lyrics: “A drug dealer’s dream: Stash Cream, keys on a triple beam/Five hundred SL green, ninety-five nickle gleam/Condominium, thug dressed like the gentleman/Tailor made ostrich, Chanel for my women friend/Murdering, numbers on your head while I’m burglaring/Shank is serving ’em, what’s up to all my niggas swerving in New York metropolis/The Bridge brings apocalypse/Shoot at the clouds feels like, the Holy Beast is watching us.”
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