The Produce Section | 11 Havoc beats that are supreme
In this installment of the series, we cover Mobb Deep’s Havoc, who was instrumental in molding the Queensbridge sound.
REVOLT TV presents ‘The Produce Section,’ a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, The Produce Section is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare, and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of “The Produce Section,” we cover producer Havoc, who was instrumental in molding the Queensbridge sound that helped bring the neighborhood back to prominence. A native of QB, Havoc linked up with group-mate Prodigy while attending the same high school, forming the duo Poetical Prophets. After switching their name to Mobb Deep, Hav and P unleashed their debut album, which included five songs produced by Havoc, himself. However, the duo truly hit their stride with their sophomore album, The Infamous, which benefited from Havoc’s growth as a producer and was hailed as an instant classic.
Building on that momentum, Havoc went on a tear, reeling off a string of beats that have been deemed timeless, while lending his talents to the elite artists in the game. Dominating the late ’90s and early aughts with a sound and style of his own, Havoc continues to build upon his legacy. With a quarter-century worth of bangers under his belt, Havoc has a track record that precedes him and is regarded as one of the most respected producers of his era.
In our latest installment of our series, we celebrate and highlight 11 of Havoc’s most iconic beats that define his excellence behind the boards.
1. “Eye for An Eye”
Havoc lifts a riff from Al Green’s “I Wish You Were Here” for the creation of this murky backdrop from Mobb Deep’s sophomore album, The Infamous. Reinforcing the original sample with crisp snares, the production arm of the Queens-based duo delivers a classic instrumental with plenty of grimy appeal to spare.
2. “Shook Ones Pt. II”
Havoc utilizes various samples from yesteryear for the making of this career-defining instrumental. An ominous riff from Quincy Jones’ “Kitty With the Bent Frame” sets a tone of paranoia, while drums from Daly-Wilson Big Band’ “Dirty Feet” brings things together, resulting in one of the more grisly beats in hip hop history.
3. “Live Nigga Rap”
The ring of a gunshot prepares listeners for the firepower Havoc brings on this salvo from Queensbridge affiliate Nas’ sophomore album. Powered by strings and sturdy percussion, this track evokes masterful performances from Nas, Hav and P, and earns our appraisal as a gem in the producer’s catalog.
4. “G.O.D. Pt III”
A tumbling drum loop from Little Feat’s “Fool Yourself” gets paired with a sample from the 1983 film Scarface for this menacing selection from Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth album. Taking the crescendo of Giorgio Moroder’s “Tony’s Theme” and reworking the composition with his own signature twist, Havoc takes his production prowess to another level.
5. “Still Shining”
Havoc flips of Willie Hutch’s syrupy wails into this haunting backdrop from Hell On Earth, which showcased the boardsman’s transition from a neophyte into a bonafide beatsmith. Bolstering a sample of Hutch’s 1974 release “Hospital Prelude of Love Theme” with steely snares drums, Havoc cooks up one of the superior deep cuts on his and Prodigy’s resume.
6. “Last Day”
For one of his first freelance placements, Havoc took his talents to Bed Stuy, connecting with The Notorious B.I.G. for this searing soundscape from the rap icon’s sophomore album, Life After Death. Borrowing a wrinkle from David Axelrod’s “The Fly,” Havoc crafts the lone collaboration between himself and the late Brooklynite.
7. “Quiet Storm”
Havoc comes through with a banger for the ages with this smoldering track; which set the radio, streets and the club ablaze in 1999. Sullen piano keys and a drum loop are placed atop a bass sample lifted from Grandmaster Melle Mel’s 1983 hit “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” for this hard-boiled composition, which remains one of Havoc’s signature instrumentals decades after its arrival.
8. “Survival of the Fittest”
For the Mobb’s lyrical take on Darwinism, Havoc hooks up this brooding salvo from The Infamous. Built around a riff from Al Cohn and The Barry Harris Trio’s 1977 cut “Skylark,” elements from Kashmere Stage Band’s “Jeeps Blues,” and booming percussion; this instrumental is as gritty as they come and helps set the tone for one of the greatest rap albums of all-time.
Drum kicks, crashing cymbals and a frenetic riddim comprise the foundation of this selection from Mobb Deep’s 2001 effort, Infamy. The first single released from the album, this track was considered one of the hottest instrumentals of that year and helped usher the duo into the new millennium.
Havoc speeds up a sample of Gong’s 1975 release “Mandrake” and matches it with jittery percussion for this runaway hit from Jadakiss’ 2004 album, Kiss of Death. Peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song gave Havoc his highest-charting position as a producer and helped extend his reign as one of rap’s most reliable boardsmen.
11. “Hell On Earth”
Havoc does work with sturdy percussion and sublime strings for the backdrop to the title track from Mobb Deep’s Hell On Earth album. Known for crafting beats that induce pandemonium and terror, this selection from Havoc serves as a departure from his previous work and finds him adding live instrumentation into the mix.
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