On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN sat down with Havoc of Mobb Deep and Styles P of The LOX to discuss their careers, most memorable moments and their joint album, Wreckage Manner.
Often credited as one of the main catalysts in the East Coast resurgence during hip hop’s golden era, Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep took the world by storm after the release of their 1995 track “Shook Ones (Part II).” The group, comprised of Havoc and Prodigy, was known for their gritty inner-city narratives and brooding production. Havoc provided many of the group’s famous beats and later went on to become one of the most iconic producers in hip hop. Throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s, the group added to their repertoire of rap classics with songs like “Survival of the Fittest,” “Quiet Storm” and “Get Away.” Although Prodigy died in 2017, Havoc still continues to keep the group’s legacy alive by touring and recording new music under their moniker.
Styles’ ascent also came in the mid-90s, alongside LOX group members Jadakiss and Sheek Louch. After they were discovered by fellow Yonkers, N.Y. native Mary J. Blige, the singer forwarded their demo tape to Diddy, who signed them to Bad Boy Records. The group went on to appear on numerous Bad Boy tracks before releasing their debut album Money, Power & Respect in 1998. By 2000, The LOX left Bad Boy and signed to Ruff Ryders and released their follow-up effort, We Are the Streets. Shortly thereafter, the group’s members pursued solo projects and Styles’ A Gangster and a Gentleman album was released in 2002. “Good Times” was the lead single off the project and it went on to reach No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. Now, over two decades since The LOX’s debut, Styles is considered a rap veteran. He’s released an extensive list of solo projects over the years and continues to perform and record with the group.
Last December, Havoc and Styles teamed up to drop their collaborative album, Wreckage Manner. The 10-track project was entirely produced by Havoc and has received favorable reviews from numerous outlets.
Below, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from our enlightening Styles P and Havoc “Drink Champs” interview. Be sure to tune in if you haven’t already.
1. On The East Coast-West Coast Feud
Tupac Shakur’s infamous 1996 track “Hit ‘Em Up” intensified the East Coast-West Coast feud upon its release. But, the Notorious B.I.G. and Bad Boy Records weren’t the only artists that Pac took aim at on the song. He also took a few shots at Mobb Deep, which later spurred the group to release their response song “Drop a Gem on ‘Em.” Havoc spoke about the notorious coastal feud during the interview and said that he always assumed it would end in tragedy. “We’re from the hood, so I’m thinking that this might not end up well,” he said. “We’re going back and forth, doing diss records. We were going to L.A. and checking in hotels under assumed names. At that point, I did think it was going to go far because niggas weren’t playing.”
2. On Making The “Shook Ones (Part II)” Beat
Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones (Part II)” is undoubtedly a hip hop classic. On “Drink Champs,” Havoc talked about how the famous beat came together, revealing it all started in his kitchen. “One time, I wanted to eat some Ramen noodles. So, I put the noodles on the stove after getting high,” he said. “I just [left the gas on the stove] ticking. I got the recorder and I recorded it and then I put it back into the MPC60.”
3. On Beef With JAY-Z
Years after the East Coast-West Coast feud simmered down, a beef between JAY-Z and Mobb Deep was incited after the Roc-A-Fella emcee released the track “Money, Cash, Hoes.” Prodigy took issue with some of Jay’s lines in the song and eventually spoke out about it. JAY-Z later responded to Mobb Deep on his track “Takeover” and also attempted to publicly humiliate Prodigy by displaying an embarrassing photo of him during New York’s 2001 Hot 97 Summer Jam concert. Havoc explained to N.O.R.E. and EFN that he never wanted the beef to happen. “It made me feel crazy because I was fond of JAY-Z,” he said. “I never really wanted to go at Jay. At that point, I just wanted that shit to kind of fizzle out because I didn’t think it was good for us. Jay had the shit on fire and I would have rather been an ally more than an enemy.”
4. On Their Wreckage Manner Joint Album
Havoc and Style’s Wreckage Manner album is the duo’s first project together. During the interview, Styles praised Havoc’s production and also talked about how their joint album came to fruition. “Hav is one of the illest producers in the world,” he said. “He sent me the first joint and I really went to the studio right then and there. I sent it right back and then was off to the races. I just felt honored.”
5. On The LOX and Dipset’s Verzuz Battle
Last August, The LOX went head-to-head with Dipset in a legendary Verzuz battle that’s still being talked about on social media. Shortly after the matchup, a video of Cam’ron kicking Styles during the event made its rounds online, prompting many to think the two had beef. However, according to the “Good Times” rapper, there’s no bad blood with the Dipset frontman. “I love Cam, so I ain’t going to swing on him,” he said. “The biggest part of the battle was that we all left in unison with our hands up doing something for the city. For me, that’s the important part. Know that we’re businessmen and no matter what the results are, we are going to leave in unison.”
6. On Rick Ross’ “BMF”
Rick Ross’ 2010 single “BMF,” which also featured Styles, became a summer smash shortly after its release. In addition to peaking at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs, it was certified platinum. During the interview, N.O.R.E. said he once heard the “BMF” beat was sent to Styles accidentally. Although the rapper didn’t confirm if those details were true, he reflected on the track’s creation and later success. “He sent the beat, I sent him 24 [bars],” he said. “All I know is a couple weeks later my phone is going crazy, and somebody said that shit’s the biggest record in the world. I thought it was one of my shits that they were talking about. And then it just kept taking off and taking off.”
7. On Producers Not Receiving Royalties
In January, it was reported Pete Rock was gearing up to file a lawsuit against Nas for unpaid royalties from the Queensbridge rapper’s 1994 debut album, Illmatic. Havoc told the “Drink Champs” crew he wasn’t surprised about the situation because the same issue has happened to him in the past. “I produced for dozens of artists that I ain’t see no fucking royalties from,” he said. “I don’t blame the artist; I blame the fuckery ass labels.”
8. On The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Last Day”
Later during the interview, N.O.R.E. asked the rappers about their memories of B.I.G.’s “Last Day” track, which appeared on the late legend’s 1997 album Life After Death. The song, produced by Havoc, also featured The LOX and was one of the trio’s earliest mainstream introductions. Styles spoke about what it was like working with B.I.G. and explained the late emcee was highly selective when it came down to who to collaborate with.
“If you think about it and you think about B.I.G., he didn’t call that many people to rhyme with or work with,” he said. “If you look back at it, everybody he called to work with or do anything with, who are they and what are they today? They are Jedis and they’re elite. Think about it.”
9. On Filming The “Survival of the Fittest” Video
“Shook Ones (Part II)” is now a golden era hip hop staple. But Mobb Deep’s second single, also released during The Infamous album era, is considered a classic too. “Survival of the Fittest” peaked at No. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and also cracked the Top 10 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. Havoc reflected on shooting the video for the track and remembered Diddy pulling up for a cameo. “I’m going to be honest with you, that shit felt crazy amazing,” he said. “I was shooting that video in front of my building where I grew up. Then, to have Diddy come to the video shoot? We fresh off ‘Shook Ones.’ In a nutshell, that shit was amazing.”