The Infamous (stylized as The Infamous...) is the second studio album by the American hip hop duo Mobb Deep. It was released on April 25, 1995, by Loud Records. The album features guest appearances by Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, and Q-Tip, who also contributed to its production and mixing. Embedded with hyper-visual lyricism, dark soundscapes, gritty narratives, and hard beats, it marked Mobb Deep's transition from a relatively unknown rap duo to an influential and commercially successful one.[not verified in body] Most of the left-over songs from the album became bonus tracks for Mobb Deep's The Infamous Mobb Deep album (2014).

The Infamous
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 25, 1995
StudioBattery Studios, Platinum Island Studios, Firehouse Studios, and Unique Recording in New York, NY
Mobb Deep chronology
Juvenile Hell
The Infamous
Hell on Earth
Singles from The Infamous
  1. "Shook Ones Pt. II"
    Released: February 3, 1995
  2. "Survival of the Fittest"
    Released: May 29, 1995
  3. "Temperature's Rising"
    Released: September 18, 1995
  4. "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)"
    Released: January 22, 1996

Upon its release, The Infamous achieved notable commercial success, debuting at number 15 on the US Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums charts. On June 26, 1995, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[2] The album produced four singles; "Shook Ones Pt. II", "Survival of the Fittest", "Temperature's Rising", "Give Up the Goods (Just Step)", which all achieved varying degrees of chart success, with "Shook Ones Pt. II" being the most successful.

The album's haunting style, defined by its evocative melodies, rugged beats, and lyrics dealing with crime and poverty in inner city neighborhoods reflected the dark side of New York's urban landscape in a manner that received special recognition and critical praise. Along with albums such as Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Illmatic and Ready to Die, The Infamous is widely credited as a major contributor to the East Coast Renaissance. Furthermore, the album is credited with helping to redefine the sound of hardcore hip-hop, using its production style, which incorporated eerie piano loops, distorted synthesizers, eighth-note hi-hats, and sparse bass lines.


During the spring of 1993, while the group was still in their late-teens, Mobb Deep released their first album Juvenile Hell under the 4th & B'way Records label. The album included production from several revered New York based producers, including Large Professor, DJ Premier, and Public Enemy affiliate Kerwin Young, and included the underground single "Hit It from the Back". Due to Juvenile Hell's failure to achieve significant commercial and critical success, the duo was dropped from their label several months after the album's release.[3] Havoc and Prodigy later described Juvenile Hell as a "learning experience".[3]

During the summer of 1993, Loud Records was looking for another group to sign, owing to the success of Wu-Tang Clan's first single, "Protect Ya Neck", and by fall 1993, the label had signed Mobb Deep.[3] Recording for the album began in early 1994, and ended almost one year later in early 1995. Unlike the duo's first album, The Infamous was almost entirely self-produced by Havoc and Prodigy, with outside help from Matt Life, Schott Free and Q-Tip (credited as the Abstract). Producer Matt Life later recalled Q-Tip's involvements, stating, "Tip was very involved in The Infamous from early on. Probably more than people know. Tip was just a fan of theirs and I knew him from way back, so he was really helpful, giving them advice. Then he came in later in the sessions and said he'd help mix a couple records. And then he ended up picking a couple of records they did to re-do. Except for "Drink Away the Pain", the songs that Tip produced were already a full song before he got to them. He liked the lyrics on those original songs, but he re-did the beats. It was the same song title, same hook, same rhymes, just new beats."[4] Havoc later commented "Q-Tip definitely bent his style a little bit to get with what we was doing. Like with "Drink Away the Pain" you see him trying to get gangsta with it."[5]

On the group's decision to handle most of the production, Havoc later commented, "We started producing because other producers was giving us shit that we didn't like, or they was just charging too much. I didn't know nothing about producing music at the time, but I learned by watching others."[6] The style of production on The Infamous was part of a change in New York City hip-hop from upbeat and jazz-influenced, into raw, gritty beats. This style of production, often characterized by dissonant, minor key samples and heavily filtered bass lines became a hallmark of mid-1990s New York rap.

Cover artworkEdit

The cover art for The Infamous was created in Queensbridge Houses, New York by photographer Delphine A. Fawundu, who later commented about the photography session in Vikki Tobak's 2018 analog hip hop photography collective Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop (published by Clarkson Potter), "I was inspired by how all these elements came together, making New York hip-hop such a force at that time. It just felt so powerful and it was all happening right before my eyes, and my camera". In 2019, images from Fawundu's photoshoot with Mobb Deep and the previously unseen contact prints were featured in a full-size museum exhibit at The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles.[7][8]


Commercial performanceEdit

The album spent 18 weeks on the US Billboard 200 for peaking at number 15, and it also spent 34 weeks on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts for peaking at number 3. The Infamous was certified gold, with shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on June 26, 1995.[2]

Initial reactionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [1]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [9]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[10]
Los Angeles Times    [11]
Rolling Stone     [14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [15]
The Source4.5/5[16]

Upon its release, The Infamous received widespread critical acclaim. Entertainment Weekly's Tiarra Mukherjee gave it a B+ rating, stating, "Over mostly self-produced, bare-bones beats, the pair's hard-edged rhymes paint a chilling picture of life on their mean streets, New York City's Queensbridge Housing Projects. Underground rap-heads, and those who can break away from Jeep beats will rejoice."[10] The Source's Dimitry Leger stated, "Mobb Deep earn credibility, winning the crucial battle between style and substance, who's real and who's a move-faker. Havoc and Prodigy simply report what they know."[16]

Elliott Wilson from Vibe wrote a favorable review of the album as well, and stated "Each song is a different chapter in the hard street life Havoc and Prodigy have experienced in their Queensbridge neighborhood ... While describing their lives with brutal realism and raw imagery, Havoc's love for his hometown hits you in the head like a Mike Tyson comeback punch."[18] NME gave the album an eight out of ten rating, noting its "Shuttering nitro beats and scratchy jazz samples (that) cut back to reverberating piano chords and odd squealing horn breaks", also stating, "As rappers they bring the clipped, rolling style of Rakim or EPMD, adding a chill menace to neighborhood boasts like 'Right Back at You' and 'Eye for a Eye'."[12] Rolling Stone called it "a darkly nihilistic masterpiece".[14]


Since its initial release, The Infamous has earned additional critical praise and has been widely regarded as a cornerstone album of New York hardcore rap.[1] Allmusic's Steve Huey gave it a five star rating, and commented "The Infamous is Mobb Deep's masterpiece, a relentlessly bleak song cycle that's been hailed by hardcore rap fans as one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever recorded [...] it has all the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama. That's partly because of the cinematic vision behind the duo's detailed narratives, but it's also a tribute to how well the raw, grimy production evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting." Huey further stated:

This is hard, underground hip-hop that demands to be met on its own terms, with few melodic hooks to draw the listener in. Similarly, there's little pleasure or relief offered in the picture of the streets Mobb Deep paints here: They inhabit a war zone where crime and paranoia hang constantly in the air. Gangs are bound together by a code of fierce loyalty, relying wholly on one another for survival in a hopeless environment. Hostile forces – cops, rivals, neighborhood snitches are potentially everywhere, and one slip around the wrong person can mean prison or death.

— Steve Huey[1]

In 2004, The Source re-rated the album to the perfect five "mics" and stated "Prodigy's thugged-out entertainment and Havoc's sonic production on cuts like the bone-chilling 'Shook Ones Pt. ll'  ... proved to be timeless street joints in the same vein as 'Life's a Bitch' and 'You Gots to Chill.' The album was a staple for all hardheaded delinquents comin' up in the game."[19] Rolling Stone also re-rated the album in 2004 to a maximum five, while calling The Infamous "one of the greatest rap albums of the [1990s]".[15] Similar to The Source, XXL magazine gave it a classic rating of "XXL" in its retrospective 2007 issue.[20]

Track listingEdit

1."The Start of Your Ending (41st Side)"Albert Johnson, Kejuan MuchitaMobb Deep4:24
2."The Infamous Prelude"  2:12
3."Survival of the Fittest"Johnson, MuchitaMobb Deep3:43
4."Eye for a Eye (Your Beef Is Mines)" (featuring Nas and Raekwon)Johnson, Muchita, Nasir Jones, Corey WoodsMobb Deep4:48
5."Just Step Prelude"Johnson, TaJuan Perry 1:06
6."Give Up the Goods (Just Step)" (featuring Big Noyd)Johnson, Muchita, Jonathan Davis, Perry, Mayfield Small, Jr.The Abstract4:02
7."Temperature's Rising" (featuring Crystal Johnson)Johnson, Muchita, Davis, Patrice Rushen, Freddie WashingtonThe Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.)5:00
8."Up North Trip"Johnson, MuchitaMobb Deep4:58
9."Trife Life"Johnson, Muchita, Michael HendersonMobb Deep5:19
10."Q.U. – Hectic"Johnson, MuchitaMobb Deep4:46
11."Right Back at You" (featuring Ghostface Killah, Raekwon and Big Noyd)Johnson, Muchita, Dennis Coles, Woods, PerryMobb Deep, Schott Free (co.)4:52
12."The Grave Prelude"  0:50
13."Cradle to the Grave"Johnson, MuchitaMobb Deep4:57
14."Drink Away the Pain (Situations)" (featuring Q-Tip)Johnson, Muchita, Davis, The HeadhuntersThe Abstract, Mobb Deep (co.)4:44
15."Shook Ones (Part II)"Johnson, MuchitaMobb Deep5:24
16."Party Over" (featuring Big Noyd)Johnson, Muchita, PerryMobb Deep, Matt Life (co.)5:40
  • "Up North Trip" is omitted from cassette versions.
Sample credits
[21] [22]
  • "The Start of Your Ending" contains a sample from "Maybe Tomorrow" performed by Grant Green.
  • "Survival of the Fittest" contains a sample from "Skylark" performed by The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn.
  • "Eye for a Eye" contains a sample from "I Wish You Were Here" performed by Al Green.
  • "Give Up the Goods" contains a sample from "That's All Right With Me" performed by Esther Phillips.
  • "Temperature's Rising" contains samples from "UFO" performed by ESG, "Where There Is Love" performed by Patrice Rushen, and an interpolation of "Body Heat" performed by Quincy Jones.
  • "Up North Trip" contains samples from "To Be With You"performed by The Fatback Band, and "I'm Tired Of Giving" performed by The Spinners.
  • "Trife Life" contains a sample from "You Are My Starship" performed by Norman Connors.
  • "Q.U.-Hectic" contains samples from "Kitty With the Bent Frame" performed by Quincy Jones, and "Black Frost" performed by Grover Washington Jr.
  • "Right Back at You" contains a sample from "Benjamin" performed by Les McCann.
  • "Cradle to the Grave" contains a sample from "And If I Had" performed by Teddy Pendergrass.
  • "Drink Away the Pain" contains a sample from "I Remember I Made You Cry" performed by The Headhunters and "Fly, Fly, the Route, Shoot" performed by If.
  • "Shook Ones Pt. II" contains samples from "Dirty Feet" performed by Daly Wilson Big Band, "Jessica" performed by Herbie Hancock, and "Kitty With The Bent Frame" performed by Quincy Jones.
  • "Party Over" contains samples from "Lonely Fire" performed by Miles Davis, and "Outside Love" performed by Brethren.




Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[28] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  • Information regarding accolades is extracted from,[29] except for lists with additional sources.
  • An asterisk (*) indicates unordered lists.
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums[30] 2008 74
Best Rap Albums of 1995[31] 2008 4
Blender 500 CDs You Must Own Before You Die 2003 *
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 *
Vibe 51 Albums representing a Generation, a Sound and a Movement 2004 *
Hip Hop Connection United Kingdom The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995–2005 2005 4
Melody Maker Albums of the Year 1995 28
Pop Sweden Albums of the Year 1995 11
OOR Netherlands Albums of the Year 1995 43
Spex Germany Albums of the Year 1995 13


  1. ^ a b c d Huey, Steve. "The Infamous – Mobb Deep". AllMusic. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Gold and Platinum Database Search at". Archived from the original on December 21, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:267
  4. ^ Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:269.
  5. ^ Coleman, Brian 2007. P:272.
  6. ^ Coleman, Brian, 2007. P:266
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 1468. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  10. ^ a b Mukherjee, Tiarra (May 5, 1995). "The Infamous". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
  11. ^ Siegmund, Heidi (May 14, 1995). "Mobb Deep, 'The Infamous,' RCA". Los Angeles Times. p. 68. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Mobb Deep: The Infamous". NME: 48. July 1, 1995.
  13. ^ Greene, Jayson (April 9, 2014). "Mobb Deep: The Infamous / The Infamous Mobb Deep". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Coker, Cheo H. (November 16, 1995). "Mobb Deep: The Infamous". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  15. ^ a b Ryan, Chris (2004). "Mobb Deep". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 548. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  16. ^ a b Leger, Dimitry (June 1995). "Mobb Deep: The Infamous". The Source (69): 71. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  17. ^ Norris, Chris (August 1995). "Mobb Deep: The Infamous". Spin. 11 (5): 92. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  18. ^ Wilson, Elliott. The Infamous. Vibe. Retrieved on 2010-03-19.
  19. ^ Columnist. Re-Rated Albums. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-03-19.
  20. ^ XXL (December 2007). "Retrospective: XXL Albums". XXL Magazine.
  21. ^ Davis, Luke (November 15, 2013). "Mobb Deep – The Infamous (Sample Set)". Sampleface. Retrieved September 2, 2016.
  22. ^ "Q.U -Hectic by Mobb Deep". WhoSampled. June 4, 2018. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  23. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: M – My Vitriol". Tobias Zywietz. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  24. ^ "Mobb Deep Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  25. ^ "Mobb Deep Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard.
  26. ^ "1995 Year-End Charts – Billboard 200 Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  27. ^ "1995 Year-End Charts – Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums". Billboard. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  28. ^ "American album certifications – Mobb Deep – The Infamous". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  29. ^ "The Infamous at". Retrieved December 31, 2006.
  30. ^ Adaso, Henry.'s 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  31. ^ Adaso, Henry. Best Rap Albums of 1995. Retrieved 2010-05-10.

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit