As a young teen, I was deeply engrossed in the Kriss Kross, Da Youngsta’s and Born Jamerican era of teenage Hip Hop but I also had a taste for hardcore gangsta rap. I became a fan of Mobb Deep in 1995 when my homie Peter Lebbi played their “Juvenile Hell” album for me. The album was fascinating to me because they were young teenagers, like myself, spitting that ol’ gangsta shit. My favorite song was “Me & My Crew.” Since then, I’ve rocked every Mobb Deep album with my favorites being “Hell on Earth” and “Murda Musik.” Between 1990 and 1993, I was a Naughty By Nature Stan. My homie was a Special Ed-Stan. People called me Treach because I lip synced many of Naughty By Nature’s rhymes.
When I switched to Tupac in 1995, I lip synced his verses, and those same people started calling me Tupac. They called Peter, Special P or P for short. I was Freddy Will, but they called me by my favorite emcee’s nickname. At that time they were either Treach or Tupac. Back then, outsiders portrayed Hip Hop as a joke. Considered the Golden Age of Hip Hop, MC Lyte, Dr. Dre, L. L. Cool J, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Da Brat, Wu-Tang Clan, Coolio, Tha Luniz, Scarface, The Notorious Big, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Nas were the top artists in mainstream Hip Hop in 1995.
That decade saw droves of rappers and emcees step to the mic to deliver some dope rhymes. Some of those lyricists were so talented, their lyrics became scripts for us as we pondered on the themes of love, wealth, and spirituality. Our generation dealt with drug trafficking, homicide, poverty, one parent homes, homelessness, neglect, racism and police brutality. We got into the cinema and theater with poetry, art, and fashion.
During this era when hundreds of emcees came to tell our grim stories of a ghetto, hood, project, or street struggles, Mobb Deep returned with, “The Infamous…” This album gave us timeless anthems like “Start of Ya Ending” “Shook Ones Pt. II” and “Survival of the Fittest” among other hits. Mobb Deep rose to 5 best emcees status. Unfortunately, there was a coast to coast beef between the east and west. A publicized Tupac shooting took place in New York City. Death Row Records CEO, Suge Knight bailed Tupac out of jail and signed him to the record label.
Fresh out of jail, and out on bail, with The Notorious B. I. G. and Bad Boy Records topping the charts. Tupac blamed them for his previous shooting and dragged Jay-Z, Lil, Kim, Nas and Mobb Deep into the beef. Tragically, someone killed Shakur in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting. Months later, the legendary master of ceremonies, The Notorious BIG was murdered in Los Angeles. During this sad time in Hip Hop, Mobb Deep won the hearts of many with their “Hell on Earth” album. By the time they released “Murda Musik,” the duo had elevated to a god-like status in Hip Hop. Some say they’re a centerpiece of our Kulture. Others say they’re the Kulture. Mobb Deep defined the sound of east coast rap.*