Their debut record, Juvenile Hell was a first look, a glimpse into the rough cut lives of two wordsmiths behind raw, but movement-inducing instrumentals with a large focus on sampled funk and early jazz. Through the opening tracks of “Me & My Crew”, “Locked In Spofford”, and “Hold Down The Fort”, Prodigy and Havoc are a wrecking crew of a bleak future for hip-hop that included lyrical themes of despair, violence, and a hellish lifestyle of institutions. Especially prevalent in their lyrical approach, Havoc begins on the track, “Peer Pressure”, that he is, “A young black teen, everyday I, deal with the pressure and mixed up is how I feel. I walk the streets with a fuck you attitude and when it comes to my peoples, you ain’t half as rude”. Havoc and Prodigy are standoffish, but are relatable characters through their music and even as they lived much different lives; their message of being your own boss is still influential to other rhymers of today. It is instantly apparent that Mobb Deep has no compassion for those that stand opposing to them, they are ready to stomp the competition and clearly from the track, “Bitch Ass Nigga”, Mobb Deep is not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Havoc explains, “You couldn’t kill me because I can’t kill myself, and if I got beef then I got it for self. And if I catch a body, I catch it for self, to me murder is good for the health… So what you wanna do punk, back up a little. Gimme some space, I’m getting hearts, street sweeper”. It is a relation to the rhyme schemes and the lyrical ability where Mobb Deep is a shining example of teen anger and Hip-Hop class acts. Hip-Hop as a genre has deep roots connected to Mobb Deep and there can not be a discussion about classic Hip-Hop without mentioning Prodigy or Havoc. The two Queensbridge Destroyers were a dangerous group both on and off the microphone; Mobb Deep is a pivotal group that stands out in history as being able to shake a room with their sharp rhymes, or keep a room bouncing with their boom-bap production. It was a dualistic time in Mobb Deep’s career where their debut needed to be authentic to their own style, but also be able to become relatable to the audience in a similar manner. Mobb Deep captures that spirit of Hip-Hop and their later track, “Stomp Em Out” is a prime example of how the production lures in listeners with the bass-heavy, horns and jazz styled drums that let both Prodigy and Havoc annihilate. The beat is able to be danced to and something that a person’s mother can enjoy, but the hardcore lyrics are the bread and butter of Mobb Deep that makes the listener really stay and start to analyze what Mobb Deep is.
Juvenile Hell is a constant work of art that shifts and twists with each incoming track, the final moments with “Peer Pressure (The Large Professor Remix)”, “Project Hallways”, and “Flavor For The Non-Believes”, is a monumental send off that can be released as a separate EP of itself. The reworking of “Peer Pressure” gives an entirely different feel as the rising horn that becomes a blaring method and the seguing techniques of “Project Hallways” is engaging. As Mobb Deep moves toward the last moments of Juvenile Hell, there is a live feeling behind their music, sending the tracks off in an up-beat style. There is not a moment where Mobb Deep lets the emotion fall to a dragging level of momentum, there is always some sort of movement going on while Prodigy and Havoc wreck the microphone. Even as the final dust settles on “Flavor For The Non-Believes”, there is still a focus on sending the beat into a quick, boom-bap style of bon voyage.
The dynamite duo moves well together and while Juvenile Hell is not their best project. It is indeed a perfect place to start as it proves that Mobb Deep only improved with their later projects, the incredible re-workings of their styles and movements led them to where they are today. The superstars of rhymes are a rare breed, one that will always last and always be prevalent in history. The entertainers of the masses, the stepping-stones of generations, the Queensbridge poets of Mobb Deep.