Mobb Deep's 'Juvenile Hell' Issued On Standard & Color Vinyl For 25th Anniversary
Havoc & Prodigy's first album was originally released on April 19, 1993.
You cannot mention rap’s most timeless duos without naming Mobb Deep. Originally named Poetical Prophets, Havoc and Prodigy turned heads in 1991 through The Source magazine's now legendary "Unsigned Hype" column. As a production unit and a rap troupe, the pair displayed know-how and insight well beyond their years, making it easy to forget that both Havoc and Prodigy were in their late teens in 1993 when Juvenile Hell was released. Raw, unrelenting, and overtly-confident, Juvenile Hell was the infant stages of what would be defined as the Queensbridge Sound—grimy street narratives over cold, sonorous production underpinned with bravado and melancholy.
The prodigious pair were keenly aware of their career stage and brought in established producers to help aid the album, namely DJ Premier on the minimal, angst-filled thumper “Peer Pressure” and Large Professor whose remix of said track gave it an extra shot in the arm. The homespun music video was a local TV hit and “Hit It From The Back,” a track produced by Prodigy and Method Max, also charted at No. 18 on the Hot Rap Singles chart in 1993.
Juvenile Hell is an early storyboard depicting two street musicians who worked in tandem to speak their mind and relate their surroundings to the world. Cuts like “Bitch Ass Nigga” is a fearlessly intimidating song aimed at crooked rivals while “Locked In Spofford” is a storytelling track underscored by fleeting violence, isolation, and regret. The project is fleshed out with an intro and three skits containing street noise and chatter that add to its overall atmospheric nature and visceral impact. Juvenile Hell remains is an enduring Queensbridge debut made by young minds in lockstep that proved influential for decades thereafter.