N.O.R.E. & Havoc Have An Intense Conversation About The C-N-N/Mobb Deep Beef (Video)
More than 20 years ago, Capone-N-Noreaga made their breakthrough care of 25 To Life’s “L.A., L.A.” The Marley Marl-produced single featured Tragedy Khadafi and Mobb Deep. The remixed song, eventually packaged on 1997’s The War Report debut from C-N-N, was a reply to Tha Dogg Pound and Snoop Dogg’s 1995 single, “New York, New York.” The record would be included in the annals of the East Coast and West Coast beef of the mid-1990s.
While Snoop and Tha Dogg Pound have since forged bonds with Capone-N-Noreaga and Mobb Deep, respectively, many have questioned the relationship between the two Queens, New York Hip-Hop duos. Havoc rapped and co-produced C-N-N’s first single, 1996’s “Illegal Life.” Mobb Deep appeared on the first three Capone-N-Noreaga albums, as N.O.R.E. was featured on Prodigy’s gold-certified solo debut, H.N.I.C.
In a summer 2016 Drink Champs Podcast recently released to full video interview, N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN welcomed Havoc as a guest. Promoting his The Silent Partner album with Alchemist, N.O.R.E. and Havoc retraced their overlapping Queens roots. Noreaga points out that his band-mate, Capone is from 12th Street in Queensbridge. While N.O.R.E. hails from Lefrak City, that’s a part of the borough that Prodigy had close ties to.
“When I first met N.O.R.E., and [he] started hanging around and stuff, it was almost like he was from there. Like, for real! He just came, he fit in,” Havoc says. N.O.R.E. recalls being locked up with Infamous Mobb member Big Twins (fka Twin Gambino). That led him to start hanging out in the same public houses responsible for Nas, Cormega, Lakey Da Kid, and others.
At (22:00), N.O.R.E. and Havoc take on rumors of a beef head-on. N.O.R.E. begins by contextualizing the closeness between the longtime collaborators. “What a lot of people don’t know, before [My Infamous Life: The Autobiography of Mobb Deep’s Prodigy] book was written, you came out and hung with me in Miami. We were [cool]. Everything was cool. This email came out; it was a show that happened in Orlando. My DJ, Butch Rock, the promoter hit him…he booked us, I guess he sent y’all half, and he was sendin’ us half. Then this email comes out that says Mobb Deep didn’t want to do a show if C-N-N is in the building.” Havoc stops Noreaga. “Okay. Do you believe that?” The former Roc-A-Fella Records artist replies, “Yeah, I do believe that.”
Speaking about this late 2000s, early 2010s email, Havoc confirms, “I kinda heard about that.” N.O.R.E. uses the real first names of Mobb Deep and C-N-N to touch upon how far back these four individuals go. “I didn’t see the email. But I heard about the situation. I was like, ‘Yo, what the fuck. N.O.R.E. and them not comin’?’ But a lot of times certain shit be outta my hands. I don’t give a fuck, ’cause if you pay me, I’m gonna be at the show with whoever. I don’t care who’s even fuckin’ there.” N.O.R.E. jumps back in, “I really respect that, and I just want people to know: for people who think there’s a Mobb Deep [vs.] Capone-N-Noreaga beef, there is not. There was [friction] back then.” Havoc agrees. “But to keep it real, all families and crews have a lil’ friction going on or whatever, but it’s nothing that can’t get fixed.”
N.O.R.E. again praises his former collaborator. “I ain’t gonna lie, I’m mad impressed that he came.” “Capone is not gonna do nothin’; I’m not the boss of Capone, but [his beef with Prodigy] is over. Let’s put that shit to the side, and let’s start over.”
In 2011, Prodigy released the aforementioned My Infamous Life, his memoir authored with Laura Checkoway. As published by MTV, the text contained an account of a circa 1996-1997 altercation between Havoc and Tragedy, that involved Capone-N-Noreaga over a woman. The account details Havoc punching Tragedy, and throwing The Intelligent Hoodlum to the ground in the Queensbridge Houses. Prodigy detailed N.O.R.E. as being concerned about his own safety through the assault. In response, Noreaga drew a gun, fired it, and struck a member of Mobb Deep’s entourage in the leg. In response, outside of a Queens club, Prodigy detailed that members of Infamous Mobb (including Big Twins) beat up and robbed N.O.R.E. with Capone and Tragedy Khadafi watching. Moments later, according to Prodigy, the Capone-N-Noreaga entourage approached Mobb Deep and Infamous Mobb’s parked SUVs and opened fire on the vehicles. As the Mobb Deep co-founder told it, not even the vehicles were struck. N.O.R.E. would tell MTV otherwise at the time, refuting the reports that his jewelry was stolen. Noreaga also condemned Prodigy for detailing an incident that left Ty Nitty shot in the back.
Notably, according to N.O.R.E., these fights and shootings took place years before many musical collaborations (including 2000’s Prodigy song “What U Rep” featuring N.O.R.E.) took place.
Five years since it hit shelves, N.O.R.E. addressed the book published by Simon & Shuster. “Me and P hung out so much, so the book threw me off. I’ma be honest; this is me, my point of view.” Havoc interjects, “I didn’t read the book.” N.O.R.E. continues, “The book comes out, I took it as just a lil’ disrespect, because I felt like I would never speak about [the shooting]. I would never talk reckless about that situation. I didn’t shoot at you, Hav’. That day, I shot around you. Did you think I shot at you that day?.” Noreaga asks Havoc, who replies, “I was in the studio.” N.O.R.E. disagrees. “No, you was there. [Laughing]” The Drink Champs host clarifies, “No. I would purposely never shoot at Havoc or Prodigy, my word. But I was shooting at other niggas; they jumped me at the [club in Queens]. But I never spoke about it; I never got money off of it. So for [Prodigy] to put in the book. At the end of the day, if you throw my name in the air, the thing about it is, it’s gonna go up. But you can’t control where it lands. You might throw it up and want to catch it. At that time, I was sittin’ back and was like, ‘Nah. Nah! I’m not lettin’ this go.’ I’ma tell my side of the story. Shit. Do you think I took it too far when I was going at him?” Upon the book’s publication, N.O.R.E. spoke against Prodigy, and revealed that Loud Records demanded Prodigy’s verse from “L.A., L.A.” be removed. Furthermore, Noreaga accused Prodigy of not wanting to diss Tupac Shakur. “I mean, you’re your own man. You gotta do what you gotta do.” Prodigy responded, accusing Capone of snitching on Havoc’s brother. ‘Pone then angrily responded to Prodigy, adding to the 2011 tensions.
“When all that shit was goin’ down, all that crazy shit…come on, man, all that shit was what, 20 years ago?,” N.O.R.E. tells Havoc in 2016. “I would never disrespect people like Karate Joe or Ty Nitty, that’s why I would never make a rap about that. You know what I’m saying?” Noreaga went back to being upset at the accounts in the published text. “If you use my name, I got a choice to like it or not like it. So I chose to not like it. But it was all in jokes, all in fun. I’m glad that you came here. You know what, outta Capone-N-Noreaga and outta Mobb Deep, I’m gonna call you the bravest one to come forward, and put this rumor to mothafucking rest.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Havoc explains the clicking noises used on Mobb Deep’s 1995 hit “Shook Ones, Pt. II.” The MC/producer revealed that the effects in the beloved song he produced are actually recorded from the burner lighter of his project stove appliance. “Right before you light [the stove], before it comes on and all of that, [it makes that noise],” explains Havoc. At the time around 1994, the budding producer was hungry for a hit. “I was just in the fuckin’ projects, broke as fuck. It was on some, ‘Yo, I just gotta make some shit.’ That stove inspired me. I was like, ‘Let me throw this into the beat.'”
Speaking with N.O.R.E. and EFN, Havoc refers to Mobb Deep’s 1993 debut, Juvenile Hell as a “miscarriage.” Famously, after that album, which featured production from DJ Premier and Large Professor, Havoc focused on self-producing Mobb Deep albums. The Queens native revealed that it was a beat quote that led him down this path. “I love this guy to death, but Pete Rock asked us for like $25,000 [for a beat]. Our budget was like $60,000. [When] he asked us for $25,000, I was like, ‘Fuck it, I’ma make my own beats.'” Mobb Deep and Pete Rock would later be label-mates at Loud Records, with Hav’ and Pete both releasing solo projects at Nature Sounds in the 2000s. “That’s how it started.”
The Silent Partner, produced entirely Alchemist, features Method Man, Prodigy, and Cormega.