Ranking the Best Mobb Deep Albums

Every so often, Hip-Hop Twitter decides to celebrate the legends of the game. Of course, the usual names are brought up. But with each passing year, those conversations seem to overlook the unsung architects of the game.

We need to show more love to the Infamous.

Havoc and Prodigy are true rap underdogs, grinding from the bottom before getting a cosign from The Source’s Unsigned Hype (sorta like the 90s version of XXL’s Freshman cover, for you young’ns), and evolving into one of the most menacing acts of the 90s. Classic verses from Prodigy and classic production from Havoc soon followed.

Let’s look back at the Mobb’s storied LPs, ranking them from bottom to top. Keep in mind we’re just focusing on studio albums – if I added solo LPs, mixtapes, EPs and compilations we’d be here all day. Rankings are determined by album quality, consistency, and impact.

8. Juvenile Hell (1993)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3 stars out of 5

Edd said: Aww, look at young Hav and P, when they were just baby-faced, sickle-wielding maniacs. The duo’s debut isn’t discussed often and there’s probably a reason for that – they hadn’t quite found their voices yet, literally. Juvenile Hell is pretty generic, with Havoc and Prodigy sounding like every other early 90s NY act. You couldn’t deny their promise, though, and they’d live up to that potential pretty quickly.

Forgotten favorites: “Peer Pressure (Large Professor Remix),” “Stomp Em Out”

7. Infamy (2001)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: Man, y’all were NOT kinda to Hav and P when this one dropped in 2001. I’ve always had a soft spot for it, though – it accompanied me on many a road trip in the early 00s, when I was logging hundreds of miles driving back and forth to Virginia and Louisville, Ky. But nostalgia aside, I’ll readily admit this one is pretty uneven. I’m not as offended as most by their R&B thug routine here (I still think “Anything” is pretty great) but a few lethargic beats and uninspired themes make Infamy one of their weaker offerings.

Forgotten favorites: “Get At Me,” “Pray for Me,” “The Learning”

6. Blood Money (2006)

Soul in Stereo rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: When Mobb Deep announced their partnership with G-Unit in the mid-00s it seemed … weird. The Mobb always felt like lone wolves, it was weird to picture them as 50 Cent’s latest henchmen. But you can’t hate on the commercial results – Blood Money was their final No. 1 album. Critically, though, the results were a bit more mixed. The gritty street cuts and soulful tracks felt like vintage Mobb, but the bouncy club joints, predictably, don’t work nearly as well.

Forgotten favorites: “In Love with the Moulah,” “Stole Something,” “Day Dreamin’”

5. Amerikaz Nightmare (2004)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Much like their previous album Infamy, I clearly remember fans giving this one a lot of grief. But 16 years later, there’s still way more to love here than hate. Mobb Deep toss out the sentimental tracks of Infamy and get back to the block, delivering the bully bars and threatening production that made them a force. Some of the production does get a little repetitive and some tracks just feel out of place (y’all really put Lil Jon on EVERYTHING in 2004) but this one holds up pretty well today.

Forgotten favorites: “Win Or Lose,” “Amerikaz Nightmare,” “One of Ours Part II”

4. The Infamous Mobb Deep (2014)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: I had absolutely no memory of this LP before researching this post but it served as Mobb Deep’s final album before Prodigy’s tragic passing just a couple of years later. Clearly I missed out. After spending the previous few years tinkering with the Mobb Deep formula, and a few internal beefs, Hav and P went all the way back to basics on this one and it works incredibly well. It’s a shame this album is so overlooked – it’s a fitting finale to an incredible 20-year career.

Forgotten favorites: “Taking You Off Here,” “Say Something,” “Timeless”

3. Murda Muzik (1999)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: In terms of quality, Murda Muzik is the lesser of Mobb Deep’s acclaimed 90s trilogy but, make no mistake, it’s still an incredible effort. It’s also their most successful – standing as their sole platinum LP. The only drawback here is the album’s length, which was a necessary evil; new tracks were tacked on after the original version was snatched up by bootleggers. Regardless, Hav and P were in a ZONE here, proving how great QB’s finest were in their prime.

Forgotten favorites: “Where Ya From,” “Spread Love,” “Where Ya Heart At”

2. Hell on Earth (1996)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4 stars out of 5

Edd said: Expectations were insanely high for Mobb Deep after their groundbreaking sophomore album launched them into superstardom. They didn’t flinch at the pressure, instead delivering an album nearly as incredible as its predecessor. Hell on Earth lives up to its name, sounding like a hip-hop dystopia with Havoc and especially Prodigy cutting loose on all their detractors, from 2pac to Keith Murray. Their previous LP turned heads, but Hell on Earth solidified their spots.

Forgotten favorites: “Give It Up Fast,” “More Trife Life,” “Nighttime Vultures”

1. The Infamous (1995)

Soul in Stereo rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Edd said: It’s hard to quantify the importance of The Infamous if you weren’t around to witness the highly competitive 90s rap scene. The West Coast’s G-Funk-fueled sounds dominated the early years of the decade until the gritty street tales of Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan and, yes, Mobb Deep, began to swing the pendulum back in favor of the East. The Infamous is one of the most defining albums of the boom-bap era, with Havoc and Prodigy maturing from promising juveniles to full-fledged leaders. Filled with timeless anthems, instantly recognizable production, vivid storytelling and beloved album cuts, The Infamous was a star-making release. It’s not without flaws – a few tracks get lost among the heavier hitters – but it’s unquestionably one of the most important albums in rap history.

Forgotten favorites: “Eye for an Eye (Your Beef is Mines),” “Right Back At You,” “Cradle to the Grave”

How would you rank Mobb Deep’s LPs? Share your lists below.

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2 Comments

  1. When you click on read our review for The Infamous, what pops up is Lisa left eye’s 2009 album 😂

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