Tag Archives: Most Perfect Rap Song Ever Written

Most Perfect Rap Song Ever Written: Shook Ones, Part II

30 May

I was well into my thirties before I saw the infamous rap battle from 8 Mile and I’ve probably watched hundreds of NBA games before I recognized the beat that arenas were blasting on the PA’s. So where was I the first time I’d heard Shook Ones, Part II? Honestly, I have no idea. But I do distinctly remember the exact moment that I realized that Shook Ones Part, II was quite possibly the most perfect rap song ever written.

My relationship to Mobb Deep’s music is analogous to going to high school with someone you knew of in high school, but didn’t start hanging out with until realizing you were classmates on the first day of community college. The first time I’d even heard of Mobb Deep was 2Pac’s dissed em on “Hit Em Up.” Other than Nas and Wu-Tang Clan, I wasn’t messing with too many east coast artists. My music tastes emulated my older cousins’ who were listening to west coast rappers like Ice T, N.W.A., Too Short, and we of course supported all the down south rappers that were popping at the time.

I could lie and I say that I loved Notorious B.I.G. but, Puff Daddy’s presence made anyone from the Bad Boy camp suspect to me—I wasn’t feeling Biggie until well after he died. I got into Mobb Deep much much later, but the first song and video of theirs to make an impression on me was the late 90’s single from the “Murda Musik” album, Quiet Storm. It would take a few more years and multiple visits to New York City for me to actively study east coast rap, but when I finally listened to The Infamous, (and subsequently Shook Ones) I got it.

 

One of the first things that jump out at me is that Mobb Deep was only 19 when they made this album. This blows my mind. I too wrote raps when I was 19, and the nicest bars I ever wrote were:

 

I’m not a genie/ I can’t grant you 3 wishes/ but rub my lamp hard enough/

And I’ll grant  you 9 inches

~Polished Skillz

 

Pretty deep huh?

 

Hip Hop has always been a product of its environment and in the 1990’s, New York had taken a turn for the darker. The music reflected this turn, as gritty acts like Wu-Tang, Biggie, Jay-Z, Mobb Deep, represented a side of New York that you couldn’t find on Times Square. Acts like Big Pun , Boot Camp Click. Black Moon, Heltah Skeltah, Capone N Noreaga, Nas (at least his first 2 albums) epitomized the mid 90’s sound that we associate with New York. New York City to country bumpkins like myself  was a place where you only went to get mugged, stabbed, shot, or freeze to death. The grim perspective in Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones does nothing to dispel those early teenage myths that I once held.

The lyrics in this song are some of the starkest ever put to paper, giving us a peek into the realities that most Queensbridge youth faced on a daily basis (former NBA stars Ron Artest, Elton Brand and Lamar Odom all hail from Queens and have their own stories to tell from this time period).

As a high school teacher, I’ve occasionally sat a young teen down and forced him to digest the lyrics for Shook Ones–just to give them some perspective. The song’s hook  is a warning to any phony gangsters, wanna be ballers, and fake tough guys. The first verse by Prodigy is one of the nicest bars ever put to wax.

 

 

 

 

I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous

you heard of us

official Queensbridge murderers

the Mobb comes equipped with warfare, beware

of my crime family who got nuff shots to share

for all of those who wanna profile and pose

rock you in your face, stab your brain wit’ your nosebone

you all alone in these streets, cousin

every man for theirself in this land we be gunnin’

and keep them shook crews runnin’

like they supposed to

they come around but they never come close to

I can see it inside your face

you’re in the wrong place

cowards like you just get they’re whole body laced up

with bullet holes and such

speak the wrong words man and you will get touched

you can put your whole army against my team and

I guarantee you it’ll be your very last time breathin’

your simple words just don’t move me

you’re minor, we’re major

you all up in the game and don’t deserve to be a player

don’t make me have to call your name out

your crew is featherweight

my gunshots’ll make you levitate

I’m only nineteen but my mind is old

and when the things get for real my warm heart turns cold

another nigga deceased, another story gets told

it ain’t nothin’ really

hey, yo dun spark the Phillie

so I can get my mind off these yellowbacked niggas

why they still alive I don’t know, go figure

meanwhile back in Queens the realness is foundation

if I die I couldn’t choose a better location

when the slugs penetrate you feel a burning sensation

getting closer to God in a tight situation

now, take these words home and think it through

or the next rhyme I write might be about you

 

[Chorus:]

Son, they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death, scared to look

they shook

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death, scared to look

 

livin’ the live that of diamonds and guns

there’s numerous ways you can choose to earn funds…earn funds

some of ’em get shot, locked down and turn nuns

cowardly hearts end straight up shook ones…shook ones

he ain’t a crook son, he’s just a shook one…shook one

 

[Havoc]

For every rhyme I write, its 25 to life

yo, it’s a must the gats we trust safeguardin’ my life

ain’t no time for hesitation

that only leads to incarceration

you don’t know me, there’s no relation

Queensbridge niggas don’t play

I don’t got time for your petty thinking mind

son, I’m bigga than those claimin’ that you pack heat

but you’re scared to hold

and when the smoke clears you’ll be left with one in your dome

13 years in the projects, my mentality is what, kid

you talk a good one but you don’t want it

sometimes I wonder do I deserve to live

or am I going to burn in hell for all the things I did

no time to dwell on that ’cause my brain reacts

front if you want kid, lay on your back

I don’t fake jacks kid, you know I bring it to you live

stay in a child’s place, kid you out o’ line

criminal minds thirsty for recognition

I’m sippin’ E&J, got my mind flippin’

I’m buggin’ think I’m how bizar to hold my hustlin’

get that loot kid, you know my function

cause long as I’m alive I’ma live illegal

and once I get on I’ma put on, on my people

react mix to lyrics like Macs I hit your dome up

when I roll up, don’t be caught sleepin’

cause I’m creepin’

 

[Chorus:]

 

Son, they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

(he’s just a shook one)

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

(we live the live that of diamonds)

 

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks

scared to death and scared to look

they shook…

’cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks, crooks..

 

livin’ the live that of diamonds and guns

there’s numerous ways you can choose to earn funds…earn funds

but some of ’em get shot, locked down and turn nuns

cowardly hearts end straight up shook ones…shook ones

he ain’t a crook son, he’s just a shook one…shook one

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah

To all the villains and a hundred dollar billas

To real brothers who ain’t got no dealings

G-yeah, the whole Bridge, Queens get the money

41st side (he’s just a shook one)

keepin’ it real (you know)

Queens get the money…

 

There is a hunger that comes through in their lyrics, overlaying one of the most sinister, nastier beats to come out of that era. Havoc and Prodigy created a ubiquitous masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Not only is it one of most perfect rap songs ever written, it just so happens to be one of the realest.

 

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com.