Next Tuesday, the world will be gifted with a new Mobb Deep album, and if you aren’t excited for the updated material on The Infamous Mobb Deep, you should be amped for the second disc, The 1994 Infamous Sessions, featuring unreleased, mastered demos from their sophomore album.
It was around the time of Infamous that Prodigy became known as one of the illest MCs to walk the planet. From ’94 through the new millennium, many considered Prodigy to be the greatest rapper alive, bar none. Jay Z even said so after his beef with Prodigy quieted down. The Prodigy that we know now isn’t quite the same guy, what with (rap) battle scars, health scares and prison time entering and exiting the picture.
But as fans look forward to new M.O.B.B. material, we went back and dug up Prodigy’s 20 best guest verses.
It’s the real….
20. Dilated Peoples. “Thieves” (2003)
In the early aughts, it was hard to be impressed by Prodigy. He had one of the greatest runs ever from Infamous to Murda Muzik, but the fall off was apparent. Still, when he likens the broken hearts of women to dudes getting robbed, you can tell he still has a unique way of seeing things. “Respect My Gangster” is another exclusive that Alchemist dropped with Prodigy on the Insomnia mixtape from the same year.
19. Bars-N-Hooks, “Mind Blowing” (2001)
Bars-N-Hooks were an fledgling Queens duo comprised of Mike Delorean and Bars. They had a bunch of songs with Prodigy at the turn of the millennium on mixtapes like The Next Generation Vol. 2, but in 2001 they released a single with two freestyles featuring Prodigy—one over Sugar Hill Gang’s “The Message” and one over The Gap Band’s “Outstanding.” Needless to say, this is some shit to get high to.
18. Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap, “QBG” feat. Kool G Rap (1999)
P breaks the life of crime down to its uncomfortable elements—“Dead man tell no tales/ And if you think a nigga gon’ squeal, put up his bail/And twist that nigga when he touch down.” Sounds straight out of a mafia movie.
17. KRS-One, “5 Boroughs” feat. Vigilante, Buckshot, Cam’ron, Keith Murray, Killah Priest & Redman (1998)
The original version of KRS-One’s “5 Boroughs” features a slew of dope MCs, and while the best verse is probably between Cam and Redman, P comes nice as he describes QB—“We one big borough with dons with firearms.”
16. Kool G Rap, “Where Are You” (2002)
First appearing on DJ Clue’s Stadium Series Pt. 3 mixtape, this was originally the final track on the rare advance copy of The Giancana Story. The final version moved this song to track three, but other songs were cut, such as the classic “Holler Back” with Nas and AZ.
15. Littles, “Are You My Nigga” (2004)
This sounds like it was recorded before 2000, judging by P’s delivery. He has the right rhythm to his speech, not that stagnated stuff that came later.
Alchemist once said that Prodigy tried to write verses for him and Alc couldn’t figure out the way to say them. That’s how he knew Prodigy was special. Makes sense when you listen to this. Also peep the freestyle these two did over ‘Whose World Is This’ where P goes at Jay.
14. Easy Mo Bee, “We Pledge Allegiance” feat. Cocoa Brovaz (2000)
At the tail end of his peak, P sounds like a battered war veteran who’s seen too much senseless death, yet still clings to crime as a way of life.
13. Cam’ron, “Losin’ Weight” (2000)
One of the best odes to dealing drugs ever made. Cam wanted listeners to taste the streets, so he brought in Bandana P to drop knowledge. It sounds like he’s explaining to someone why they should shut the fuck up when he says, “Don’t let your mouth get you in shit your legs run from.”
12. “Bulworth” feat. KRS-One, Kam & Method Man (1998)
Four incredible MCs over a Muggs beat from a Warren Beatty film soundtrack. Not much else to say, except that KRS-One blows everyone out with shots fired at various publications.
11. Nas, “Live Nigga Rap” (1996)
I tried avoiding formal Mobb Deep appearances, but this one is too good to pass up. P sparks this vintage track that was originally recorded for Hell On Earth, and any verse that reference God-U-Now deserves a spot in the hip-hop hall of fame.
10. Big Pun, “Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy)” feat. Inspectah Deck (1998)
This is always a treat to return to because it showcases three brilliant rappers with vastly different styles. Inspectah is surgical while Pun unleashes a barrage of heat, but Prodigy has a completely individual way of attacking this Juju beat as he conjures images of shirts wet with blood.
9. Tony Touch, “Basics” (2000)
Alchemist is at his best with hypnotic beats like “Basics” and it moves P to say things like, “I’m P like the stank urine in your staircase/ Nigga from me, stay the most distant, you out of place.” Grimy.
8. PMD, “It’s The Pee ‘97” (1997)
This sounds grounded in the Hell On Earth period as P rhymes about struggling to stay on earth and images of Timbs and storming the world.
7. Almighty RSO, “War’s On” (1996)
Wack-ass Benzino and his Almighty RSO did few things right in their career, but their best move was probably securing this Prodigy verse. What’s better: Houdini P saying he was taught to bust guns by reptilians or rhyming “apostle” with “arsenal”?
6. Big Noyd, “Infamous Mobb” (1995)
Big Noyd’s debut album was idiosyncratic—of 11 tracks, only eight were actual songs, and five of those featured Prodigy’s vocals. Over Havoc beats, they almost sound like Infamous leftovers, minus the whole Q-Tip thing. P sets it off with “We explode like super nova, and implode your whole sculpture/We make quota and cook up some big boulder.”
5. LL Cool J, “I Shot Ya (Remix)” feat. Keith Murray, Fat Joe & Foxy Brown (1995)
Prodigy is one of the few rappers to ever dis someone that he’s on the same track with, hence the censored name in his rhyme (it’s Keith Murray). There might not be a more memorable phrase from a Prodigy verse than “Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body/Secret society, tryna keep they eye on me.”
4. Screwball, “Heat Is On” (2000)
Hostyle, KL, Blaq Poet and Solo don’t get enough credit for their Y2K Is On album, with production from Pete Rock, Godfather Don, DJ Premier, and more. Prodigy eviscerates his verse on ‘Heat Is On,’ flowing like water in that ungraspable style that he perfected.
3. Cormega, “Thun Kicko” (2001)
According to Prodigy, this was recorded for Murda Muzik (somewhere between ’97 and ’99) and Cormega, who takes shots at Nas in his verse, recorded his part long after P did. Listen closely as P breaks down punk rappers with recording metaphors—“Yo you’s a notebook crook, with looseleaf beef/A backseat criminal who pass the heat.” Numerous references to gats on your DAT and analog outlaws make this a dismantling verse aimed at no one at all. Nas apparently thought P was taking shots at him too and recorded “Destroy and Rebuild” in response.
2. Pete Rock, “The Game of Rock” feat. Raekwon & Ghostface Killah (1998)
Ghostface blacks out on here, but Prodigy has a crazy underrated verse with internal rhymes only he could think up—“My rap scroll belittled your goals and visions/Prohibition got my whole block pissin’ Christian.”
1. A+, “Gusto” (1996)
Two days before his 16th birthday, Hempstead rapper A+ dropped his debut album, The Latch-Key Child, and he allegedly wrote this song when he was 13. P’s first verse can also be found on an unreleased Mobb Deep song called “Take It In Blood,” but the real issue is which of the two Prodigy verses is better. These are his some of his most heartfelt rhymes ever committed to wax.