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"I was like, 'Cool, he came back,'" Prodigy recalls. "Because we keep it gangsta, they don't have no choice but to come at us. If you wanna be known, you gotta get in where we at. You've got to get our respect. A good way to get our respect is to throw a shot at us."
But Jay-Z wasn't the only rapper the crew had a beef with. On "Hit 'Em Up," Tupac made fun of Prodigy's sickle-cell anemia. Mobb responded with "Drop a Gem on 'Em," which came out after Tupac's death. After all this drama, some listeners might find it a bit disrespectful that Prodigy and Havoc rap over classic Tupac beats on the recent street release Big Mike Presents Mobb Deep West Coast: The Mixtape Vol. 1, but Prodigy insists that the record was done out of respect.
"If they do think it is disrespectful, whatever," he insists. "I'm shouting out Tupac all over that joint. I'm shouting out Biggie, Tupac. I don't know why they would take it as disrespectful. If people hold grudges, that's their prerogative. I'm sure you do have people out there who are ignorant, who think like that; I can't help them."
Prodigy and Havoc will find out soon enough if there's any ill will after all these years, as they head to the West Coast for the first time later this year.
"They've never been to the West Coast," says tour manager Jeremiah "Ice" Younossi, of Emmel Communications/Violator Management, the powerful firm that has booked successful tours for 50 Cent and G-Unit. "This is a historical Mobb Deep tour. They've been through so many classic albums. They really are the godfathers of this type of gangsta rap that originated simultaneously with NWA on the West Coast and groups like Mobb Deep and Kool G Rap on the East Coast."
Even so, will the West Coast embrace a Mobb mentality? Prodigy thinks so.
"I mean, wherever we go, I feel the love," he says. "It's the 'hood shit. They've got to feel it in the 'hood. If the 'hood love it, the world got to love it."