Videographer: SlimSee Also:
Video Producer: Quadre Owens
Within Mobb Deep, Havoc and Prodigy have played two very different positions. Usually the mouthpiece, P has been visible in the industry, released two solo albums, and often poured gasoline on fiery rivalries and disputes. Havoc on the other hand, is quiet, has done limited production for others outside of his camp, and now, over 15 years after the duo began, releases his solo debut.
Kush takes a direction different from that which we've seen from Prodigy. The album, released on Brooklyn's Nature Sounds label, is entirely produced by Hav, with the producing-MC contributing vocal gifts to every track as well. With Queensbridge artists of old and new, this project, which Havoc appears to take quite lightly, could be a pivotal point for the QB legacy. Tucked away in his Ozone Park, Queens studio, a jovial Havoc tells AllHipHop.com about his album, unknown samples, and how his next customer could easily get another "Survival of the Fittest." It ain't done, dunns.
AllHipHop.com: Prodigy and Alchemist did their Return of the Mac album. What sparked you to do yours? Was it answering the fans' requests, or something you always wanted to do?
Havoc: Basically, first of all, this is not a Havoc solo album - yet. This is an introduction into my solo album that's gonna come in '08. This is more me on a production tip, presenting a couple artists that I'm working with and stuff like that. What sparked me to do my work on my own for a change was basically the fans out there sayin', "When you gonna come with your solo joint? [Prodigy] did his thing, Alchemist did his thing." I always wanted to come with my own material, but I never got a chance to, being that I'm always working on Mobb Deep albums, which I love to do.
AllHipHop.com: Why Nature Sounds? A lot of people might've expected Koch or something more in the mainstream...
Havoc: That just happened kinda by chance. I had never heard of Nature Sounds before, till I was introduced to them by a longtime friend who came to me and was like, "Yo, I got these peoples, they got an independent label..." More or less, I just jumped on an opportunity. I wasn't really looking at Koch Records like that, or any label for that matter. [Nature Sounds] stepped to me, so I just took the opportunity.
AllHipHop.com: Is there a benefit to that? Do they have a good digital game or something?
Havoc: [Laughs] Basically, I look at all labels the same. Whether independent or major, they all the same. The opportunity presented itself...and it's really a benefit for me, ‘cause I get to go out on my own and do what I do. Of course I'm gonna make that bread at the same time. But more or less, it was a benefit for me - all labels are the same, with the digital, ringtones, whatever, whatever.
AllHipHop.com: Producer and MC units are breaking up right and left - Little Brother, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr. The Mobb is in tact, but is it hard to watch your unit go and do that album with Alchemist?
Havoc: Alchemist is like family. We're always working with Alchemist, Alchemist is working with us. If there will ever be a Mobb Deep/Alchemist album...who knows? We're always thinking outside of the box, thinking of ways to put out material. I wouldn't scratch that off the list; something like that probably could happen.
AllHipHop.com: With Sha Money's decision to go strictly to management, how did that effect the placement of your beats within or outside of G-Unit?
Havoc: Nah, it didn't effect anything, you know what I'm sayin'? It's like this: no matter where we go, whether we was on A label or B label, whatever you want to call it, Mobb Deep is self-contained. So it doesn't really matter, the structure of the label that [G-Unit has]. We get things done regardless, so it didn't even effect us.
AllHipHop.com: With Kush, you've got a lot of Queenbridge artists, old and new. Do you think the day will return of lyrical QB artists?
Havoc: Definitely. Everything always goes full circle and comes back to how it started. I'm pretty sure...I know there's artists in QB right now that's off the chain. It's only a matter of time ‘fore somebody else from out there comes with it - and hopefully, I'll have my hand in that.
AllHipHop.com: You've always kept a low profile. How do you think that's affected your career?
Havoc: It's a double-edged sword. You gotta think about it: if you're an artist, you always want to be in the limelight. You have to in the limelight to keep your name out there or whatever. But my whole take on it is different. With me really not going out a lot, it keeps me out of trouble, you know what I'm saying? I know it prevented a lot things that could have happened, not to [have] happened. Every now and then, I'll go out, just to enjoy myself. When you go out, you've got to be careful, ‘cause we artists; the spotlight's on us and people wanna test us. I keep my going out to a minimum. When I go out, I stick-and-move. I'm here. I'm gone. [Chuckles] WATCH VIDEO
AllHipHop.com: You don't that's hurt or helped your career?
Havoc: It might just. When people miss you, it brings your value up. You don't see me in the clubs everyday. So when I'm there, people are like, "Oh s**t! What up son? I don't never see you out."
AllHipHop.com: Is it true that you're unsure which record it was you sampled for "Shook Ones Part 2"?
Havoc: Oh yeah. I don't remember, but one of the sounds in there I remember...at the beginning, that's from an old Quincy Jones record though. The piano loop, I don't even f**kin' remember.
AllHipHop.com: What prompts your creative evolution?
Havoc: I'm ready to take it to the top, no matter what. I'm always trying to grow as a producer. I'm here to do it - whether it's Pop, Rock, whatever; I love music.
AllHipHop.com: If 50 Cent were to walk in the room and ask you, "Yo, could you give me another ‘Survival of the Fittest'?" Could you?
Havoc: All day. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: Some people say, "That was then; I can't reproduce that."
Havoc: I don't know what's wrong with them. [Smiles] I can make another "Survival." Just give me a record [and] I'll find something on there that sounds like it.
AllHipHop.com: We know what Kush means. Does that help you get in your zone creatively?
Havoc: I mean, yeah. Everybody know [that if] you have a lil' bit if smoke, you'll start philosophizing, whatever-whatever. You just get in the zone. That's what this album is for. You just lay back, get high, and just jump into that zone. [Coughs] Just listen how the music is for me.
AllHipHop.com: Whether Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Will.i.am - even Nature Sounds puts out a lot of producer's albums. Why is that?
Havoc: I don't know. Beats are the foundation to the whole s**t. Without a good track, you lost. I guess peoples is just focusin' on good music.
MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008
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