I break bread, ribs / Hundred dollar bills / Peel on Ducatis / And other four wheels
Those first four lines, backed by that ridiculously ill beat, slugged you in the sternum when you heard them, fifteen years ago. And they still cause involuntary, heavy head-nodding episodes to this day.
When it comes to authentic, ride-or-die hip-hop from the latter days of rap’s Golden Age, few crews have as much modern resonance as Mobb Deep. Featuring two double-threat MCs who also produced – Havoc and Prodigy – the crew changed the hardcore rap game in 1995 with their sophomore classic The Infamous, and went on to rule the dark corners of hip-hop’s over- and underground for the second half of the 90s and well into the 2000s.
With a stomping, piano-freaked backdrop laced by producer The Alchemist, Prodigy entered the 2000s with force as he debuted solo on “Keep It Thoro.” It was the first single off his H.N.I.C. album, and it proved to be an anthemic classic that the streets and clubs respect to this day.
Flaunting a smooth-but-menacing flow, Prodigy’s no nonsense lyricism on “Keep It Thoro” is prototypical modern age brag rap. Countless MCs have followed his flow, from Fabolous to Joey Bada$$. And beyond the influence he knew would follow in the song’s wake, he even astutely brags about his flaunting of conventional song structure:
Bang this / Cause I guarantee you bought it / Heavy airplay, all day / With no chorus
“Keep It Thoro” is short and sweet, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. There are no wasted verses, there is no wasted time. Just hardcore rhymes that stay with you, all these years later.