While most hardcore gangsta rappers are quickly written off by seasoned rap fans and critics as lowbrow exploitation, Mobb Deep overcame the stereotype, becoming one of the few groups to garner unanimous acclaim from all sides of the rap community. Prodigy and Havoc originally met while both attending the prestigious Graphic Arts High School in Manhattan as teenagers, thanks to their mutual residence in Queens along with their mutual passion for hip-hop. Their brutally honest reality rapping and complimentary melancholy beats landed them on Loud Records in 1995, resulting in their major-label debut, The Infamous. Propelled to awareness by fellow Queens rapper Nas, Mobb Deep suddenly found themselves developing a quickly growing cult following.
A year later in 1996, Prodigy and Havoc released Hell on Earth; debuting at No. 6, the album found them fully realizing their approach, dropping both evocative beats and cinematic rhymes that communicated the dark side of New York's urban landscape. Months after bootlegs first leaked and after several pushed-back street dates, Murda Muzik finally dropped in 1999, debuting at No. 3 and quickly going platinum on the strength of "Quiet Storm," a song that epitomized the signature Mobb Deep style. Not surprisingly, the album was welcomed by critics, who again applauded the group's lucid cinematics, driven primarily by Havoc's inimitable production.