Single File

Deep Impact

Years ago, a Queens hip-hop duo mustered up the perfect Mobb (Deep) mentality for Eminem's '8 Mile.'

Eminem may have taken home the Oscar for Best Original Song for ''Lose Yourself,'' but that contribution to the 8 Mile soundtrack wasn't the only tune that made the movie what it is. Queens rap duo Mobb Deep's 1995 street classic ''Shook Ones, Pt. 2'' not only opens the film and sets its tone, but is crucial to its climax. Yet this intersection of hip-hop history and film symmetry was nearly eradicated years earlier by a teenager dabbling in his mother's apartment. ''I was gonna erase it,'' says Havoc, Mobb Deep's beat maestro, about his creation. ''Sometimes, being an artist, you don't know how good your work is until somebody else is like, 'Yo, that's the s -- -.'''

Havoc's partner, Prodigy, added his lyrical menace to the beat, and ''Shook Ones, Pt. 2,'' included on their sophomore album, The Infamous, became one of Mobb Deep's biggest hits. To this day it remains a club anthem. ''That song is very important because now a lot of [hip-hop] is based on telling people they're not really gangsters, and that was one of the very first songs to do that,'' says Craig-G, veteran MC and consultant on 8 Mile. ''Every time someone heard it, it was like their face just lit up,'' Havoc remembers. ''It just has that feeling: the eerie pianos, the deep bass, it's like war,'' making it ideal for a movie about battling, whether it's against other rappers, hardship, or fear.

Music supervisor Carol Fenelon, director Curtis Hanson, and Eminem collectively decided ''Shook Ones, Pt. 2'' would play over 8 Mile's opening credits. The trio agreed the track evoked the appropriate nostalgia for the period and lyrically underscored protagonist Rabbit's insecurities. To complete the character's arc, the song is reprised in the final battle. ''I was thrilled we were using the same music, but it never occurred to me that [Eminem] was going to incorporate the chorus into his attack on Papa Doc. It was breathtaking,'' Fenelon said. ''Where he said 'halfway crooks,' [the extras] sang along with him 'cause they knew exactly what the song was, and that's a pretty amazing thing.''

Club DJ Mark Ronson concurs: ''Still, to this day, if you're DJ'ing a party and you have any real hip-hop fans in there, as soon as they hear [the song's intro] -- 'To all the killers and the hundred-dollar billers' -- people just f--in' lost it.'

Originally posted Apr 11, 2003 Published in issue #704 Apr 11, 2003 Order article reprints
Advertisement

From Our Partners