By Zena Tsarfin

“Where’s the weed at?” Prodigy asks, mere moments after arriving at the HIGH TIMES photo shoot. His promptness and quick approval of the Strawberry Cough and Sour Diesel strains provided aren’t surprising—after all, he and rhyming partner Havoc, who together form the seminal Queensbridge, NY, hip-hop act Mobb Deep, have frequently paid tribute to herb on legendary tracks like “Flavor For The Non Believes” and “Shook Ones, Pt II.” But much has changed in the rap world during the 13 years since the duo first burst onto the scene with their gritty lyrics and melancholic beats, and there’s a great deal to discuss. As soon as Havoc arrives and inhales a few drags from an already-burning Dutch Master blunt, it’s time to take a hazy look back at Mobb’s evolution from juvenile hellions to generals in the G-Unit army.

“It’s a hard business to stay in and stay sane in,” Prodigy starts. “You’re trying to be creative and the rap game is always changing. So for us to be in the game this long says a lot about our character and who we are.” Remaining relevant has been especially challenging for Mobb Deep: Peaking early with 1995’s watershed album, The Infamous—their sophomore outing—they enjoyed only a five-year grace period in the spotlight before a public feud with Jay-Z ate away at their street credibility and the sell-out accusations began bubbling after 2001’s commercial-leaning Infamy dropped. Switching labels from Loud to Jive in time to release 2004’s Amerikaz Nightmare didn’t do the trick, and Mobb Deep soon found themselves without any deal at all.