Havoc Sampled a Stove Turning on for the “Shook Ones Pt. II” Hi-Hats

Plus an exclusive 41-track Havoc playlist.

Mobb Deep’s The Infamous turned 25 on Saturday. The anniversary seemed like a good excuse to share a modified version of this 2018 Micro-Chop article I wrote about the making of “Shook Ones Pt. II.”

After the commercial and critical disappointment of their Juvenile Hell debut in 1993, Mobb Deep signed to Loud Records with hopes of getting their budding careers back on track.

Unfortunately, the Queensbridge duo’s relief in finding a new home for their music was short-lived. Not long after recording the original “Shook Ones” they sensed that people at Loud were less than thrilled with the first offerings for their sophomore effort. “We made ‘Shook Ones’ and the response was lukewarm so we’re like, ‘Here go this bullshit again,’” Havoc told Insanul Ahmed, Noah Callahan-Bever, and Toshitaka Kondo in a 2011 Complex article about the making of The Infamous.

Havoc and Prodigy didn’t let themselves get discouraged and went right back to the drawing board, leading to a much more positive outcome the second time around. “We did part two and boom, it was buzzing,” Havoc told Complex. “And that gave us a boost of confidence.”

Havoc employed some ingenious chopping to compose the “Shook Ones Pt. II” beat, showcasing such dexterity with Herbie Hancock’s “Jessica” that it took about 16 years for the internet to finally expose the sample. Despite his brilliance in obscuring the original recording, the producer’s secret could only hold for so long. After Bronco from the-breaks.com first spotted it, Oliver Wang did a piece on the mysterious piano keys for The LA Times in 2011 and the group’s long-hidden sample source was finally out in the open.

Once the connection was made, sampling enthusiasts lost their collective minds at Havoc’s incredible restructuring of Hancock’s original, a feat that required significant pitch alteration and rearranging. “I chopped it up and shifted the tempo a lot, so I put them on the keyboard,” he told Complex. “I made it faster, then made it slower. People were like, ‘What the fuck is that? What record does that come from?’”

Havoc admitted that that he didn’t remember the original recording until it was exposed online, which likely further fueled people’s desire to uncover the secret. His feelings towards the sample’s exposure seemed mixed in the 2011 Complex piece—he appreciated people’s enthusiasm while simultaneously priding himself on “Shook Ones Pt. II” becoming the holy grail for sample sleuths.

As wowed as people were by Havoc’s obscuring of Herbie Hancock’s track from 1969, an equally impressive and perhaps lesser-known element of the “Shook Ones Pt. II” story is how he came up with the song’s hi-hats. In the opening minutes of his 2016 Drink Champs episode Havoc revealed that he sampled his stove as part of the drum pattern. “Right before you light it, before it come on and all of that,” he told Noreaga and DJ EFN.

Though Mobb Deep fans and sample spotters had long speculated about the stove because of the opening of the “Shook Ones Pt. II” music video, to this writer’s knowledge Drink Champs deserves credit as the first place to officially document this fascinating production detail.

When Noreaga asked Havoc if he thought of the “Shook Ones Pt. II” beat when he heard the sound of the stove turning on, he replied, “Nah. I was just in the projects, you know, broke as fuck, on some, ‘I just gotta make some shit.’ The stove inspired me. I was like, ‘Yeah, let me throw this into the beat.’”

For Havoc, it seems like his surroundings were instrumental in producing many of the tracks on The Infamous. Whether it was his stove top or something that happened in his neighborhood, he credited the world he was living in at the time for influencing his music. “I made that beat inside my mother’s house in Queensbridge,” he told Complex. “That house gave me a lot of inspiration because something could happen outside and I could go upstairs and make a beat.”

As crazy as it sounds, Havoc told Complex he almost scrapped the “Shook Ones Pt. II” beat because he wasn’t that into it at first. Thankfully his friends heard the instrumental and convinced him to keep it before he erased it forever. The significance of his decision to hang onto the track wasn’t lost on him many years later. “We probably wouldn’t be here right now if I had erased that,” he told Complex.

In appreciation of Havoc’s incredible ingenuity on the “Shook Ones Pt. II” instrumental, here is a 41-track Micro-Chop playlist of some of his choice productions. As you listen, take a moment to appreciate the full brilliance of the “Shook Ones Pt. II” and the blistering, legendary opening verse from late Mobb Deep member Prodigy.

Thanks for reading, see you on Wednesday!