Havoc Sampled a Stove Turning on for the “Shook Ones Pt. II” Hi-Hats — Plus an Exclusive 40-Track Playlist
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 they completed the original version of “Shook Ones” — one of the first songs recorded for 1995’s The Infamous — they sensed their label was less than thrilled with their initial offering. “We made ‘Shook Ones’ and the response was lukewarm so we’re like, ‘Here go this bullshit again,’” Havoc explained in a 2011 interview with Complex.
Luckily, Havoc and Prodigy didn’t let themselves get discouraged and went right back to the drawing board. “We knew we couldn’t let it go to waste because it was just a dope concept and we said, ‘Let’s make a part two,’” Havoc told Complex. “So we did part two and boom, it was buzzing. And that gave us a boost of confidence.”
“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.’”
To compose the beat for “Shook Ones Pt. II” , Havoc employed some ingenious piano sample chopping of Herbie Hancock’s “Jessica”, showcasing such dexterity that took about 16 years for the internet to finally expose the sample in 2011. After Bronco from the-breaks.com first spotted spotted it, Oliver Wang did a piece on the mysterious piano keys for The LA Times and the group’s long-held sample secret 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 source 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. “It’s good and it’s bad because I was reveling in the mystery of the sample,” he told Complex. “But if people wanted to know so bad then that just shows how much love people have for the track.”
“Something could happen outside and I could go upstairs and make a beat. I would have this feeling like, ‘Let me go upstairs and make a beat of how I’m feeling right now.’”
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. On his 2016 Drink Champs episode, Havoc revealed that the sampled his stove as part of the drum patter. “Right before you light it, before it come on and all of that,” he told Noreaga and DJ EFN while explaining where the sample came from.
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.’”
During the interview Noreaga called Havoc’s invention, “one of the best hip-hop stories I ever heard.” He also showed his amazement at the sheer creativity and innovation it takes to sample something like a stove turning on. “How many other people been cooking on a project stove and ain’t made a dollar?” he asked after Havoc told his tale.
“I made it faster, then made it slower. People were like, ‘What the fuck is that? What record does that come from?’”
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. Like, I would have this feeling like, ‘Let me go upstairs and make a beat of how I’m feeling right now.’
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, before he erased it forever, his friends heard the instrumental and convinced him to keep it. The significance of his decision to hang onto the beat isn’t lost on him. “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 choice Havoc productions. Enjoy, and take a moment to appreciate the full brilliance of the “Shook Ones Pt. II” beat.