It was at that moment that Havoc truly realized just how connected he was to those unnamed survivors and they are his history and he is their present.
Havoc expressed..."The overwhelming feeling of pride that comes from knowing that you have become your ancestor's wildest dreams is almost too much to absorb. To be recognized as part of my people's story, our legacy, our journey from bondage to today is something that I am grateful for and proud of."
The next time he performs those lyrics, "survival of the fit, only the strong survive", they will have a whole new meaning.
Recently a middle school student from New Jersey went viral after rhyming over Mobb Deep's Quiet Storm Remix beat, and Havoc surprised the 5th grader by presenting him with the first-ever Mobb Deep Freestyle Award. He said that using every opportunity that he can to inspire the youth and others who may not see a way out of their current situations is what he plans to do as often as he can.
Havoc continues to be a true example of how the strong not only survive...they inspire and strive!
Any real hip-hop fan worth their salt will tell you about the impact that The Infamous Mobb Deep had on the culture and can recite lyrics that Havoc and the late Prodigy blessed us with through their countless bangers, but it was the specific set of Havoc’s own lyrics that he spoke aloud during his first visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Since the unexpected and untimely death of his partner in rhyme Prodigy in 2017, Havoc has kept the Mobb Deep legacy going by continuing to do shows and honoring P through social media posts and interviews, reminiscing and discussing the history of the hip-hop duo’s domination of the game. Hav continues to produce, perform and create, as it is part of his DNA, but aside from keeping busy professionally, the legendary MC/producer recently became interested in his family history.
After working with the genealogist, Natlee Green of My Black Heritage, Havoc discovered ancestors and history that he was unaware of until very recently. He learned about ancestors from the early 19th century who were enslaved but successfully transitioned after emancipation, as did many other African Americans. He learned that his people were survivors who refused to succumb to some of the most horrific acts against humanity that the world has ever known. They thrived and survived.
This discovery ignited a fire in Havoc's soul and he wanted to learn more about his ancestors. As a part of his journey to self-discovery, Hav took a trip to the nation’s capital to check out the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He had heard great things from others who had made the trip and now it was his time.
As he walked through the Transatlantic Slave Trade corridor of the Slavery and Freedom Hall, he noticed that the walls were filled with the names of thousands of slave ships. Listed were the country of origin, the name of the vessel, the year of the voyage, as well as the number of slaves that were on the ship versus the number of slaves who survived the journey. One ship, the Reine Des Agnes, registrar showed 407 slaves embarked yet only 269 slaves disembarked/survived the journey which translates roughly to a 67% mortality rate. This was this case for many ships.
When Havoc saw the countless lives lost at sea, his lyrics which have been recited thousands of times, never resonated so clearly and had such meaning until this moment..."Survival of the fit, only the strong survive..." He spoke these words aloud, as he continued through this vast corridor of the museum, which depicted countless survivors' vs casualties of the many kidnapped Africans aboard those slave ships.
Havoc has always been fully aware and understood the magnitude of strength that it took for his ancestors to survive not only the voyage but the continued brutality and bondage that they had to endure for years. Standing in that museum, which was dedicated to honoring their very existence, made it even more clear that he owed his very existence to his ancestors.
After spending the morning in the lower levels of the museum, which most visitors would agree, has very strong content which your emotions would need a few moments to regroup, Havoc looked forward to exploring the many other floors and exhibits of the museum.
He got to the second floor where the Represent: Hip-Hop Photography exhibit is located. Almost as soon as he walked into the room he saw his handwriting on a demo tape of Mobb Deep's second album, The Infamous, on the wall. Next to the tape was a plaque that declared Havoc and Prodigy as …"Two of hip-hop's most prolific artists."
Survival of the Fittest: Mobb Deep's Havoc Connects with His Ancestors