Ever the innovator, Lin-Manuel Miranda is now in the seventh month of his Hamildrops series, which, until December, brings us reimagined covers of original tracks from America’s favorite Broadway musical, Hamilton, each month. In May, the Los Angeles-based rock group The Regrettes performed a hurried rendition of the Act One ditty “Helpless.” The June Hamildrop is a special one: Mobb Deep’s cover of “Boom Goes The Cannon … ” is dedicated to the late Prodigy, one half of the legendary New York hip-hop duo, who passed away from sickle cell anemia complications almost a year ago. This recording is one of the last Prodigy and his counterpart Havoc produced together before Prodigy’s death on June 20, 2017. Listen to Mobb Deep’s “Boom Goes The Cannon … ” below.
Miranda was so influenced by Mobb Deep that they’re quoted in a Hamilton song. Prior to Prodigy’s death, Miranda invited the duo to preview his lyrical sampling, a meeting which led them to record “Boom Goes The Cannon,” an evolved version of Hamilton tune “Right Hand Man.”
“I paid homage to Mobb Deep in Hamilton by having Alexander Hamilton quote one of Prodigy’s most immortal lyrics: ‘I’m only 19 but my mind is old … ’” Miranda said in a statement. “They are New York hip-hop legends.”
Albert Johnson, better known as Prodigy, and Havoc, aka Kejuan Muchita, released their first album as Mobb Deep, Juvenile Hell, in 1993. The follow-up, 1995’s The Infamous, is more highly regarded than its name would imply, arriving as a game-changer for the New York City rap scene. As of June 17, it’s been one year since Prodigy was last seen performing live in Las Vegas.
Miranda continued to emphasize his graciousness to the duo, adding:
I feel so humbled and grateful that Havoc and Prodigy not only came to see us at the Rodgers in 2016, but were inspired to create this track before Prodigy’s untimely passing last year. Their lyrics, as ever, paint a vivid picture of friendship and solidarity in the face of overwhelming odds. I’m unbelievably proud to present new Mobb Deep music in 2018. This one’s for Queensbridge.
Havoc also commented on the release of “Boom Goes The Cannon … ”:
It was an honor being part of the Hamilton project just on the strength alone I’m a huge fan of the musical; I am a history buff so it was right up my alley. This being one of the few last recordings I did with Prodigy definitely holds a special place in my heart and always will when I hear the record. Releasing the record now at this time of year after the passing of my partner in rhyme, Prodigy, is a great way to pay homage to him and continue not only Mobb’s legacy, but his as well. He’ll forever be my “right hand man.”
Previous Hamildrop volunteers include The Decemberists, Ben Platt and, of all people, Weird Al Yankovic. It was also recently announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In The Heights movie will get a summer 2020 release.
Listen to Mobb Deep’s cover of the quasi-posthumous “Boom Goes The Cannon” below. Further down, listen to Mobb Deep at Daytrotter circa 2014.