Review Summary: Prodigy makes the last good Mobb Deep-oriented album, hold on to this for as long as you can without listening to The Infamous.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
In the early nineties, the East Coast began to disappear by the second. Armies of West Coast rappers from the Death Row record label began coming in and took over the hip hop scene for four years. Then, in the years 1994 and 1995 with three big releases, the New York scene quickly started coming back. One of those releases is Mobb Deep’s The Infamous
. The thing that gave The Infamous
loads of appeal is the fact that it was by far the darkest and most realistic view of the gangster life in the New York area. It wasn’t just lyrics either, the production of the album was also very obscure, and those two things mixed well together, making one of the best hip hop records of the nineties, if not of all time. The sad thing about Mobb Deep is that they declined a lot after that release, indulging in a more commercialized sound in later albums. The releases Murda Muzik
and Prodigy’s solo release H.N.I.C. (Head Nigga In Charge)
were the last glimpse of the dark music that they made before they completely demolished their old sound and became the pop rappers that they are now. This brings me to the second of those last two releases, H.N.I.C
, and while it still is a good album, the results of the album are mixed, while some of songs are masterpieces that could compete with The Infamous
material, other songs are just weak.
The most noticeable and best feature of H.N.I.C.
is the beats and production. Most of the songs have an excellent mixture of the commercialized sound of newer Mobb Deep and the bleak sound of older Mobb Deep. This is where this album takes the lead over Mobb’s last good record Murda Muzik
, the beats are much more diverse as well, due to the varying producers and beat makers on the album. But that also leads to some mixed results as well as some amazing works of production arts. “Keep It Thoro” contains an excellent collection of grooving bass lines and sharp and precise piano first-third-fifths, while other songs like “Wanna Be Thugs” and “Three” contain swaying and fear inducing classical samples. These, along with some melancholic piano sampling for “Veteran’s Memorial” make up some of the highlights of the album, but the fact of the matter is that most of album is excellent in the beat and production department, this, however, brings me to a few o the exceptions on the album. “Rock Dat ***” contains a rather obnoxious horn sample, while “What U Rep” contains the over-usage of a high-pitched sample of what seems like a toy piano.
With the mention “What U Rep”, I am immediately reminded of the biggest problems of the album; the over-abundance of guest rappers. While Prodigy for the most part still is the real gangster that he used to be, and although at times he does indulge in money and bitches, his rhymes are still very bleak. However, most of his guests are either way worse than Prodigy or way better than P, and unfortunately it is mostly the first. I already mentioned “What U Rep” for its flawed beat, but it also has the problem of guest rapper N.O.R.E. I have heard a lot of hype about the young rapper, but from what heard here, he is just an awful rapper. His flow is cookie cutter, and he seems to lazily lose his place and then sharply and find it again, and when he does, he does it in a tone that just takes a large bloody bite at the ear. Other guests that are largely there just to piss off the listener are the off-beat Bars & Hooks (who P allowed to open up the frigging album), the incredibly raspy Twin Gambino, Big Noyd, and even his old pal Havoc. Another group of guests that get in the way of the album are the guests that are in fact better for their particular song than Prodigy. These guest include the always lyrically amazing Cormega, and female rapper BK, whom while isn’t quite as good as Prodigy, her emotional value on “Trials Of Love” reigns supreme. While Prodigy does stand on his two front legs throughout the record, most of his guests falter on and sometimes completely demolish the songs at hand.
is a good, at times even a great record, but it has too many guest appearances, and it is far too long. I can tell Prodigy wasn’t really too confident in himself really, despite all the claims he makes on the album. He wasn’t really sure how to do a record without his boy Havoc, so he got a bunch of guest appearances and made an otherwise excellent record a good one with too much of glitz and glam of popular rappers and guest appearances. He even had Havoc on a song is what makes the album a bit more disappointing. There is one thing that we can’t fault Prodigy for doing though, he made the last good album of the Mobb Deep era. After this album (and Jay-Z’s absolute annihilation of the group through the art of dissing), Mobb Deep would make laughable, commercialized “gangster rap” albums like Infamy
, Amerikaz Nightmare
, and the G-Unit gangbanga Blood Money
. They would fall more and more into the depths of failure in rap music, until a glimpse of light came from Prodigy’s lantern once again with H.N.I.C. pt.2
. Until I listen to that record hoping for success, I have this last record to hold onto for Mobb Deep’s treasure sound that they might not ever find again.
“Keep It Thoro”
“Trials of Love”