1 of 1 thought this review was well written
New York hip hop used to be one of the strongest music scenes of all time, with artists like Wu-Tang, Biggie Smalls, Mobb Deep, and even DMX. All these rappers and rap groups brought out a higher standard n quality in hip hop than any era ever before; it contained dark, moody, minimalistic beats and grim lyrics about the hardship of living the street life. The only criticism of this type of music was that it was a bit too reliant on samples, but in the case of Mobb Deep, it was executed in order to make the perfect atmosphere. However, like every group and artist involved with the mid 90s New York revolution, Mobb Deep suffered through a heavy decline, going to the lowest of low (the horribly over-glossy yet incredibly dry and unoriginal Blood Money) of any hip hop group. The main reason for this decline is Prodigy the rapper, whose flow got incredibly lazy and rhymes lost their realistic effect, but this decline also effected producer/rapper Havoc, whose beats have become boring attempts at ‘keeping it real’ while being commercial, resulting in overproduced junkyard beats that are an awkward mixture of new York and the club. After years of hype, we are finally treated to Havoc’s debut album The Kush, and with this, we see a major improvement over Havoc’s work from the past 10 years.
The Kush is better than Havoc’s past efforts if only by accident. There is absolutely nothing different here than on albums like Blood Money, the production is glossy, the rapping is boring, and the guests are embarrassing. This album should have been a case of bad actors, bad directing, bad movie, but in this case, two negatives makes a positive surprisingly enough. The production, although it indulges heavily on a certain pop influence, most of the songs still contain an incredibly dark undertone. Opener “NY 4 Life” is sort of experimental for Havoc, considering it contains a menacing organ riff that resembles a haunted house, as opposed the usual abuse of golden age samples. But when the album really opens up, it opens up well with lead single “I’m The Boss”, opening up with some classic 90s hip hop beats. “I’m the Boss” is the perfect song of the album really, everything works throughout; the perfected dark sound of the 90s Mobb Deep brought to a modern day and with an added bass groove for catchy purposes, a hooky chorus, and usual ego-centric rap that manages to fit with the song. It sounds like Havoc is trying too much at once, but for that song, it succeeds.
But this leads to my problem with this album; it tries way too hard a lot of the time. It’s ambitious, but sometimes too much. Havoc tries to mix in too many of his influences at once and it sounds awkward. This and his awkward rapping and weak subject matter makes this albums mid section very weak. “By My Side” is a sign of things to come, with a rather weak leading keyboard riff and Havoc’s lyrics and flow that goes nowhere, while 40 Glocc shows as one of G-unit’s laughable henchmen and sounds even worse, with every cliché of hip hop gun talk abused. However, this is somewhat saved by the “One Less Nigga”, and while quiet similar to “NY 4 Life”, it holds its own with Havoc’s lyrics focusing on fierce gangsta rapping as opposed to pure arrogance. Pretty much every song from here is pretty much hit or miss, whether it be the stoner-like laid back groove and the Compton-New York-blend lyrical style of “Class By Myself” or the hyper aggressive and embarrassingly lackluster “Balling Out”.
The Kush is catchy and enjoyable, and with Havoc’ production ability at an all time high, most of it is excellently done. But at times, it just tries too hard, its way too ambitious. None of the beats are the same, but most have a similar method of catching the listener. Honestly, nobody would care about Havoc’s lackluster rhyming if it weren’t for the musically inconsistency. Overall, it’s a very good album, and it’s great to see Havoc’ creativity back on board, but he goes overboard with his ideas, while his rhyming ideas stay minimum. He can write decent rhymes occasionally, but he really doesn’t try hard to diversify his assets. Get The Kush if you like hip hop, but average listeners be warned, the quality control center on this album is practically nil.
2.9 out of 5