Review Summary: Mobb Deep's latest release--and first offering of new music since 2006--does what any good EP should do. It serves to build anticipation for the full-length that will follow.
The chances of Mobb Deep releasing another classic slowly but surely dwindled throughout the 2000s. There was a slow decline in quality with every new release, and once Prodigy was locked up for 3 1/2 years on a gun-possession charge, the hope of seeing another "The Infamous", "Hell On Earth", or even "Murda Muzik" seemed to be a lost cause. However, the Queensbridge duo was always at their best when facing grim situations, and their first release of new music in five years is a reflection of that.
They start things off with "Dead Man Shoes", which is aided by a dark, grimy beat, more reminiscent of their mid-90's output than anything they've released in almost a decade. Though the lyrics themselves are somewhat pedestrian, especially for someone who can spit the kind of verses Prodigy is capable of, you get a sense that they're just getting warmed up while listening to it. The next two tracks prove that to be the case, as they find solid footing on both the title track and "Conquer". The former features production from long-time collaborator The Alchemist, delivering a solid beat to compliment sturdy performances from both Havoc and Prodigy. The latter track is the obvious single, with horns that sound triumphant, especially when taken in the context of the point Mobb Deep is currently at in their career.
The first three tracks serve a build-up to the penultimate track and album highlight, "Get It Forever", featuring Nas in the album's lone guest appearance, and he absolutely kills it on his verse. Factor in that The Alchemist has provided a complete monster of a beat with a groaning sample looped in, and some really solid lyrics from both members---"Beat so ugly gotta put a f*cking mask on it" being my personal favorite---and Mobb Deep has managed to pull off what didn't seem possible...releasing one of the best hip-hop tracks of 2011.
The album closes with "Last Days", which could be seen as the duo acknowledging the fact that, if they're going to release one last album that can be mentioned in the same sentence with their best work, it's going to have to be the full-length that follows this EP, which is supposed to be released sometime in 2012. I've wanted to see the Mobb to put out something on par with their glory years for over ten years now. This EP actually gives me a lot of hope that they might still have that in them, and for that it is an absolute success.