Mobb Deep
Hell on Earth


3.0
good

Review

by Alex Robertson STAFF
March 2nd, 2013 | 44 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


#95: Mobb Deep, Hell on Earth (1996)

Hell on Earth is not among my favorite rap albums, but it seems somehow essential in its singular vision of minimalist intensity. Reviewing Heltah Skeltah’s Nocturnal (1996), I remarked on the duo’s curious decision to bind the often violent intensity of their lyrics to sonic backdrops often bordering on the ephemeral; with Mobb Deep’s second album, that decision feels less like a curiosity and more like some sort of destiny being fulfilled. On display here are beats that seem barely there at all (my favorite: “Shook Ones Pt. I,” an early track included on the international release) sustaining lyrics as disquietingly focused as Chinese water torture. The vestiges of boom bap and gangsta rap are stripped down until only their vital organs are visible--so much so that the simple organ riff of “Still Shinin’” sounds like a luxury by album’s end.

This all makes Hell on Earth an admirable album but one that’s not always easy to listen to. A few weeks ago I described Blu & Exile’s Below the Heavens (2007) as essentially one big blank stare, but now I wish I’d withheld that criticism; here, rappers Prodigy and Havoc never once appear to blink. It makes for a brilliant study in psychology through aesthetics but only a mildly satisfying listening experience, the whole thing a sort of homogenous wash. The album’s cumulative effect is evinced by the fact that I can barely remember a single lyric afterwards, even though Mobb Deep enunciate their words perfectly well. One of the few lines that sticks out is Havoc’s “This rap shit is the bitch you shouldn’t marry into,” stuck near the end of the typically caliginous “Bloodsport”. It’s an affectation common to the genre, that sort of disdain for the art form these artists ostensibly care enough about to have accumulated a now bordering-on-extensive discography. But it speaks volumes about Hell on Earth, which seems like the product not of love or even of a specific creative urge but rather of an instinctual need to rap that has gradually turned pathogenic, even hateful. That leaves the album feeling somehow important, yes, but it also leaves its audience out in the cold--after all, what can a blank stare foster in its recipient but the very same reaction?



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user ratings (188)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
scyther (4)
Chew on that shit, punk faggot...


Comments:Add a Comment 
robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


15052 Comments


lol another bordering on lukewarm review at least this ones short

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


18729 Comments


love this album

havoks production is so good

Digging: Monolake - Hong Kong

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


15052 Comments


still shinin' is so good, probably made all the better by how subtle the rest of the album is

do we still censor swears in reviews cmon i DESERVE BETTER

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2013


50604 Comments


Just edit it out
Pain in the ass I know

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

DoubtGin
March 1st 2013


6752 Comments


looooooooool

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


18729 Comments


extortion is my favorite mobb deep track probably

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


18729 Comments


robertman have you heard big l's lifestylez

bloc
March 1st 2013


34927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


15052 Comments


dont worry guys my next review will probably--no promises--be my most positive yet. next album's a great one

klap
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


10499 Comments


props for using caliginous in a review you depraved, orgiastic man

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
March 1st 2013


50604 Comments


My mom always uses that word to describe my room

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


15052 Comments


i relented for a sec btu i was like cmon gotta throw that one in there

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


17920 Comments


what is this thing your'e doing here


robertsona
Staff Reviewer
March 1st 2013


15052 Comments


moving my way thru the creed discog

Winesburgohio
March 1st 2013


1042 Comments


use calligygian in your next review plz

Digging: Vashti Bunyan - Heartleap

fromtheinside
March 2nd 2013


18717 Comments


just not my cup of tea

Digging: Devin Townsend Project - Z2

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 2nd 2013


8371 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like this a lot more than you do but this was an interesting read.

EyesWideShut
March 2nd 2013


3181 Comments


this one grows on you with more listens. Prodigy goes off on the title track.

pissbore
March 2nd 2013


9935 Comments


i must say, mobb deep's album covers are a pet peeve of mine

Storm In A Teacup
March 3rd 2013


13161 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Gosh I listened to this but I don't remember it



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