Alas, Prodigy and Havoc have doused the juvenile hell of their childish beef into fodder for the birds and consequentially the infamous equilibrium of hip-hop has been restored once again. With their latest two-disc release, The Infamous Mobb Deep, for possibly the first time in their career, the legendary duo are not out to prove anything. If you are not wholly stuck off the realness by now, glossy distractions remain completely AWOL. No bombshell femcees like Lil’ Kim or Vida for an added commercial element. No massive promotional campaigns sponsored by 50 cent. Not even any attempts from a couple of free agents to get in the good graces of Jive to rip Britney. Not to say those efforts produced wack material, but as the current Mobb release shows us, the virtuous path to infamy is easily achieved when M-O-B-B are solely focused on dropping gems on ‘em.
And there are gems aplenty on the album, commencing with “Taking You Off Here,” a lyrical projectile wasting no time in eradicating those of the “Mobb-Deep-fell-off” persuasion. Next up is the first single, “Say Something,” and it’s clear Mobb’s modus operandi still harkens by to the gritty barracks of Queensbridge, and while they are far from niggas in Paris, the subsequent result is murda musik to excellence. Some tracks like “Lifetime” are so loyal to the infamous Mobb Deep sound that it’s sometimes confusing as to whether or not they belong on the second disc.
Because there is such a tenacious dose of both quantity and quality, a few tracks are bound 2 fall prey to the skip button. Unexceptional efforts like “Timeless” and “Waterboarding” weigh down an otherwise impeccable release. However, even P’s lukewarm struggle bars could operate as heatrocks for most with a mic, and for most of the album P is once again campaigning as the H.N.I.C. As far Hav, everybody’s favorite drunken beatsmith is not diagnosed with Sickle Cell, but he has unfortunately suffered the Big Boi syndrome for the majority of his career. But if you ever managed to get it twisted before, Mobb’s other half seems energized here in a way that we haven’t witnessed in years, and he is magnificent throughout the album, such as “Check The Credits” where he steals the show.
Other than French Montana and Mack Wilds, the guests on the album are all part of an exclusive club of 90’s disciples who have remained steadfast to the Darwinian survival of the fittest mentality, and the temperature rises when The Mobb sacrifice their “it’s mine” mentality and spread love to a few guests of honor, such as “Get Down.” Here we are blessed with the canine incarnate version of Snoop, and although a Boi-1da produced Mobb track with Bun B and Juicy J sounds terribly unnatural, “Legendary” is without question a standout recording in a sea of standouts. While it may surprise none that three hot verses are spit from you know who, Juicy snaps when it’s his time to shine.
Featuring all three members of The LOX, “All A Dream” sounds incredible on paper but is sadly lost in translation, never realizing itself as the orgasmic mindfuck it rightfully should be. But in possibly the greatest news since nude pics of Scarlett Johansson graced the canals of the internet, Nas joins his childhood buddies for some more live nigga rap on “Get It Forever.” As is their custom whenever they link up, all three participants compete for lyrical supremacy, but the don caps off the first disc with a clear W.
But the true winners are the fans, because Disc 2 is complete with a slew of unreleased treasures from the recording sessions for the Infamous album. It’s difficult to decide whether or not to be filled with joy or enraged that the duo didn’t give up these goods years ago. A rendition of “Eye For An Eye” with the vintage alcoholic slur of the ‘95 Ghost Deni himself? The remixes allow songs we already love to take on new dimensions, such as the subdued jazz touch of “Survival of the Fittest.” No disrespect to Prodigy and Havoc, but The Infamous Mobb Deep is a much more satisfying release than any novel, exclusive beat cd, or solo record for that matter. It’s strange to think that the Mobb are now on studio album eight, but hopefully they will continue to drop heat for many years to come.