Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Infamous
Clarity hasn't been the first word that comes to mind considering legendary Queensbridge duo Mobb Deep recently. In 2012, Prodigy and Havoc engaged in a particularly nasty public back and forth that led them to break up — on Twitter, no less. Havoc initially denied being behind the tweets attacking his rhyme partner before he fessed up, reconciled with Prodigy and got back to working on their eighth studio album, their first full-length since 2006's G-Unit affiliated Blood Money, curiously titled The Infamous Mobb Deep.The title is precariously close to Mobb Deep's 1995 opus The Infamous.
Mobb Deep :: The Infamous Mobb DeepInfamous/RED MusicAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonIt's not easy to come back with a sequel to a hip-hop classic, but that's not going to stop Mobb Deep from trying. The release of the "Black Cocaine" EP in 2011 was a teaser that this album was a possibility, but a very public feud (over Twitter) nearly put this album on permanent hiatus. When they reconciled last year it was revealed that "The Infamous Mobb Deep" would be not just a sequel, but a tribute to the original, featuring unreleased sessions from the original 1994 recordings before they blew up on the national landscape.
Mobb Deep essentially hit the reset button on their careers after 1993’s Juvenile Hell, and their reemergence on the scene came with a vengeance. The duo introduced us to “Survival of the Fittest” in 1995, and on the track’s first verse, Prodigy set the tone: “There’s a war going on outside, no man is safe from / You could run but you can’t hide forever / From these, streets, that we done took / You walking with your head down scared to look / You shook, cause ain’t no such things as halfway crooks. ” Even though they lacked the name recognition of Nas or Notorious B.
With zero Top 40 singles over their 22-year career, Queensbridge menace masters Mobb Deep have never been properly rewarded for their massive impact on the darker strains of New York rap. The duo's mean, scrappy eighth album is the first to truly embrace their underdog status, wrapping itself in the low-fi, Walkman-ready vibe that has dominated the best of founding members Prodigy's and Havoc's solo work on indie labels. There are no radio singles, no "Executive Producer: 50 Cent," no Thomas Dolby samples – just a grimy aura and boasts about pissing on the courtroom floor and flooding the cold streets with hot blood.
The foreboding, faraway skree announcing Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones Pt. II" is one of rap's most perfect sounds—but what is it? It might be a horn. But it also might be an exploding steam pipe, or a car alarm, or a laser-jet printer. An even stranger sound follows it: four notes played on either a guitar imitating a piano or a piano imitating a guitar.
Hip-Hop’s landscape has undergone a great deal of change since Mobb Deep released their critically acclaimed breakthrough album, The Infamous, in 1995. The hardcore lyricism and street tales that dominated the hip-hop scene during the “East Coast Renaissance” era are now a sweet memory for hip-hop lovers of an earlier generation. Nearly 20 years later, many of the wordsmiths of that era have disappeared from the scene.