I ♥ Tuesdays Vol. 5

The classic status of Mobb Deep’s The Infamous is undisputed: It’s a seminal record that did as much as any other album to establish the grimy style that epitomizes New York rap, and quite frankly, it’s one of my all-time favorites. From Hav and P spilled the gritty street tales that offered an inside look into the sad-but-true struggles of impoverished youth while simultaneously providing Scorsese-esque escapism for those leading a more mundane lifestyle.  Though the duo’s debut Juvenile Hell had put The Mobb on the map two years earlier, it was The Infamous and a guiding hand from Q-Tip on the project that turned certified legends.

Now, more than 16 years later, we are forced to call such legendary status into question.  The collective Mobb Deep career path has been marked by more missteps than a Parkinson’s foundation dance party.  1996’s Hell on Earth was on point, but was certainly a disappointment coming off a classic record.  Three years later came Murda Muzik, a mediocre record that, while helping the Queen’s representatives get some mainstream shine for “Quiet Storm,” is best remembered for a collaboration with Lil’ Kim. Following a solid solo release from Prodigy in 2000 (as well as a video-set robbery that left P stripped of more than $340,000 worth of ice) came perhaps the biggest blow: 2001 Summer Jam, when one Shawn Carter aired out some photos of Sickle Cell P getting his Micheal Jackson on as a youngster, raising questions regarding the credibility of the Mobb’s gangster imagery.  And it didn’t stop there.  Hov’s “Takeover,” while best known for spawning beef with Nas, reportedly put serious hurting on P’s confidence as an emcee.  Everyone knows the bars by now: “When I was pushing weight back in ’88, you was a ballerina; I got your pictures, I seen ya. Then you dropped ‘Shook Ones,’ switched your demeanor.  Well?  We don’t believe you, you need more people.”  After being taken down a few notches by the Jiggaman, the Mobb didn’t seem so Mobbish after all: the personas they had built for themselves seemed to be unraveling under the scrutinous watch of the public eye. P and Hav disappeared from the scene for nearly three years, finally reemerging with a solid comeback effort in Americaz Nightmare.  What seemed like a promising return, though, quickly took a step back when the Mobb entered an ill-fated union with 50 Cent and G-Unit Records.   After a lone forgettable record under the G-Unit banner, rumors surfaced that Hav and P would go their separate ways with both artists releasing disappointing solo ventures.  Regardless of their plans, however, the duo was forced into hiatus when P was pulled over by the NYPD, who searched the whip and found an unlicensed .22-caliber.  In October 2007, Lance Banks was sentenced to three-and-a-half years on Riker’s Island.

Perhaps, though, such an awakening is just what the doctor ordered.  It had become entirely evident that the Mobb Deep of old had disappeared and that both rappers – particularly Prodigy – had grown complacent on the microphone.  During P’s stint in the clink, Havoc used his industry connections to put out a few mixtapes and sharpen his emcee skills, having been generally recognized as the weaker of the two lyricists.  It didn’t take long following Prodigy’s March release for a buzz to build, thanks in large part to P’s highly-acclaimed tell-all autobiography My Infamous Life.  Only one month after the cuffs came off, Prodigy dropped the dope Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP for free download.  Longtime Mobb fans had to be happy with two outcomes: 1. Prodigy sounded reinvigorated and 2. longtime partner-in-rhyme Havoc was featured on the EP.  Mobb Deep is back?

If the Black Cocaine EP released last week is any indication, the Infamous Mobb are at least taking steps in the right direction.  Though only five tracks and 20 minutes in duration, the EP features signature rugged production from The Alchemist, Beat Butcha, Young Free, and, of course, a single joint from Havoc himself.  Another reunion of sorts finds Hav and P linking up on “Get It Forever” with Nas, and rumors have already circulated regarding a future full-length collaboration from QB’s Finest.

I’m fucking geeked to hear Prodigy and Havoc displaying the comradery that once had the duo pegged as genre generals, attacking the microphone like they still have something to prove in the rap game.  The truth is, it’s not too late for them to influence how often their names are brought up in G.O.A.T. discussions.  Their move.  I, for one, am waiting.

Originally posted November 29, 2011 at theblast-blog.com


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