Thursday, April 20, 2006

Mobb Deep – Blood Money review (it sucks.)

There comes a time in a recording artist’s career when they need to reassess exactly what the hell they’re doing. Maybe their sound is hopelessly out of date. On the contrary, perhaps they tried to update their style and the results were laughable. Maybe their lyrics or vocals have gone downhill from years of use and abuse leaving them shells of their former glory. Or perhaps unwise associations and poor records have reduced their hardcore fan base to the bare minimum leaving zero interest in their releases. In Mobb Deep’s case, it’s pretty much all of the above as they continue the trend of releasing another record worse than their last with the laughable yet tragic Blood Money.

In the interest of fairness, there are a few songs on Blood Money that manage to be mildly entertaining on account of the production. Speakin so Freely, Pearly Gates, day dreamin, the album highlight It’s Alright and a few others feature dope beats that should find a happy home on a Clipse or Juelz Santana mixtape. Unfortunately, they all involve absolutely forgettable performances from the Mobb who seem ill suited for the glossy thug-chick style. The throwaway nature of the lyrics is the saddest aspect of the album: where 1995’s The Infamous featured an insular QB-centric worldview, presenting the two young killers as the protagonists of a kill-or-be-killed reality, Blood Money finds two lazy assembly line thugs acting like b-grade security in Emperor Fiddy’s posse. They stumble and mumble through thug-clichés, never presenting an original idea and never trying to raise the bar beyond the lowest common denominator. It’s depressing really, Prodigy used to be one of New York’s most admirable lyricists and Havoc’s individual style built on Q-Tip’s jazz to form the stark sounds of the drug addled streets. Now the album’s single remotely interesting line (We don’t give a fuck about that religious Bullshit) is censored and half the beats were chosen by executive producer Curtis Jackson. So much for lyricism and integrity.

It doesn’t help matters that despite the few highlights, the majority of the beats are boring examples of the factory-clean G-Unit sound. Backstage Pass sounds like a ripoff of 2002’s What happened to that boy, Stole Something features one of the most annoying sonic-elements of recent memory and Give it to me and Click Click are laughably contrived and melodramatic respectively. Perhaps a few of these could have found homes with more suitable artists, but hearing Havoc, Prodigy and their direct descendants mumble over these keyboard stabs will inspire guaranteed laughter rather than the intended emotion and leave anyone with sense wondering just how did things get this bad for the Emo-b-b. (Shitty pun intended).

Ultimately, even when Havoc and “Capital P” find modern production that meshes with their style, their tired, repetitive lyrics usually sink the songs. A judicious fan could probably pull 6 or 7 of his favorites off of here and get a decent if lyrically lacking EP, but interlaced with half an album’s worth of filler, it hardly seems worth it. Ironically, while internet critics frowned on 50 Cent’s involvement, Mr. G-Unit hardly ruins the project, acting reverent and playing the back even on his numerous guest verses. Sure he picked some awful tracks, but that’s expected and it’s not as if anyone had the backbone to speak up against them. No, the blame for this album lands squarely on Mobb Deep’s shoulders: poor rapping, sycophantic crew shout outs, lazy lyrics and a general sense that these guys have been reduced to b-team members in the yawn inspiring machine that is Interscope. Mobb Deep aren’t threatening anymore; they’re diminutive 30 year old art school dropouts who got jobs as paid backup for rap’s unclothed emperor. Time to put up the mic guys.

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