(Note- This may surprise some, but to this day, I've never heard the album that's considered their debut, "Juvenile Hell". I don't why, I just never got around to checking it out. I may do so in the future.
Wayne's Words- My dad actually had a copy of this album on tape, and he let me have it (not sure if he didn't like it or not), and once I heard it, I couldn't stop playing it. This is one of many albums that defined the east coast sound in the mid 90s. Havoc and Prodigy delivered a bone chilling classic that'll always remain their best album on all levels. I still can't believe the first part of "Shook Ones" was not on this album. Either way, it's still classic.
*I owned 3 versions of this CD, most recent version I bought in February 2003.
5 favorite songs- The Apostle's Warning, Drop A Gem On Em, Nighttime Vultures, GOD Pt. III, & Bloodsport
Wayne's Words- I remember buying this on cassette the week after it came out, so you know it has a strong nostalgic vibe with me. When I first heard it, I thought it was incredible, and I still feel that way today. The production was certainly dark (probably the most dark of all of their albums) and Prodigy was certainly continuing his hot streak on the mic after the "Infamous" album (check out his awesome verses on "Nighttime Vultures", "GOD Pt. III", and "The Apostle's Warning").
Rating- 5 stars
*Including the cassette, I bought this album 3 times, and that does include the enhanced version with the "hidden track" In The Long Run".
5 favorite songs- It's Mine, Adrenaline, Allustrious, Where Ya Heart At, & Murda Muzik
Wayne's Words- This is another album that comes to mind when I think of 1999. Another excellent album from the Mobb, and although it was plagued with unfortunate bootlegging (which Havoc wasn't too happy about, then and now), the overall product still holds up today. Almost classic. And I can't forget, Prodigy still brought the goods on the mic (check that first verse on "Quiet Storm") and Havoc continued to shine as a producer, even underrated then.
Rating- 4.5 stars
*I bought this album twice
5 favorite songs- Dealt Wit The BS, Wannabe Thugs, Infamous Minded, Genesis, & You Can Never Feel My Pain
Wayne's Words- Prodigy, specifically was going through changes on a lyrical level, but you'd never know it listening to this album, which is another excellent one from to bottom. This, along with the "Murda Muzik" album may very well be the last real lyrical "gems" that they have come out with.
Rating- 4.5 stars
5 favorite songs- The Learning (Burn), My Gats Spitting, Kill That N****, Crawlin, & Nothing Like Home
Wayne's Words- Well, welcome to the descent of Mobb Deep (unfortunately), and it began with this album. Lyrically, Havoc outshines Prodigy on this album, and not by much. And speaking of Prodigy, wow, after Jay-Z's "Takeover", he's really never been the same MC since, and all bias aside, that's what happens when you're ill equipped to deal with the likes of Jay-Z. Either come hard or not at all. Prodigy all through this album is on another level, and mostly not in a good way. It's still a decent album (and it does carry a strong nostalgic factor with me also), but not one of their best.
Rating- 3.5 stars
5 favorite songs- Win Or Lose, One of Ours Pt. 2, Flood The Block, When You Hear The, & Got It Twisted
Wayne's Words- After releasing the slept on but very good "Free Agents Murda Mixtape" in 2003, they returned with their most underrated album I think. It didn't receive much attention in 2004, which was definitely a different time in hip hop, but it still was very good.
Rating- 4 stars
*I bought this album twice
5 favorite songs- Put Em In Their Place, Smoke It, Outta Control (Remix), The Infamous, & Have A Party
Wayne's Words- To say I highly anticipated this album would be an understatement. I, and others, had somewhat high hopes for the Mobb being signed with G-Unit, and my hopes were dashed. Not only did G-Unit clearly not help Havoc and Prodigy, this album is unanimously looked at as their worst and with good reason. Lyrically it's mostly forgettable and the production ranged from above average to good. Although I'm a G-Unit fan, their sound didn't fit Mobb Deep at all and had 50 let them be themselves for this record, the results would've been different.
Rating- 2 stars (I went from 3 stars to 2.5, now it's staying at a 2.)
*Before I ordered this again in the early part of 2010, I initially bought this when it first came out in 2006, and after I first played it, I was SO disappointed with it I went back to my local FYE and traded it.
Miscellaneous (I'm giving the following albums the same attention they were given around the time they were released, which is essentially little to none.)
Prodigy- Return of the Mac (This was a rather decent album. Prodigy does well over Alchemist's beats.)
Prodigy- HNIC2 (Forgettable album, nuff said, and the mixtape HNIC3 probably has similar results.)
Prodigy- The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP was very good, but was totally forgotten.
Havoc's The Kush & Hidden Files (I never bothered to check out his solo albums.)
They also released an "album" titled "The Safe Is Cracked", which I never checked out.
The "Black Cocaine EP" was forgettable also.
Overall, Mobb Deep has already cemented their place in hip hop history, and if they were to retire tomorrow, we can fondly look back on mostly everything they've done from the Infamous album up to Prodigy's solo debut and remember their most creative and successful period. Am I anticipating another album from them? The fan in me says yes and hopefully they'll be able to pull it off. I can't say that I'm anticipating Prodigy's new album, HNIC3, which is scheduled to be released in July. It seems as though Prodigy is really trying to fit in with today's generation, as one of the "noteworthy" guests on the album is Wiz Khalifa, whom I'm not a fan of, plus there are NO beats from Havoc on this album, and that right there is a disappointment. I'll listen to the album via Spotify before I buy it. Other than that, long live Mobb Deep!!!!!