Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Revisiting Mobb Deep's "Infamy"

This album continues to be a sore spot for some fans, namely the long time Mobb Deep fans who REALLY enjoyed "The Infamous", "Hell On Earth", "Murda Muzik", and Prodigy's first solo album "HNIC". Speaking of Prodigy, after his almost classic debut, his career started a very noticeable downturn, specifically on a lyrical level. With all due respect to him, I'm not sure (to this day) if was personal issues having to deal with his sickle cell anemia condition, however, in hip hop terms, once Jay-Z made "Takeover" (not to mention putting a VERY pre-Mobb Deep Prodigy photo on blast at 2001's Summer Jam), well, it was essentially a wrap for Prodigy (and keep in mind, Prodigy had thrown a few shots here and there at Jay-Z over the years prior to "Takeover").Jay-Z's ONE verse was so brutal that it forever effected Prodigy as an MC, plus he failed to respond properly, and as I've said before, if you're going to come at Jay-Z, you better come correct or don't even bother, it's that simple, and simply put, Prodigy found out the hard way, which leads up into this album. (That was some intro wasn't it, lol?)

As a long time fan of Mobb Deep, I anticipated this album, although not as much as their aforementioned three albums, and I also bought it the week of its release. When I think back to 2001, there was little to no buzz surrounding this album, and when you consider one of the leading singles (which I will highlight in this post), you'll see why. This album also holds a very strong nostalgic vibe with me as well (I bought a few weeks after it came out, plus this was during my senior year in high school), and although I'm very familiar with it, I decided to revisit it and see if it still holds up the same or if my opinions have changed. In another interesting twist, after a brief description of each song, I'll detail who had the best verse in the song, and even though this will apply to guest artists as well, it'll mostly be in reference to Havoc and Prodigy. The reasoning behind that is because since this album's release, I've heard and read that Havoc was the lyrical force here (along with his usually great production), while Prodigy was mostly hit or miss during the entire album. So, without further delay, let's get to it.

Release date- December 11, 2001

Havoc produced all the tracks except five.

Pray For Me (Featuring Lil Mo)
This was a very good start to the album, featuring a nicely sung hook by Lil Mo, who had a very good 2001. In all, there's no telling what the Mobb would do, no matter where they were in the world, so your best bet(s) would be to just pray for those that cross their paths. Gangsta indeed. 4 out of 5

Best verse- Prodigy

Get Away (Produced By: Ez Elpee)
Over a dope track by Ez Elpee, the Mobb brings the goods on this one. When it comes to certain things, you gotta get away before things get worse, and I'm sure most of us can relate to that, and Havoc's first verse details this well (more on that in a bit). Best song on the album. 4 out of 5

Best verse- Havoc. His opening verse captures the essence of a song like this in a nutshell, and quite frankly, it should've been his song alone, and Prodigy's lines literally have NOTHING to do with the initial topic of the song.

We get the first blatant attempt at radio/mainstream success with this lackluster track. Havoc's beat is fairly decent, but the lyrics and hook aren't, especially Prodigy's, whose lines literally do NOT rhyme for the entire verse it seems. 2 out of 5

Best verse- Havoc, by default.

Now this is what I'm talking about right here, the classic Mobb Deep sound, from the bangin' Havoc beat (and his verse) to the hook. 4 out of 5
Best verse(s)- Havoc

Kill That N****
I thought this was an absolute banger when I first heard it, but with time and perspective, it's very good, but nothing more. About what you'd expect from the Mobb. Also, Prodigy tries to come hard on this one, but in my humble opinion, he laughably fails. 3.5 out of 5

Best verse- Havoc

My Gats Spitting (Featuring The Infamous Mobb)
I'll already let you know my final rating is largely because of Havoc's beat, which is one of my favorites from him. Lyrically this is nothing special, but that beat seriously knocks. 4 out of 5

Best verse- Havoc

Oh man, not this shake your head worthy, Havoc solo song, smh. I usually skip this damn song, but I ONLY listened to it for this revisit, smh+lol. This was the second attempt at reaching a different audience, and needless to say, it failed miserably, especially with one of Havoc's worst beats, forgettable lyrics, and terrible hook. 1 out of 5

Hey Luv (Anything) Featuring 112
Wow, I guess it was only right to follow up that "Handcuffs" atrocity with the third attempt at commercial success. This worked to a small degree of success, mostly because of the 112 feature, but they only succeeded in alienating their fanbase. Let's move on shall we. Prodigy sounded like he was really into this song oddly enough. 2.5 out of 5

Best verse- Prodigy

The Learning (Burn) Featuring Big Noyd and Vita
Ha, remember Vita, formerly one of the first ladies of Murder Inc. Records? She only provides additional vocals on this one (mostly the hook). Big Noyd steals the show here over Havoc's TIGHT beat (and he also provides a decent verse). And Prodigy? Well, he almost ruins this with his lackluster verse, but make no mistake about it, the beat, hook, and the verses from Havoc and Noyd instantly save this. 4 out of 5

Best verse- Big Noyd

Live Foul (Produced By: Scott Storch)
Some people do live foul, obviously, lol. Silly hook aside, this is a decent song, aside from Havoc sticking to the topic and Prodigy on some other ish, as highlighted in this post. 3 out of 5

Best verse- Havoc

Hurt N*****
I've always liked the beat on this apply titled (tm) song. If you listen (or have listened) closely, you'll hear a (somewhat) subliminal shot at Jay-Z. Prodigy even sounded good on this one. 4 out of 5

Best verse- an even tie

Get At Me (Produced By: The Alchemist)
This has to be the most cinematic beat Alchemist has ever produced, complete with samples from the movie "King Of New York"; Havoc and Prodigy come correct on this one. 4.5 out of 5 (an extra point for this NICE beat)

Best verse- I was going to give this one a tie, but Prodigy is the winner here, by a hair.

I Won't Fall (Produced By: Scott Storch)
This is your standard "you can't keep me down no matter what you do" song, with a Mobb twist. Very good, marking 4 good songs in a row here. 4 out of 5

Best verse- I've give the slight edge to Prodigy here.

This song is notable for two things: a very good Havoc beat and Prodigy's completely half hearted attempt at striking back at Jay-Z, and Jay-Z probably was laughing while "IZZO" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" was receiving frequent spins on radio and TV. 3.5 out of 5 (an extra point for the beat)

Best verse-  Havoc 

Nothing Like Home (Featuring Littles)
The title of this song alone is something I can identify with, and it's possibly the second best song on the album. 4 out of 5

Best verse- Probably Littles

There I Go Again (Featuring Ron Isley, Produced by Scott Storch)
The collaboration with 112 may not have worked on the surface, but Ron Isley's presence here (over a nice Scott Storch beat) is so good you can't deny it. What you can deny is Prodigy's thumbs down verse. 3.5 out of 5 (Prodigy's lines deducts one point)

Best verse(s)- Havoc

*So Long
This bonus track had to have been a dedication of sorts to some individuals close to Havoc and Prodigy. Havoc's verse is good, but Prodigy's more or less sound like a written letter, and that may have been the intent of his verse, so I won't fault him too much for that one. Good album closer. 3.5 out of 5
Best verse- Havoc

Havoc- 9
Prodigy- 4
Tie/guest- 2

Well, it's always good to go back in time and revisit albums, even those that I'm familiar with, like this one. My feelings are still pretty much the same. It hasn't gotten better or worst with time, however, it did mark an end to Mobb Deep, lyrically and creatively, as we knew it. As you can see, Havoc had the best verse on NINE of the songs, plus his production was mostly on point. Prodigy was relatively more miss than hit on this album, and he would remain hit or miss for the rest of his career. Overall, my rating still stands at a solid 3.5 stars.

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