There is usually only so much I can take when listening to thug rap. Sixteen or so tracks of "bustin' my gat," "bangin' this bitch," "smokin' this shit" really starts to wear thin on me.
Enter Mobb Deep, a group that I actually can listen to most of the time due to their amazing production work. It shines through on their classics "The Infamous..." and "Hell on Earth." In the same vein, it left me a little disappointed with "Murda Music." I'll admit, I expected nothing but wackness from "Infamy," mainly due to the lead single featuring 112. Havoc and P seemed to be talking the thug shit, while doing something clearly different, which lowered my expectations for their last album. To my surprise, though, I liked the album a lot.
Which leads me to their new album, "Free Agents: The Murda Mix Tape." Seeing this album would be released through Landspeed with no real major studio backing, I really didn't know what to expect. Luckily, the Infamous Mobb Deep return with some of their best work since their sophomore album.
Starting with the opening track, "Solidified," Mobb Deep really bring the heat, especially production wise. The first six tracks are straight bangers, including the 2003 update of "Survival of the Fittest." While it's normally not a good idea to mess with a classic, the new version comes off sounding very fresh.
In the middle of the opening burners is the lead single, "Double Shots," which is probably Mobb's most danceable track. This isn't a bad thing at all though. The beat has horns the sound disco-retro, but with the grainy bass thrown in, and the Mobb-phonics Infamous-bonics laid down on top, this track is a winner in any facet.
The great tracks continue with "Narcotics," "The Illest" and "Clap First." While the tracks toward the end of the album have a new kind of sound to them, they are definitely still on the high level of production Havoc usually supplies the albums with.
There are some tracks that don't hit the mark, such as the lame and repetitive "Let's Pop" and "It's Over." But the few filler-type tracks don't hold down the rest of the album.
One thing to notice is how Havoc carries most of the lyric-spitting this time around. Prodigy sometimes seems like a guest on his own album. Luckily, Havoc's flow sounds well on every track.
At the end of the album are some "freestyles" over classic Mobb beats and also included with the CD is a bonus disc of collaborations with Mobb Deep and other artists. While I'm not counting these songs in the rating of the album, the inclusion of the disc is just another reason to cop the album. Some songs to look out for are "4th of July," "Thun and Kicko," "Thug Chronicles" and "Bump That," featuring everyone's favorite rapper, 50 Cent.
Overall, Mobb Deep gives the fans what they want, some thug shit to bang in their system. While it's not on the level of their classics, it's definitely very close behind.