Mobb Deep - Blood Money    
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written by Christopher Watkins    
Now many would question "Billion Dollar Budget" Jackson's decision to sign Queens' finest duo in light of recent events within hip-hop. Not only did G-Unit's last offering fall flat, (Tony Yayo's "Thoughts of a Predicate Felon") the industry has been in the midst of a major shift to the warmer climates of the South.

Not since 1998's Murda Muzik has the Infamous been a marketable product, and after the average "Infamy" and the forgettable "Amerika's Nightmare", it seems that the dynamic duo's time had passed. However, after being signed to the G-Unit label, it seems that a return to glory is far off.

Regrettably, the album is more of a reality check for all parties involved, rather than the revival of the hardcore hood stories the Mobb perfected in the 90's. Where did 50, Hav and P go wrong? One has to look at their questionable choice for a single, the sedating "Put Them in Their Place." Looking at the current music landscape, the heavy brass and the tired kill-and-get rich lyrical formula was bound to get the Mobb even fewer spins than their previous outing.

A more appropiate song might have been "Creep", with its chasing melody and one of 50's best verses in years. As a matter of fact, 50 steals the song with his impeccable flow and his quick, jab-like lyrics (never thought you would see that and 50 in the same sentence, did you?), "Cop that, aim that, squeeze that, shoot the steel, Cadillac Coupe Deville, wood grain on the wheel, cocaine in the pot, baking soda, water hot, when the ice cubes drop, look at that, that crack!." Or maybe the feature with Young Buck, "Give It To Me Baby", with it's catchy hook and its belly-dancing beat could find a more receptive audience.

Nevertheless, the bigger problem is the growing schism between the skill of Havoc and Prodigy. Prodigy, who started out with a bang (see: "Shook Ones Pt. II") has been mailing it in since his solo release "H.N.I.C." While it was only slightly apparent on songs "Burn" and "Real Gangstaz", it is drop dead obvious here. Even one of the highlights of the album, the spiritually introspective "Pearly Gates" disapponts for all Prodigy fans. While much fanfare had been made of Prodigy's heavy-handed slap to the man upstairs, the Interscope-enforced censorship seems more of a blessing than a curse, as Prodigy fails to deliver one memorable line in his whole tirade.

In essence, you have to feel for Havoc. Not only does he have to produce much of the Mobb Deep albums, but he has the lyrically carry his partner in crime as well. Maybe its time for Havoc to release his own "H.N.I.C." before it's too late.

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