Prodigy – Return of the Mac    
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written by Michael Diston    
Don't get it twisted. Mobb Deep's Prodigy is not talking about pimping women here. He's referring to the enormous golden Mac 10 that first showed up during the video of "LA, LA" round his neck, and the accompanying state of mind that he was in at the time. Hooking up with Alchemist in what was supposed to double as a mixtape and teaser for his upcoming full-length H.N.I.C Pt. 2, Return of the Mac kind of blew up into a little collaborative album of its own. So fuck whatever neo-soul, rhythm and blues shit you're currently listening to - download, buy or steal Return of the Mac, and pump up the volume.

I don't know why I've just ‘styled on' a couple of other genres above; put that's the kind of mood Prodigy's latest release puts me in. It's often sparse, regularly funky, always sinister and fills you up with a totally infectious "fuck-you-I'll-murder-your-moms" type attitude that a white boy like me just shouldn't have. There are a few main reasons why the record works so well. First of all, it's short. Fourteen tracks (really ten if you minus the skits and intro) makes for a sharp collection which rarely bores, and keeps the listener hitting repeat. Second, he went to Alchemist instead of Havoc. Now, don't get me wrong, I recognise Havoc as one of the best to ever do it, but right now, Alchemist is unstoppable. Could Havoc create a track as grimy as "Stuck on You" only to complement it with a perfectly chopped vocal sample? Well, probably, but Alchemist can do it better. And third, Prodigy is seemingly off whatever drugs he was on, and lyrically, has improved. Not back to his best, but back to good – no matter how much I enjoyed his half-assed lines like "you listen to jerk music".

The first three tracks that kick off the album are probably the three best that you'll find, a stellar intro to a top-notch comeback. "Return of the Mac" (also known by many as "NY Shit") finds Pee over muffled horns and wailing 70's funk guitars spitting straight fire like: "Niggas get mad, I pop in the clip/ and pop for the symbol on their New York fit/ With a rusty gun, but the shit still spit/ Rubber bands on the handle, the New York grip". The aforementioned "Stuck on You" is probably the most conventional Alchemist track one would find on ROTM, and may at first appear to be a track for the ladies. Fuck no, it's about how Prodigy loves his guns so much, and if you don't believe me, check out the awesome video that's up on Youtube. Alchemist chooses a great vocal sample for the hook ("I'm stuck to you, just like glue") and plodding drums with hovering organs that positively bangs through the speakers. The fine trio is complete with the "single" (and for mea track that could take the crown as best Hip-Hop song of the year) "Mac 10 Handle". With almost bongo like percussion, shuffling hi-hats and crisp handclaps, it conjures up images of severe paranoia – for what reason remains unknown – and the story of Prodigy hunting down and murdering an unidentified dude. He probably deserved it. The imagery is fantastic, and really demonstrates how Prodigy is back to his best – "Gotta watch what I say/ they tapping my cell phone/ they wanna sneak and peak, inside of my home/I'm paranoid/ and its not the weed/ in my rear-view mirror these cars they follow me/ so I bust rights and lefts, lefts and rights, till I stop seeing those Impala headlights".

While the album did get a little stale towards the end, it wasn't due to the lyrics, and it definitely grew on me. Tracks like "Bang On ‘Em" and "Nickel and a Nail" are great examples of solid, balanced production that never overpower Prodigy, while "Legends" gives time to for Pee to pay his respects to pioneers like Jam Master Jay and re-tell his rise in the rap game from childhood to becoming a legend himself through his work with Mobb Deep. Prodigy kept it consistent on this one – something he has struggled to do with both his solo tracks, and recent work with Mobb Deep. Hopefully he can continue to regain and build on his highly regarded status with H.N.I.C 2, and with Havoc and Alchemist behind him; I'd say he has a damn good shot.

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