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16 December, 2003@12:00 am

   While there is little argument that Mobb Deep is past its prime, there still remains a core fanbase built upon the classic Infamous Mobb Deep LP, which extended in both directions - backwards to Juvenile Hell and forwards all the way up to Infamous Allegiance. And while they aren’t as popular as they once were, the die-hard fans still flock to related releases from extended crew members such as Littles, Infamous Mobb, and Big Noyd. Noyd built a little buzz with his Tommy Boy debut, Episodes Of A Hustler, but after not breaking any sales records, it’s taken a good seven years for a follow-up to be released. Now with the indy movement in full-swing, Noyd teams up with executive producer, The Alchemist, to deliver Only The Strong, hot off the heals of his “best of..” mix, Armed and Dangerous, which dropped a month earlier. 

     Listening to Only The Strong, it’s evident why this album has taken so long to see the light of day, with the most fault lying in Rapper Noyd’s vocals. Extending seventeen tracks, rarely does Noyd change up his subject matter from guns and murder, a fault that even the average trigger-happy emcee, such as 50 Cent, can get past when they want to. This comes as no surprise considering the crew he rolls with, but unlike Hav and P, the clever moments in his lines are few and far in between. 

     But thanks to that crew, Big Noyd is blessed with some better-than-average and even, at times, some great beats. Alchemist hooks up  Shoot Em Up (Bang Bang) Pt. 1  and Shoot ‘em Up (Bang) Pt. 2 lovely, two gun clap anthems brilliantly built off of samples from The Deele and The Intruders, respectively. Havoc shows improvement on the opener “Watch Out” as well as the dark “We Gangsta”, while hot newcomer Sebb shines on the PMD featured “Going Right At ‘Em”, after lacing High & Mighty with two of the hottest beats on The Highlight Zone. These tracks will be enough to get you through the day, however it’s missteps such as “That Fire”, “Invincible”, and “That Kid Is Nice”, which really pollute the remainder of the LP. 

     All in all, its Big Noyd’s vocals that trouble this record, which is almost inexcusable, given the fact that he’s had more than half-a-decade to fine tune his rhymes, especially considering the company he keeps. Noyd’s sophomore release is average east coast gangsta rap, which should be reserved for “only the strongest” of Mobb Deep’s fans and followers.

  Mixtape D.L.
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