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by Christopher Yuscavage
26 January, 2005@12:00 am
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      Big Noyd, like some of his Queensbridge counterparts Littles, Infamous Mobb, and even Illa Ghee, is a rapper trying to crack into the upper echelon of QB - a starting lineup that currently consists of emcees like Nas, Prodigy, Cormega, Havoc, and even Alchemist to a certain recent extent. Breaking into hip-hop with his mid-90s EP, Episodes of A Hustla, and eventually returning in 2003 with his debut full-length, Only The Strong, Noyd has been the recipient of many a guest appearance due to his close ties with the Mobb Deep family. And while On the Grind continues both conceptually and personnel-wise down the Mobb Deep/Queensbridge path, Noyd grinds his way to a solo effort that puts him atop the current Queensbridge B-list emcee chain with hopes of grinding even further up.

     Though one-third of On the Grind is a Havoc-only opus, which surprisingly sees Hav shelving his dark side for less worthy production efforts, Ric Rude laces together a string of strong production cues that favor the hustle-hard QB mentality. The catchy Isley Brothers sample on “Everybody” surrounds Noyd as he wills himself on with, “Whether it’s with a pad and a pen, a ball and a rim, or a strip pitchin’ the raw, The boy gon’ win.” Later, Noyd fills in the tales of a drug deal gone wrong on “Young and Thuggin’,” where Rude seems to have tailored his production style to the Queensbridge feel (something that Havoc, unfortunately, runs dry with at times). The rock-tinged Masberg production on “Rush” only reaffirms that On the Grind is in fact a true Queensbridge record, as Noyd’s ferocious energy rips through guitar licks like a bullet through cold air. The lone Alchemist project for Noyd appears in the form of the boom bap-meets-pianos “Louder,” where Prodigy joins Noyd in busting off their mouths about busting off their guns. And another P and Noyd hook-up occurs on “Most Famous,” where the two prove that taking shots at the generic “fake gangsta” is as fun as it ever has been in the Mobb Deep family.

      Not all is guns-for-glory with Noyd though as Havoc provides one of the sole happy-go-lucky production efforts with “Off the Wall,” the only track that sounds as though it’s seeking any club action. With a little clapping (of the hands sort, not of the guns sort) and some chimes from Hav’s library, the Mobb and Noyd pay homage to the thick thighs and pretty faces of all the ladies “that can get it.” The generic posse cut that is “Money Rolls,” the lifeless Havoc production “Infamous Team” (which ironically shows that maybe Hav should stick to the mic for awhile), and the third P and Noyd track “Kill Dat There” all grow tedious with the usual QB gangsta chatter that only the Queensbridge “duns” have grown to love continuously.

     “Don’t run with the herd, they go right, you go left,” Big Noyd raps on the album’s swan song, “Trust Em” - advice that he himself does not even really take. Noyd opts to use the same QB formula that has taken so many other Bridge emcees to the top of the game. But with a Grind this serious, it’s hard to imagine him not cracking his New York neighborhood’s starting lineup before he gives up the hustle.

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