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Nobody really knows what went on behind the scenes between Havoc and Prodigy that culminated in a very public beef that took place a few years back on the Twitter stage. However with P’s incarceration and the group’s falling out, it’s been eight years since the group’s last album together, 2006’s Blood Money. With all of that in the past, the duo put their differences aside to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the recording of their Loud debut, The Infamous, by releasing the similarly titled double-disc effort, The Infamous Mobb Deep, with more than enough music to make up for lost time.

Usually over-stuffed, two-disc releases suffer from an output of too much material. But The Infamous Mobb Deep is unique in the fact that the second disc is made up of newly discovered sessions from the original 1994 recordings of The Infamous LP for Loud, almost acting like a separate album. The second disc is a reminder of the group’s consistency; captured lightning in a bottle, if you will. But the highlight of The Infamous Mobb Deep is actually the new album itself, which finds a reinvigorated Mobb Deep. Disc two is merely a victory lap.

It became evident last year on both Havoc’s 13 LP and Prodigy’s Albert Einstein LP with Alchemist that these two were back with a vengeance, and the same can be said for their reunion LP. Hav’s slightly more grounded lyrical approach balances perfectly with P’s off-kilter, psychotic confessions. This is how it should be.

In addition to their dark, visually gritty street tales, the production is something that has always been consistent with Mobb Deep, and that remains true still twenty years later. Havoc proved on 13 that he doesn’t really need any help in that department, but isn’t afraid to outsource here either, sharing production duties with Illmind and Alchemist, among others.

Hav’s contributions aren’t the strongest the album has to offer, however are the most solidly consistent, which is almost a metaphor for the Mobb’s career as a whole. Songs like “Taking You Off Here”, “Lifetime, and “Gimmie All That” don’t aim to be the album’s biggest or most boastful tracks, but provide a solid backbone for the rest of the album to stand on. No filler here.

Its when they switch things up a bit from their traditional sound do we really find the most impressive moments, simply because you aren’t expecting them. The Beat Butcha helmed “Timeless” is a gorgeous, drum-propelled track that sounds like the possible outcome of a Mobb Deep / RJD2 collaboration. “All A Dream” plays like a classy, post-Whodini after party jam that’s driven by a Biggie sample, brought to you by Om’Mas Keith of Sa-Ra. Later on “Legendary”, Hav teams with Boi-1da and The Maven Boys, alongside Juicy J and Bun B, to defy preconceived notions on a posse cut built upon the illest of loops. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

Much of the rest of the album plays strong throughout, save the one attempt at a crossover track, “Low”, with NYC crooner Mack Wilds. This tale of infidelity’s clean polish simply doesn’t fit with the rest of the LP’s dark, brooding soundscape. The other stinker here, “Henny (Remix)” is only a bonus track, as Mack Wilds recycles the “Burn” instrumental and adds in an obnoxious verse from French Montana. Sadly, this track will probably get the most airplay from the LP. But who can complain when Alchemist produces the other two bonus tracks, and one is featuring Nas?

On to the second disc, it’s almost hard to go back to that mindset of their early years after they’ve delivered such a solid, modern LP here. But this disc delivers gold by the pound, kicking off with a never-heard-before remix of “Eye For An Eye”, featuring Nas, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon. There’s some familiarity here in parts of the lyrics and the beat itself, but damn if this isn’t instantly classic.

Many of the other tracks leaked out via the Infamous Mobb Deep demo tape that has been floating around for the last decade, but here we get them in pristine studio quality (and at the right pitch). What’s crazy is that even with some similar titles, these new-old renditions of classic tracks like “Gimmie The Goods”, “Survival Of The Fittest” or “Temperature’s Rising” are completely different recordings. Talk about creative output.

Ultimately what The Infamous Mobb Deep accomplishes is that it shows that the group has still got it. The two discs present two distinct eras of Havoc and Prodigy, both of which are great for different reasons. As one track states in the title, Mobb Deep will truly “Get It Forever”.

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7 Responses to "Mobb Deep – “The Infamous Mobb Deep” – @@@@ (Review)"
  • Boogie Bored says:

    wow Bitchfork gave this album a perfect 10. But it says “best new reissue”. not a reissue retards.

  • Battlehound says:

    Very disappointed with the album. I found taking you off here to be the only track that’s mobb deep worthy. The rest of the album I’m very sad to say is sub par. It really does sound like cast offs from thier other more recent albums. The new burn rendition henny is terrible. Blood money is better than this album IMO
    I’m a huge mobb fan don’t get me wrong. The lost infamous cuts are fantastic and that does play like a ’95 lp. Can’t front there. That’s worth my money.
    I’m looking forward to the hell on earth redux.
    Mobb will always be in my heart and I’m still listening to this album but it’s how I feel

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