When Prodigy of Mobb Deep was incarcerated on gun possession charges, it seemed as though the legendary group was all about done. After a classic entry into the game in the 90’s, the Queensbridge duo had since been on the decline, commercially and critically. And after a brief and failed stint with G-Unit, this prison sentence seemed like the final blow to the tired collective. However, upon release earlier this year, Prodigy and Mobb Deep went right back to work, business as usual. The Black Cocaine EP quickly gained buzz and questions from listeners wondering if the two could still, for lack of a better term, bring it.
It was a fair question, as Havoc has been the only one of the two continuing to make music (scarcely) and thus, stay sharp. Not to mention the fact of not having a label, not having worked with each other professionally in a couple of years, and possibly, not having the age. Things are looking quite dark for Mobb Deep. But that’s what has brought them success over the years; dark music. The EP starts off with “Dead Man’s Shoes,” a dark, murky introduction. While the beat brings back familiar tones, the lyrics are average and neither the two, nor guest Bounty Killa, seems to find their appropriate place on the track.
Still though, the mood is set. Which serves as a bridge to the second, and better, song, “Black Cocaine.” Produced by long-time collaborator The Alchemist, the Mobb sounds comfortable over the usual cerebral sounds matched by their low buzz of intense rhymes. On the first cut, the duo sounds incredibly aged and partially out of touch with the art. But it’s almost as if that was nothing more than a ‘warm-up shot’, as the EP begins to take its form after.
As if they knew this was the case, the triumphant “Conquer” plays next. Behind stirring horns, you can hear their confidence building on the record, proclaiming they “Overpower and crush” any and all competition. But truthfully, they have not done so yet. With three songs that have so far totaled a passing grade, Mobb Deep has yet to be exceptional here. A flash of this is shown on the fourth record, “Get It Forever,” boasting another Alchemist instrumental, and Nas feature. The angry clashing of drums and groaning sample in the backdrop bring out the best of Havoc and P, (“Beat so ugly gotta put a f*cking mask on it”) and allow Nas to bob & weave with a deadly flow (“But you know this already/ My hood the coldest and deadly”).
The best showing for Mobb Deep fans happened in the above mentioned track. The final song on the EP is appropriately titled, “Last Days”. Though sometimes more than others, the group sounds their age, something that’s inevitable, and it’s clear that the upcoming LP may be the last hurrah for the infamous duo. But this is nothing to be criticized for. After seeing many fan favorites limp out of the game, it’s refreshing to see Mobb Deep still able to maintain in their lane. I’m not sure if we’ll get another Infamous or Murda Muzik, but we’ll get a couple of highlights. Something that’ll make the older heads happy, and maybe even impress some of the little “duns.”