Artist: ProdigyTitle: Return Of The MacRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios
From sickle cell anemia to malicious ballerina pictures, Prodigy of Mobb Deep has endured a lot since the conception of the Dunn language. Compared to his long time partner in rhyme Havoc, P’s lyrics have always represented the darker mind state of the duo. His slept on 2000 solo album HNIC spawned street gems such as “Keep It Thoro” but failed to garner any plaques. Now fresh off the group’s commercially disappointing debut on G-Unit, Capital P reemerges on Return of the Mac (Koch). Entirely produced by the Alchemist, the title is a clear reference to P’s heavy duty firearm approach to the album. Taking note from Rae’s Mafioso classic, Bandanna P and ALC adopt the AKA’s of notorious mobsters Bumpy Johnson and Dutch Shultz, respectively, for a unified effort.
On the opener and title track Prodigy goes in hard. He pays ode to the gritty New York day to day script by namedropping street essentials such as orange box cutters and seals the deal by implementing bars from B.I.G.’s timeless MSG freestyle for hook purposes. Johnson continues waving the East Coast flag on “Rotten Apple,” painting a vivid picture of his rigid no mercy upbringing in QB over fittingly somber production. P Double is at his best on “Mac 10 Handle,” though. Alchemist lifts some gritty drums and a steamy bass riff to provide a seedy musical backdrop. Prodigy gives the listener a very raw look into his killer train of thought with a double dose of paranoia: “By myself in my four cornered room watching Hard Boiled/I feel like I’m crazy.”
With one producer on the boards for the entire project, generally speaking, Mac is isolated to one overall sound. Inspired by the 70’s Blaxploitation era, ALC leans heavy on old soul records for his sample menu. While the beats are still worthy of checking out from a soundscape point, by the time you get to the songs at the end like “Bang On ‘Em,” and “Nickel And A Nail” they start to sound dull. Additionally, P falls short with unfocused bars (“I got Leann Rimes passing me the weed son”) on the “I Got Cha Opin Remix” (Black Moon) reinterpretation that is “Stop Fronting.” Heaters like “What’s Popping Dunn?” (Probably Ps hardest effort in a couple of calendars) originally featured on S.M.A.C.K. DVD 12 are also missing from the tape.
Overall Return Of The Mac is really a respectable effort. Prodigy and ALC obviously make a dangerous team in the studio but pigeonhole themselves with an at times repetitive project. Hopefully their weapon of choice next time will be sleeker.