Americaz Nightmare

Artist: Mobb DeepTitle: Americaz NightmareRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Matt Barone

Weathering the hip-hop game’s always-turbulent storm for ten years, Queensbridge projects’ proud soldiers Mobb Deep return to their original grimy form on their sixth album, Amerikaz Nightmare (Jive). While many bickered about 2001’s Infamy sounding slightly watered-down with its assists from Lil’ Mo and 112, this time around Havoc and Prodigy recapture the urban darkness and glorified thug music that made them one of rap’s most celebrated groups upon release of their classic 1995 opus The Infamous. No R&B hooks, no obvious radio single, and no weak filler are heard on Amerikaz Nightmare, as Hav and P deliver a record that easily holds its own as some of the tandem’s best work to date.

Beginning with stormy electric guitars on the moody opener “Amerikaz Nightmare,” the hardcore sounds never let up. Lyrically, Hav and P remain consistently able to match the production’s intensity, whether they are saluting their dogs on “Real Niggaz” or spitting violent narratives on the eerie “On The Run.” The Jadakiss-assisted heater “One Of Ours Part II” sports Havoc in top form, spitting graphic visuals like, “Pick you up, off your feet like a fork lift/ But instead it’s the four-fifth,” while Prodigy commends his Mobb music on “Get Me” with, “Everytime they cop from somebody else, that shit’s wack/ That shit there is doo doo, this shit here is crack.”

As far as production, Amerikaz Nightmare is one of the year’s most blazing audio experiences. “Shorty Wop” finds Havoc blasting bouncy synthesizers through the speakers, while “Neva Change” is an instant head-nodder courtesy of Hav’s frantic horns and pounding percussion. Kanye West serves his darkest instrumental in recent memory with the violin and guitar driven “Throw Your Hands (In The Air),” and Lil Jon’s abrasive crunk on “Real Gangstaz” fits the gully bars of Mobb Deep perfectly. Longtime Mobb collaborator Alchemist laces Amerikaz Nightmare with three incredible beats, most notably the alarming ‘When U Hear The” and the masterfully chopped-up vocal samples heard on the thumping “Win or Lose.”

With Southern energy and soft rap ballads dominating the airwaves these days, Mobb Deep convincingly drives hip-hop’s flag through the concrete streets of New York City on with this collection of “murda music.” The careers of Havoc and Prodigy seem to have come full circle in 2004, with this scorcher of an album seeing release nearly a decade after their Infamous introduction to the world. Devoted Mobb fans will rejoice, while ignorant sleepers will wake up once Amerikaz Nightmare concludes. Don’t get it twisted; the Mobb is stronger than ever.