Blood Money

Artist: Mobb DeepTitle: Blood MoneyRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Martin A. Berrios

Even though Mobb Deep gained enormous street fame in the 90's with their classic The Infamous, the Queensbridge duo have never quite lived up to that earlier greatness on subsequent releases. They showed hints of again reaching their potential here and there on Hell On Earth and Murda Muzik, but didn’t serve up the thorough follow-ups needed to keep their cult status granite solid. With their last album, Amerikaz Nightmare, Progidy and Havoc were met with another lukewarm response. In customary scorned rapper fashion, they blamed the label and bounced. With a new free agent status in place, 50 Cent scooped the boys up in ‘05 and made them G-Unit's first official signing outside the Interscope family tree. The result is Blood Money (Infamous/G-Unit/Interscope); Mobb's strongest batch of work since they laced us with "Quiet Storm".

Overall P and Hav don’t stray too far from their distinctive formula. The hood drama meets gritty production on the album's first single "Put Em In Their Place". Sha Money XL cooks up blazing horns to match the group’s stern demeanor. On "Capital P, Capital H" they justify their unbecoming ways over a laid back distorted bass track laced with synth. On "Pearly Gates" the Mobb shows deeper range as they take an atheist view at life with a show stealing verse from 50 Cent. All three Queens natives converse skeptically over a playful soul sample driven track. Havoc’s bars ultimately put the writing on the wall: "I found myself asking God what the fuck is my purpose/You go to heaven, know I’m foul but put a good word in."

Sonically, the album keeps an overall dark overtone. On "Speakin So Freely" Havoc lays some eerie guitar strings over some soft drum kicks, setting a proper backdrop for the Mobb's thinly veiled diss to some of their former homeys. H continues showcasing his production prowess when utilizing speedy high hats and kicks with an awkward noise about every two bars on the Lloyd Banks assisted "Stole Something". The distorted bass heavy “Backstage Pass” is sure to get maximum love on the block as well.

With what seems to be a necessarily evil amongst rappers, Mobb fall into the trap of forcing a radio friendly hit. "Hollywood" Hav and "V.I." P try to recreate the magic of 50’s "Candy Shop" with "Give It To Me"; but fail to connect. Even a verse from Young Buck couldn’t save this joint.

While this technically doesn't feel like a true Mobb Deep effort (the G-Unit influence is obvious throughout the disc-where's Noyd?), Blood Money still bangs. This album is sure to push Mobb Deep back to the forefront. Curtis wins again.