On The Grind

Artist: Big NoydTitle: On The GrindRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jayson Rodriguez

As a frequent guest of Havoc and Prodigy’s, Big Noyd is always good for a hot 16 on a Mobb Deep track. But while his high-energy flow provides a balance between the murderous duo, Noyd’s rhymes are often too scattered to hold together an entire song or album by himself. With his third effort, On The Grind (Noyd, Inc./Monopolee), the Queensbridge rapper finally provides a sonically cohesive and focused assault worthy of hosting his own company.

Although Noyd has never been as lyrically menacing or chilling as Hav and P, he flourishes once his observational wit meets his lively delivery and throaty vocals. Such as the case when a rejuvenated Prodigy joins him for the Mobb-boasting cuts “Most Famous” and “Louder.” On the latter, Noyd is remorseful yet fully aware of his reality. “I’m trying to change and flip my ways, but not my techniques,” he raps over The Alchemist’s muffled drums and stirring keys. And on the bouncy Havoc-helmed “Ain’t Too Much” Noyd playfully sneers: “Got the whole world saying dun ‘cause they all want to be us.” Infamous indeed.

Guest appearances aside, however, Noyd delivers all the same even without his duns. “Trust ‘Em” and the cautionary “Young And Thuggin” finds the QB vet connecting with Ric Rude who, along with a Masberg selection, handles the boards for the few non-Havoc produced songs. The two lace Noyd with gritty sounds that blend in with the overall landscape of the album. These are also the brief moments where Noyd casts himself as much more than a Mobb knockoff. Like on the soulful Rude-assisted “All My Peoples” where Noyd is both boastful (“I’ll never be on MTV with P.Diddy/ The reality life I live too real for TV”) and bashful (“And be a Robin Hood and not robbing the ‘hood”).

Even with solid production and Noyd’s energetic voice, occasional missteps like the clunky chorus of “Hoodie Like Dat” slow down the album’s progression. Not to mention the cheap skits that simply fall flat. And while Noyd never really opens up beyond a line or quick verse worth of insight into what makes him tick, like other Queensbridge alums, he manages to bring you in without putting too much out. With On the Grind, Noyd’s hustle has paid off.