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Mobb Deep "Blood Money" [review]

Let me get this out the way first: I was surprised at how much I am feeling this new Mobb album, Blood Money. I was surprised when first hearing that Hav & P signed with 50 Cent's G-Unit Records, because they were getting dissed by him on that "Piggy Bank" track. Mobb has always been shitted on, so I think they took it on the chin... but they are really RIDING for 50! I mean they are assuming beefs, getting G-Unit tats on their skin, etc., so it has to be serious. Queens connect.

Don't get it twisted, though: this is a win-win for both sides. The Infamous get a pass to blow their following worldwide, having niggas in Bahrain rockin' to "Put 'Em In Their Place", and they might hit that stardom they were just hoping for. 50 gets some more cred in the street, which, no matter what anyone tries to tell me, that nigga needs. 50 turned into the most hated when he started dominating the game, which is to be expected for anyone in that position. In any case, G-Unit gets a pretty solid crew, and Mobb gets the loot to really make a quality record. The ? Remainz: is Blood Money that quality?

Yes and no. I mean, I never thought I'd hear Havoc reference himself as "Hollywood Hav"... that's not real ghetto, you feel me? And there are times when not only does 50 contribute mad choruses for this album (direct and indirect), but both V.I.P. and Havoc mimic his style (peep how P rocks his verse on "Backstage Pass" -- remedial much?). It's funny though, b/c 50 used to crack on Jadakiss about his choruses, saying that Jada doesn't even have a hit with his own voice on the chorus. Is 50 doing your hooks the way to get to multi-plat status? You betcha. Anyways, there isn't too much G-Unit guest rhymes, aside from a bunch of 50 shots. Yayo and Buck show up for some pretty snooze worthy tracks ("Click Click" and the "Just A Lil' Bit"-sounding "Give It To Me", respectively). Lloyd jumps on the heater "Stole Something", which works a pretty rugged beat: all bass and tight, crisp drums running underneath some ominous organs. Tracks like this and the aforementioned "Put 'Em..." are drive-by music. No metaphor; this is some shit you can put on and live a violent life by. "Creep", which features an odd sounding 50 verse, has a hot sample running over top a heavy kick and clap beat, documenting situations where niggas gotta creep. "Capital P, Capital H" is another favorite: straight futuristic G-funk sounding shit. P and Hav establish their credentials over this smooth track, to perfection. The only Alchemist beat on here is the old school drenched "The Infamous", which has a 50 chorus on it as well. The ALC-Mobb combo has always been perfect, I just wish Alc got more joints on this one. Oh well.

Arguably, the best and most talked about track on this album is "Pearly Gates", which has some darts thrown at, well, God and his son. 50's chorus sets it up, but it's deceiving. 50 is basically speaking on how slick he is; he's so slick that even if he makes it to hell, if you get him to heaven's gate, he will be able to talk his way in, b/c hell, he talked his way out the hood. Hav's verses are throwaway, but P comes with some anti-religious heat. I felt his verse when I heard this on promo months ago, but on this copy, P's verse is reversed when he speaks about God, the Lord, whatever you want to call it. I mean if you check the XXL post on this track, you can peep the full lyrics, but I just have to wonder why they did that. Dr. Dre has smacked women, Eminem has murked his wife and killed his mom, but P can't express his feelings about God and his predicament on Earth? Poor move. That Exile beat is murder though, straight murder.

I do enjoy listening to this record, and at times it's got some serious heat. I do wish however that 50's hand was out of the cookie jar more. The end of the CD also seems like a wash, including the "Outta Control Remix"'s inclusion - the only reason I can see that being necessary is for the TRL head who has to be like, "Oh, THIS IS MOBB DEEP!" And why throw a random Mary J. Blige appearance on it? If you have been a fan of Mobb's from jump, you'll find something to rock to. If you are a G-Unit soldier, you will definitely memorize this one ASAP. Don't pick this up expecting The Infamous, though. And, on a personal level, I don't think I need to hear Havoc rhyme anymore. He speaks to some anonymous old school heads, making comments about not caring "if you pioneered rap"; who's he shooting at?

In any case, this album does what it was manufactured to do: it gives people some rugged ghetto swaggar, hot beats for the spring/summer crowd, and a huge dose of thug muzik. I will not be surprised if Mobb pull some serious loot in for their work here, and I will not be mad at them if they do. They have been doing this shit for a while, and it is much deserved. Would I have rather they gotten to that level by staying true to themselves? Of course. I guess getting new Porsches from 50 will make you do some strange shit, though.

rock the dub rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Mobb Deep's Blood Money is out in stores on May 2nd, 2006. Check out their website for more information.
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