January 4, 2009

Mobb Deep - Blood Money (May 2, 2006)


Once upon a time, there was a man named Curtis Jackson. He believed himself to be the newly-crowned prince of hip hop, and thanks to his consistent record sales (as much as Max hates to draw attention to the fact, both Get Rick or Die Tryin' and The Massacre were massive global blockbusters), all of the most powerful men in all of the music industry helped to solidify his perception.

Curtis had already brought all of his friends into the industry, in the form of his crew G-Unit, and they, too, found success (well, to a point: did anybody actually purchase Tony Yayo's solo album?). One of the members of his camp turned traitor and defected, opting instead to friend his leader's enemies on Facebook, but Curtis remained determined to take over hip hop completely. He decided that one way to reach his goal was to sign as many artists as he possibly could to his vanity label, G-Unit Records, with the help of his bottomless checking account, funded by Interscope.

While he also went the traditional route of signing unknowns to become part of his army (none of whom have seen an album release date as of this writing), Curtis also elected to track down two already-established rap duos, hoping that his newfound clout would translate into both street credibility and mainstream success for the acts involved. The first duo was M.O.P., who graciously accepted the money but ultimately recorded nothing (save for a handful of singles) for the G-Unit, opting instead to go the independent path (although they're still technically signed to the label). The other duo was Mobb Deep. Curtis was from the same neck of the woods as Havoc and Prodigy, and had even worked with them in the past (on the track "Bump That", recorded during the days of the Curtis Jackson mixtape onslaught, post-nine-shots but pre-Get Rick or Die Tryin'). He felt that hearing Mobb Deep get their music played on the radio was a brilliant idea (because, honestly, who hasn't thought about using songs such as "Shook Ones Part II" and "Quiet Storm" to advertise cars, jewelry, and vacuum cleaners...oh, wait, I just saw a Puff Daddy commercial for his cologne that actually features "Quiet Storm", so scratch that last comment), and signed the duo as soon as they could get out of their Jive Records contract, a less-than-fruitful agreement that only produced one album, the ill-received Amerikaz Nightmare.

Curtis tested the waters by having Mobb Deep appear on a remix to his "Outta Control", and once that became a moderate hit, signed off on the budget for Havoc and Prodigy's Blood Money, their G-Unit debut and seventh album overall. Both men also received brand new cars, in lieu of royalty points or anything that could actually be useful for the future of their children. In return, Mobb Deep proved their loyalty for their new family by enveloping themselves completely, and Prodigy even got a G-Unit tattoo somewhere on one of his hands, which is utterly ridiculous, but whatever.

Half of Blood Money's production comes from the usual suspects for a Mobb Deep album, Havoc himself and The Alchemist (who handles only one song), but the other half are all from outsiders. (One of those outsiders, Dr. Dre, was supposed to contribute "Nightmares", an track that was promoted heavily in pre-release interviews but was ultimately deleted when Dre himself wasn't happy with the final product.) The disc was met with almost universal derision by critics, bloggers, and fans alike. It appears that the last thing that anybody wanted to hear was Havoc and Prodigy sacrificing their well-established identities in order to fit into the generic cookie-cutter piffle Curtis Jackson's G-Unit was synonymous with. Sales were dismal, and Curtis withdrew all support for his new signees. Although, as a duo, they're also still signed to G-Unit, the Mobb have elected to part ways temporarily, recording solo albums under different labels, although they haven't yet broken up as a group. Prodigy's current jail sentence doesn't seem to have limited his output any, though: the man released at least two solo albums in 2008 alone.

Here's Blood Money, in all of its glory.

1. SMOKE IT
Well, there's no rap album intro, so that's nice. This beat is really fucking weak, but at least Havoc sounds like he wants to be seen as a rapper. Prodigy's rhymes are so juvenile and ridiculous that you may be tempted to skip to the nest song right when he starts his verse. Your instincts would be dead on.

2. PUT 'EM IN THEIR PLACE
"Hollywood" Havoc and "V.I." P opt to completely erase any fond memories you may have had regarding The Infamous, Hell On Earth, or even possibly Murda Muzik by providing us a song that would have been beneath them fourteen years prior, but today, fits them like a glove, since they both sound like they would rather roll around in Curtis Jackson's money than rap.

3. STOLE SOMETHING (FEAT LLOYD BANKS)
I'm capable of ignoring the fact that Lloyd Banks is on the song and not, say, Rapper Noyd, or anyone else in the Mobb Deep camp, but the ill-conceived hook takes me out of the movie completely. And, side note for Prodigy: nobody is buying your Hollywood persona, but that might be a good thing where your career is concerned, since your street cred would be below zero instead of simply hovering at the bottom.

4. CREEP (FEAT 50 CENT)
The beat sounds clever for exactly four seconds, but then you realize that the entire song sounds like that, with no real variation to speak of. Hearing Curtis rhyme made me remember several interviews regarding his signing of Mobb Deep, beaming proudly as if he was doing them a favor. Hey, Curtis, shouldn't you be checking up on the status of the Mash Out Posse?

5. SPEAKING SO FREELY
I can't imagine that Hav and P could ever listen to Blood Money and truly believe their music would appeal to any audience at this point. Maybe older white guys who are trying to look cool and hip to their sixteen-year-old hottie babysitters, but even they would have better taste than this.

6. BACKSTAGE PASS (FEAT 50 CENT)
The K-Lassik Beats instrumental (goofy name, by the way) is a decent impersonation of early Timbaland. And while neither Havoc nor Prodigy would ever truly sound comfortable over a Timbo beat (although they have been on at least one, a remix to some Lil' Kim song that I can't remember the title to at the moment), it's still very aggravating that they elect to waste the beat on some random fuckery (literally, as they're talking about groupies). Prodigy also needs to get off of his knees and stop sucking the G-Unit cock. You'll understand what I'm talking about when you hear this garbage. Or, better yet, don't.

7. GIVE IT TO ME (FEAT YOUNG BUCK)
A lot of folks believe Young Buck to be the best artist out of the G-Unit camp (at least, before he was kicked out in 2008). You couldn't figure out why after listening to his bullshit verse on here. Did you realize that both The Infamous and Hell On Earth are considered to be classic rap albums (and not just by Max)? One consistent trait that I found on both albums was that there were no songs for the ladies. Coincidence? Profile's beat isn't without merit, but seriously, guys, what the hell?

8. CLICK CLICK (FEAT TONY YAYO)
Having the fifty-seven year old Tony Yayo on your song is usually never a good (or even reasonable) selling point, so I'm convinced that this track was a contractual obligation (Curtis wanted to go to the gym and didn't want Yayo following him around with his yapping, like the big dog and the little dog from those early Warner Bros. cartoons).

9. PEARLY GATES (FEAT 50 CENT)
One thing I hate (only one thing?) is when a song is centered around a certain theme, and one rapper decides to spit random stupid shit instead of following the topic. As this song is about Havoc and Prodigy's concerns regarding religion and the concept of heaven (awfully deep for late-career Mobb Deep, in my opinion), Curtis unsurprisingly rhymes about his guns and his bullets. For only the millionth time, Curtis ruins the song, which fucking sucks, because both Hav and P sound great, even with all of Prodigy's blasphemous lines censored out by the label. (You may be better off tracking down the uncensored version on the Interweb, but Curtis is still on the song, so it's your funeral.)

10. CAPITAL P, CAPITAL H (FEAT NYCE)
Yayo referred to Prodigy as "Las Vegas P" earlier, and that name pops up again here, but I'm blissfully unaware of anything that Prodigy has done to warrant such a lame-ass moniker.

11. DAYDREAMIN'
The Chad Beatz instrumental and the rhymes which accompany it make this track not a bad one at all, but you shouldn't have to listen to ten fucking songs before you get to one that's halfway decent.

12. THE INFAMOUS (FEAT 50 CENT)
Not unlike how he did on Amerikaz Nightmare, producer The Alchemist provides the best track on Blood Money with "The Infamous". While it sounds a bit uncharacteristic of Al, the track still sounds pretty good, as long as you can look past the asinine hook by Curtis, who can't resist name-dropping his own fucking crew when he's supposed to be giving Mobb Deep their props. Kudos to Prodigy for addressing his family's dance school, albeit in an incredibly sexist way.

13. IN LOVE WITHJ THE MOULA
Thanks to the title, the metaphor this song is going for beats you in the fucking face with the sledgehammer of subtlety. I'm actually more upset with the spelling of "moula" in the title, since it looks awkward, and doesn't everyone spell it "moolah"? Even for rappers, that spelling looks strange.

14. IT'S ALRIGHT (FEAT 50 CENT & MARY J. BLIGE)
Wow, this was unnecessary. However, Curtis hardly does anything on here, so it's not the worst Mobb Deep song ever or anything, and having Mary sing her own verse was a nice touch. But I'll be damned if I can remember anything about this track five minutes from now.

The final two songs are supposed to be bonus tracks.

15. HAVE A PARTY (FEAT 50 CENT & NATE DOGG)
Nate Dogg appearing on a Mobb Deep album isn't a new idea, but you get the feeling that this was originally supposed to be Curtis featuring Mobb Deep, and not the other way around, especially since Curtis handles the first verse. (However, he also handled the first verse on "Bump That", if that's any consolation.) All of the lyrics are painful as fuck to listen to, so even though Fredwreck's beat isn't bad, this song should have remained on the Get Rick or Die Tryin' soundtrack from whence it came.

16. OUTTA CONTROL (REMIX) (50 CENT FEAT MOBB DEEP)
The fact that Dr. Dre produced this remix surprises me to no end. (He also produced the original, which was one of the better-sounding songs on The Massacre.) However, considering the fact that this radio-friendly garbage sounds like, well, garbage, I'm actually offended that the label was able to promote Blood Money with having production from Dr. Dre based on a technicality. I don't need to hear Havoc and Prodigy rhyme as if the mainstream is ever going to give a rat's ass about either of them. Guys, your time is up.

FINAL THOUGHTS: For a crew whose career should have ended four albums ago, Mobb Deep prove once again that their time has been past. Blood Money, a G-Unit disc masquerading as a Mobb Deep album, suffers from a lack of cohesion, a reliance on some horribly miscast guest spots, a general confusion of sorts regarding the status of everyone else in Mobb Deep's camp (were Big Noyd and Twin Gambino given the wrong address to appear at during the recording sessions?), terrible beats (save for a few), and, the worst offense of all, coasting, which Havoc and Prodigy elect to do instead of trying to win new fans while appeasing the diehards that are mysteriously still around even after all of these years. Hollywood Hav and Las Vegas P spend too much of their time in awe of the fact that rap's most profitable star (at the time) heard The Infamous maybe once and (incorrectly) assumed he could turn these jackasses into mainstream stars, and that lack of effort on their part shines through like a diamond-encrusted gawdy-as-hell G-Unit spinner.

BUY OR BURN? The fuck do you think? If you already own this album, I highly suggest that you drive up to Havoc's house and demand your fifteen bucks back. And while you're there, you should explain to him that selling out to G-Unit did them no favors. Fuck this album.

BEST TRACKS: "The Infamous"; most of "Pearly Gates"

-Max

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Watch Mobb Deep's career rise and fall by clicking here.

9 comments:

  1. I got this one. I used to like the beats, Pearly gates was decent, but Prodigy really can't spit anymore

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  2. I needed to start hitting fast forwarded when Prodigy's verses came on beginning with "Infamy".

    Well b4 this album.

    Which is just sad because I used to meditate and get lost in his verses. He used to pain such beautifully bleak portraits with his words.

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  3. The ONLY good track, and only because of the beat, was Put The In Their Place, and there is an even better verison of it, but fuck I can't remember who freestyled over it... Cube and WC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k73NRdeGISs

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  4. This is what money does to people.

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  5. Hey. You should move your blog to http://bloghiphop.net since your blog is a hiphop blog. You could also make some $ by having it there...

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  6. I remember being excited when I saw a new Mobb Deep album, although I had no idea the worthless G-Unit had anything to do with it until I listened to it. Man, what a piece of shit this cd is. At least I just downloaded it.......

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  7. You cats iz f#ckin' bananaz!!! You sound Like some non-NY ass, Non gritty block, suburb ass dudes. This isn't The Best Mobb Deep album, howEVER, when it dropped it was better than most albumz of the Time, & still Now. It has a good 8 songz that are BANGABLE. Where are you cats from, Wisconsin or sumthin'?!? You gotta fastforward Prodigy'z versez? Keep it movin' stupid. Mobb Deep has contributed TOO much ta The Industry ta Be disrespected or disregarded by some blog fags

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    1. It's 2014 & I fully agree homie!!!!!! The blogger & these niggas sound like some bitches that can't get over their periods!!!! Ain't nothing wrong with that album. As long as it had hard beats with that grimy street tales, who gives a fuck. They sshould've named this album "Blood Pussy", because too many niggas are on their period about this album!!!!

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  8. I actually got this at flea market for a dollar

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