September 5, 2009

Infamous Mobb - Special Edition (December 26, 2002)


You may not believe me when you read my posts now, but there was once a time when I was genuinely excited about Mobb Deep. Havoc and Prodigy were once able to flawlessly translate their experiences and struggles in Queensbridge into musical compositions that have stood the test of time up against other undisputed hip hop classics: as a result, Mobb Deep walked away with some of those classics underneath their own respective belts, right above the crotch. True, the fact that Hav and Cellblock P started off as kiddie rappers may lead one to believe that they shtick was just an act, and they were simply repeating tales from those who actually lived that shit, but even if that was the case, they were fucking great at pretending, as their discography boasts two classic albums, The Infamous and Hell On Earth, and one pretty good one, Murda Musik. The rest are crap, yeah, but these three were the tits.

As a Mobb Deep stan in a former life, I acted exactly as the duo wanted me to: whenever they introduced fellow members of their crew onto the scene, I checked for their musical output. (Obviously, I did the same thing for the Wu-Tang Clan, although that obsession cost me a lot more money.) Big Noyd was the first Mobb Deep weed carrier to get any of my cash, and his debut EP Episodes Of A Hustla was actually really fucking good, so when Mobb Deep introduced their merry band of pot holders, the Infamous Mobb, on their own projects, the interest was already there.

Infamous Mobb, whose name originally confused the shit out of me, thanks to the fact that Mobb Deep's first album (that mattered) was called The Infamous, consisted of four members at first: Ty Nitty, G.O.D. Father Part III (also known as G.O.D. Part III and Godfather, with all but the last name sounding goofy as hell), Twin Gambino, and Twin Scarface, the latter two actual twins. Twin Scarface passed away in a car crash prior to the crew getting an opportunity to shine on Mobb Deep's Hell On Earth, an album which featured a song named after G.O.D. Part III (although he didn't make an appearance).

The trio continued to record music, and they managed to land guest spots on both the first DJ Muggs Soul Assassins project and the QB's Finest compilation. (It helped that Mobb Deep was also featured on both albums: nepotism does tend to run rampant in hip hop.) Their debut album, Special Edition, was released in 2002 by Landspeed Records, a label that would file for bankruptcy a couple of years later, so it's not surprising to learn that the marketing budget for thie project was nil. The Alchemist, who had become a close associate of the entire Mobb at this point, produced the majority of their album, with assists from the likes of Havoc, DJ Muggs, and others.

Special Edition has apparently become some sort of Queensbridge holy grail, if one were to believe the reviews online (many folks hail this as an undisputed classic, and many of those same folks admit that the lyrics aren't up to snuff - you can understand why I'm a bit confused at this album's reaction), as it is currently out of print (but readily available on the Interweb). I haven't heard this one in a while (save for the handful of tracks that also made an appearance on Mobb Deep's Free Agents: The Murda Mixtape project, released on, coincidentally enough, Landspeed), so the jury's still out as to whether this type of attention is justified.

1. INTRO
It's short, but it's still unnecessary. At least it's mostly instrumental in nature.

2. IM3
I found myself waiting for Twin Gambino to spit. That statement is completely unfair to Ty Nitty And G.O.D. Part III, who handle the first two verses, and it gets even worse: Twin's verse was also pretty weak. Alchemist's instrumental is truly the best thing going for the song, with its high blood pressure pulse sounding like the soundtrack to an all-Mobb Deep edition of E! True Hollywood Stories.

3. BORN AGAIN (FEAT HOSTYLE)
This sounds like something that Havoc and Prodigy would record today. Not a compliment, by the way. Ax The Bull's beat wasn't engaging in the least, and Hostyle (from Screwball) is left to handle chorus duties, and he doesn't even do a good job with that. You'll be skipping this one with the quickness.

4. KILLA QUEENS (FEAT BIG NOYD & PRODIGY)
The energy picks up a bit over V.I.C.'s instrumental. The guests were entirely unnecessary, though: neither Big Noyd nor Cellblock P add anything to these proceedings. The Infamous Mobb would have been better off bogarting the track for themselves they sound alright. But I am actually surprised that it took four tracks for a member of Mobb Deep to finally appear on Special Edition.

5. SPECIAL EDITION
The title doesn't really have anything to do with the song: it isn't as if this track contains deleted scenes, commentary by the participants, or a limited edition metallic cover or anything. Twin, Ty, and G.O.D. pass the mic back and forth admirably over Al Maman's plodding beat, and I'm left wondering why exactly it was imperative that the Infamous Mobb establish their own identity as a group.

6. I REP
This song may be really short, but it doesn't excuse the beat by Phil (a hilarious producer name, by the way), which sounded entirely adequate until the sound effect mimicking the record being spun backward kicked in. Highly annoying. Ty Nitty's solo effort is ruined because of it, although his rhymes were pretty generic, to be honest.

7. THE FAMILY (SKIT) (FEAT PRODIGY)


8. MOBB N----Z: THE SEQUEL (FEAT PRODIGY)
This Alchemist production is the shit. Prodigy even sounds perfect on the hook. Although the beat begs for a remix featuring Hav and P with actual verses, this track firmly belongs to the Infamous Mobb, and on here, they do not disappoint. For those of you who care about these things (like myself), the original version of this song (the “prequel” if you will) was recorded and released as an attack on Jay-Z and the Roc-A-Fella camp, I believe. I could be wrong, though: I haven't heard it in several years.

9. REALITY RAP (FEAT BLITZ, KAOS, & UNO DOS)
Weed carriers featuring their own weed carriers on a posse cut is akin to the universe folding in upon itself. It's unsafe, to say the least. Oh, and this song sucks balls, too.

10. MAKE A LIVIN' (FEAT V-12 & CHINKY)
The first thing that always comes to mind whenever I think of Mobb Deep and their brethren (as infrequently as that is) is that the crew could definitely benefit from more R&B hooks. You can justify any violent action as long as you have someone singing on your chorus. At least, that's the lesson I learned from this story.

11. WE DON'T GIVE A... (FEAT HAVOC)
I didn't think this Havoc production was that bad within the context of Special Edition, although I will admit that I trashed this song when I wrote about Free Agents: The Murda Mixtape (I also learned that Twin Gambino used to be signed to Virgin Records. Who knew? Besides his family, of course), but Havoc's hook was pretty fucking awful. When he finally gets a chance to spit a few bars, he nearly redeems himself, though, so that helped a bit.

12. BACK IN THE DAYS (FEAT CHINKY)
Chinky is the go-to R&B songstress for Mobb Deep to utilize whenever they want to show their softer sides. I didn't care for her hook on here, but the lyrics feature a lot more depth than anything else on Special Edition.

13. B.I.G. T.W.I.N.S.
The Alchemist and Twin Gambino do their impression of DJ Premier and, oh, let's just say Big Shug (because Twin doesn't have either the lyrics or the monotone of Guru), and they do a great fucking job at it. Still this isn't really an Infamous Mobb song, which helps explain why it doesn't fit in with the rest of Special Edition at all.

14. WE STRIVE (FEAT TY-MAXX)
When Godfather's dick gets hard, you'll get scarred. So be sure to avoid him if you run across the man in a strip club, or if you catch him watching and/or reading porn, and if you spot him watching the Food Network whenever one of those hot hosts is on, watch out! What do you mean, I didn't talk about the song?

15. WE WILL SURVIVE (FEAT CHINKY)
The Infamous Mobb Gloria Gaynor all you motherfuckers. DJ Muggs provides a repetitive beat, but it helps set the tone, and the song isn't any worse because of his work.

16. WAR
This has what is, in my opinion, one of the best beats Havoc has ever created. I'm actually kind of shocked that he willingly gave it to his weed carriers instead of to the highest bidder. This shit rocks. I could have done without all of the gunfire at the beginning, but the song is called “War”, after all. Nice!

The following is a bonus track that immediately follows “War”.

GET HIGH GET BENT
“War” would have served as an awesome cap to an otherwise uninteresting evening, but then the bonus track kicks in. The subject matter is meh, but I actually liked the beat, so this wasn't completely awful.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Special Edition sparkles with promise in intermittent spurts, but for the most part, this album proves that the skills of Twin Gambino, G.O.D. Pt. III, and Ty Nitty are best served in small doses, preferably during guest spots on actual Mobb Deep albums. Although I've expressed my admiration for Twin Gambino's flow in the past, he blends in a bit too easily with the other members of his crew, and that wasn't very pleasant for me. The production, for the most part, was entertaining, but you're left wishing, with the exception of a few tracks, that they were given to more deserving artists.

BUY OR BURN? Mobb Deep fanatics already own this one, but if you don't, this one is a burn. An instrumental version of this would be highly recommended (so somebody better get to work), but as it stands, this isn't consistently entertaining enough to warrant a purchase.

BEST TRACKS: “War”; “Mobb N----z: The Sequel”; “B.I.G. T.W.I.N.S.”; “Back In The Days”

-Max

3 comments:

  1. Most of the album is crap..
    B.I.G. T.W.I.N.S. is the only good track.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ... so are Infamous Mobb also members of Sick Of It All, or is it the other way around? :p

    ReplyDelete
  3. AnonymousMay 01, 2010

    the beats are above the average

    ReplyDelete