September 9, 2004

Test Spin: Mobb Deep

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I didn’t know much about Mobb Deep before reviewing this CD, but the group comprised of emcees Prodigy and Havoc has been around for more than a decade now. I do know that their latest single, “Got It Twisted,” is one of the hottest rap songs I’ve heard in awhile, an unequivocally cool track that samples and updates Thomas Dolby’s ’80s hit “She Blinded Me With Science.” All of the production is on point in Mobb Deep’s latest testament to a hard-knock life and the streets. Prodigy and Havoc further diversify their territory from the hardcore East Coast scene by collaborating with the south’s King of Krunk Lil Jon, Chi-Town’s Twista, and West Coast-resident Nate Dogg. Prodigy and Havoc spit smart and potent rhymes against effective and hard-hitting beats on songs like “Win or Lose” and the Kanye West-helmed “Throw Your Hands (in the Air).” Some people say that rhymes are not to be taken for face value or their literal meaning, and should be interpreted artistically to find their merit. I’ve heard this argument used in defense of Eminem and other hardcore artists, and at times I find this explanation to be problematic. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with explicit and graphic imagery in songs, but I believe there should be substance or a message behind such loaded words. Take this album; it’s a good album, yet I can’t seem to get past words like, “A little manslaughter/ in front of my kids/ a little blood on my daughter,” in “Got it Twisted,” a song where lines like this are unnecessary. I asked a friend who loves rap music what she thought about irrelevant violent and graphic lyrics to which she replied, “Oh, I don’t listen to the words, I just listen to the beats.” The beats are great, but I like to listen to the words as well, and not squirm or feel uneasy in the process.

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer