[18 March 2009]
As Mobb Deep, Prodigy and Havoc can claim two nearly unrivaled classics in The Infamous and Hell on Earth. Sidetracked in recent years by Jay-Z beefs, the G-Unit imbroglio, and Prodigy’s incarceration, the duo’s future is unclear.
Prodigy’s solo work, most notably on Return of the Mac, has expanded on his early promise as a grim lyricist with a unique perspective. Havoc has always been prolific with production but not as successful a rapper as his counterpart. So Hidden Files follows much in the same manner as his solo debut Kush. Neither album will be remembered for its lyrical content or flow, but Havoc’s terse, foreboding sonic atmospheres cannot be denied.
The first half of the album aims for a hodgepodge of modern production styles, with nods to boom bap, reheated G-funk and the cinematic pomp of Young Jeezy. The exception is rock bid “Watch Me (ft Ricky Blaze)”, which is a simple curiosity but packs more of a punch than rock forays by Diddy or Lil Wayne. But Hidden Files really hits its stride with a four-song arc that includes “The Hustler”, “The Millennium”, “Walk Wit Me”, and “On a Mission (ft Prodigy)”. These songs hint at the dark soundscapes and cold, specific street narratives that were the signatures of Mobb Deep.
So not every track here is a keeper, but Hidden Files is worth checking out as it makes use of the lean, menacing qualities that form the bedrock of Mobb Deep’s classic output. This set is a serviceable stopgap that will hold listeners over until Havoc and Prodigy once again combine their strengths on an LP.
“Walk Wit Me”