Saturday, 19 November 2016

Mobb Deep "Hell On Earth" (1996)


As the album opens its purpose is stated with the opening words. "You know how we did on The Infamous album right?", "Well were going to do it again son!". Fitting lines to summarize both the albums strengths and weaknesses, Mobb Deep intentionally attempt to recreate the success of their legendary 95 "The Infamous" record. Just a year later the duo were fast to jump back into the studio, rounding up some familiar voices, Big Noyd returns for a couple of tracks, Raekwon and Method Man of the Wu-Tang Clan and Nas once again. Despite "The Infamous" being one of my favorite records, Id never given many of their other records, bar "Juvenile Hell" much of a try and with my conclusion in mind I believe this would be a record Id of really loved had I gotten into it years ago. These days my appetite for more of the same flavor is rather diminished.

"Hell On Earth" takes "The Infamous" blueprint and attempts to twist it to darker territory. Firstly the beats have the same sharp, crisp snappy tones and programming arrangements, with deeper spare baselines backing the kicks. The sampling looks for more upfront, direct sounds, sinister ensemble strings sections with Gambino crime family vibes rub up against the rugged, urban drum loops. It finds itself more involved, removing some of the atmosphere and reverb the drums use to fill between more sparse sample choices. As a result thicker walls of sound bare down on the listener with grimy mafioso vibes. The soundtrack to scarface inspired crime, it creates quite the air of burden, gloom and doom on some tracks like "G.O.D. Part III" where the mood is rather grim.

On the vocal front much not has changed in the duos tone, delivery and flow but lyrically there is less story telling and more gun play, braggadocio and threatening word play as the two make remarkable statements related to crime life and violence. Some tracks run narratives and others not so much but as a lack of familiarity would suggest I didn't enjoy the lyrical side as much as the beats which on a few tracks really hit the mark. "Hell On Earth" is very much a repeat of success that leans into the Mafioso Rap genre that was emerging at the time. Its a solid, enjoyable record but as I said I have a diminished appetite for "more of the same" in this instance.

Favorite Tracks: Extortion, Man Down, Can't Get Enough, Nighttime Vultures, G.O.D. Part III, Give It Up
Rating: 7/10

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