It’s been almost two years since the world was utterly underwhelmed by Amerikaz Nightmare, but someone was listening. And someone’s eyes were lit up by dollar signs. That someone was fortunately the hardest working man in hip-hop, 50 Cent who couldn’t resist adding Havoc and Prodigy to his G Unit stable. Less than a year later the fruits of their labour are ripe for the picking in Blood Money.
With Smoke It it seems that nothing has changed; the thumping bass is the same, the dark beat is consistent with all their prior releases, and the gritty delivery is instantly identifiable. And of course it’s all about shooting people. Make no mistakes about it this is Mobb Deep telling the world that signing to G Unit won’t change their style.
Lloyd Banks sits perfectly on Stole Something, revelling in the darkest of atmospheres, however for every shred of style the track oozes it lacks just as much in substance. Lyrics like “Gunpowder ressy on the sleeve of my Pelle/ I had to burn my leather and toss my buddy” just don’t do the genre any favours, and are particularly insensitive following the fatal shooting of D12 founding member Proof last month.
50 Cent gets his first outing in Creep but his 30 second cameo doesn’t detract from the track’s frankly grating beat. Thankfully Speaking So Freely pulls things back, although having no input on this album it is clear that Havoc’s production is heavily influenced by Dr Dre. The beat could sit comfortably on the seminal 2001, then again, that was released seven years ago.
Give It To Me shows that hip-hop hasn’t forgotten the music of Bollywood but like Backstage Pass it’s misogyny on an indefensible level. Once again Mobb Deep pull things into the black with Click Click’s thump. While every man and his dog, from Busta Rhymes to System Of A Down have already sampled the Knight Rider theme it’s always interesting to see how it can be reinvented.
Pearly Gates is a confusing blend of gangsta lyrics, self-censorship and 50 Cent talking about getting to heaven over what can only be described as a “sunny” beat. The Infamous takes a sample from breakbeat classic Gangbusters and as Xzibit probably wouldn’t say, has officially been pimped. 50 Cent’s chorus is sheer arrogance and although the tone is different, lyrically it is complementary to In Love with the Moula
The album officially ends uneasily with It’s Alright, an opportunity for Mary J Blige to exercise her more than competent vocal chords. It’s also a rare moment of equality as the track is surprisingly about romance and to some extent female empowerment.
Ultimately it doesn’t change the fact that the album, like its predecessor, fails to make any sort of mark on this reviewer. The album is a 60 minute blur, and while there are brief moments of clarity there’s just nothing special about Blood Money. It may have the G Unit stamp on it but that doesn’t make it a masterpiece by default.