Review ·

Mobb Deep needs to chill the hell out. They've been coming with the rugged and the raw since 1993's Juvenile Hell, and their '95 release Infamous left no doubt that they were one of rap's toughest crews. But with their latest release, Free Agents, their lack of humor and charisma leaves their sound as flat and exclusive as it is gritty.

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If you want the gangsta history lesson, look to Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" and N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton,
but the reigning kings of the genre are still Biggie and 'Pac. What
these two thugs proved was that no matter how hard an emcee is, he or
she must include elements of wit and sensitivity in order to flesh out
a persona. This is where Mobb Deep falls short. As usual, their beats
are tight and refreshingly soulful, but lyrically they leave the
listener cold. Lead emcees Havoc and Prodigy can flow, and they prove
their street credentials over and over (and over and over again). But
unfortunately, they never offer a sense of personality or emotional
depth.

These 'dunns' from Queensbridge do pay homage to their predecessors on the Free Agents
track "Paid In Full" inspired by the Eric B. & Rakim cut of the
same name. While this track has conceptual strength, Mobb Deep could
use to learn a few lessons their peers. Rakim was clever, 'Pac was
hilarious, and Biggie loved his mama; all three of them were nothing to
fuck with. Current gangsta giant Fitty Cent came with catchy, universal
party choruses, and now everyone knows his life story. In short, Havoc
and Prodigy should try exposing more than just their weapons when they
step up to the mike.

Free Agents, along with its limited-edition bonus
disc, clocks in with an astonishing 41 tracks. The bonus disc features
previously released tracks and radio mixes from the likes of Kool G
Rap, Cormega, and more. It may be the densest rap package ever offered
for less than 15 bills, but unless you're a die-hard criminal with a
chip on your shoulder and a price on your head, you might not be able
to make it through all 125 minutes of these two discs. Free Agents is hard and cold-hearted, no doubt, but it's nothing new.

Fischerspooner - #1 Murs The End of the Beginning

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