Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Prodigy gets moody on latest release

One could say the recently incarcerated Prodigy, one-half of
quintessential New York roughnecks Mobb Deep, had a somewhat enlightened final
few months before he was jailed on routine “rappers-with-guns”
charges. He penned the most entertainingly indecipherable music blog ever.
(This is unarguable: It was a poetic mix of barely intelligible claims to
hip-hop trendsetting and lists of emcees that he thinks suck.) He starred in
several awesomely bad and nearly identical music videos. Last year, he released
his Return of the Mac mixtape with frequent collaborator Alchemist, a
surprisingly excellent work which held up against the year’s best albums. And
he somehow found time to record his second solo album, H.N.I.C. 2.

Reuniting with Alchemist for four of the album’s 13 tracks
proved to be a wise decision on P’s part. Where Return of the Mac flipped retro
samples into a dark blaxploitation-musical of sorts, Alchemist’s beats on
H.N.I.C. 2 sound nervously urgent. “Young Veterans” rolls along in
harmony with P’s ever-damaged MC sensibilities, the ideal background for his
stone-faced boasts and aphorisms suggesting an utter lack of faith in rap’s new
generations (most of whom he’s already cited as being terrible on his blog).
The pounding synthesizers of “Illuminati” sound like a man on the run
from the imaginary cabals he’s manufactured in his paranoid, dysfunctional

Fellow Mobb Deep member Havoc and relative unknown Sid Roams
account for eight more tracks, all of which continue the moody aesthetic pushed
forward by Alchemist. “New Yitty” and “ABC” are also
exceptional in maintaining the album’s certain rotted ambience — H.N.I.C. 2 is
by no means a “70 degrees and sunny” listening experience.


The album lyrically lingers on caricaturized death threats
and hyperbolic criticisms of often incoherent subjects, a trend that’s marked
the entirety of Mobb Deep’s catalog for better or for worse. On
“Illuminati,” he rambles about his abrupt pre-prison enlightenment (“I
had a total recall, forget what I already knew/ It took 33 years for me to see
the truth”) to the invisible conspiracies that control the world. The
subject is not particularly original, but, alongside all the standard
assertions of street-prowess that speckle H.N.I.C. 2, this song serves as an
insightful look at the twisted inner constitution of a marginally successful
rapper who has smoked too much pot and bought too many automatic weapons for
show over the span of his 16-year career. I guess one might say that P’s appeal
relies heavily on the “slow motion car crash” principle.

Prodigy’s rapping is an acquired taste, with a highly
distinctive and at times lackadaisical flow. He famously has little problem
eschewing rhymes all together (“It’s much more than rap, this is pure
facts/ You’ll see what’s really good when you catch him by himself”). This
habit offends hip-hop purists to no end, and it obviously circumvents the
stylistic dogma we’ve inherited from the Rakims and the Big Ls of yesteryear. But
this flow lends itself quite effectively to emphasizing the existential angst
that dictates P’s life. The more problematic flaw for this album is sheer
repetitiveness. Every song has this air of dread and synthetic malice — it
becomes an exhausting listen after a while.

The circumstances of H.N.I.C. 2 are probably more intriguing
than the album itself. The patient listener who doesn’t immediately reject P’s
rule-breaking and seemingly effortless style will hear one of the darker albums
in recent mainstream hip-hop. Alas, how much of this can we, the listeners or
Prodigy himself, endure?


3 stars out of 5

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *