I am a big fan of hip hop. I may be selective in what I like and listen to, but really any music fan has their likes and dislikes. A buddy at work said I should write more about hip hop. So here it is, and much more to come!
Perhaps one reason why I do not write more is since I am not an expert in the subject, but I do know what is good (and with time comes experience). And Mobb Deep’s third record, Hell on Earth, is good!
Released in 1996, and featuring Nas, Big Noyd, and two Wu-Tang Clan members, Johnny Blaze aka Method Man and Lex Diamonds aka Raekwon. Nas was guesting after his second record, It Was Written was released earlier in 1996. Wu-Tang’s second record (Wu-Tang Forever) was just over half a year away, while Method Man had his debut Tical out (1994), and Raekwon’s debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… had been out for a little over a year.
I first got into Mobb Deep thanks to an old skate (as in skateboard) video, someone skated to “Extortion”, which features Method Man.
Q Magazine called this one of the 50 heaviest albums of all time. From the opener, “Animal Instinct” it is apparent. The aforementioned “Extortion” is a great piece of East Coast/Hardcore/Gangsta hip hop, featuring Method Man at his best. All the way to the end, over 60 minutes worth, the album flows very well. “Hell on Earth (Front Lines)” is a slower piano laced track, but still definitely one to nod with to the beat.
The beats are solid. As is the rapping of Havoc and Prodigy. The record features a few samples, but they are seamless, making them next to impossible to notice. “Still Shinin'” samples Willie Hutch’s “Hospital Prelude of Love Theme”, one of the only easily noticeable samples.
After listening to the samples, most of which I did not know, and all I did not know by name, at least not being able to hear it upon hearing the song title, it is apparent, like many hip hop records how well the samples play. The strings in “Extortion” from “Can You Remember” by Jackson 5 completely changes the context, yet adds so much to the Mobb Deep track. And some, such as “Fool Yourself” by Little Feat in “G.O.D. Pt. III” deserves the Beatles treatment to listen carefully and analyse the entire tracks.
(Of course the entire record, if not, a few essential tracks)
“Can You Remember” by Jackson 5 followed by
The piano on “Get Dealt With”
“Hell on Earth (Front Lines)”
“Give It Up Fast” featuring Nas and Big Noyd