I remember Mobb Deep when they came out as sixteen year old kids. “The Infamous” produced well known classics like “Shook Ones, part 2″ and “Survival of the Fittest”, songs that enveloped you in their grittiness. The beats were raw, the lyrics were unflinchingly honest and Havoc and Prodigy brought you into, and made you a part of, their street life and world fully with every song. Over the years, their appeal has faded in the eye of the fickle hip hop fan, but (overlooking a certain embarrassing Summer Jam screen incident) hip hop purists have always vigorously debated Mobb Deep’s positioning in “The Best Rap Group of All Time” category.
The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson” EP was supposed to be the musical homecoming of Prodigy back into the hip hop arena after being locked up for 3 years. The 7 track offering was questionably patterned (I mean that IS the guy that exposed your ballerina past) after Hov’s “American Gangster” by intermixing the 7 songs with scenes from the movie “Hoodlum”. In the midst of that is the music, which never really quite grabbed me. The beats, meant to be classic Mobb Deep-esque, haunting and gritty, felt more like Mobb Deep-light, never quite reaching their intended effect. The venom, the grit, the rawness of what the Mobb used to be was just a mere memory on this project with the beats, and with Prodigy’s lyrics. No longer is he the vicious rapper from Queens with the hard-hitting lyrics. Instead, he’s become the rapper trying to prove that he still has a purpose in hip hop and with the exception of 3 songs (“Black Devil”, “Twilight” with Havoc and “Go Off”), I’m not sure that his goal was achieved.
What was meant to be Prodigy throwing his hat back in the hip hop ring, was merely just a so-so effort on his behalf. It could be argued that this was a decent EP due to Prodigy just being released from jail but I refuse to make those types of excuses. I’ve been there for every step of his career, I grew up in hip hop with him, I know the greatness that he’s capable of and he didn’t show it in this EP. I’m unsure if I’ll ever listen to this again, but the classic Mobb Deep will always be played in my iTunes.
DOWNLOAD: Prodigy – The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP