Over a decade ago, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy was rapping about stabbing people with their nose bones and was revered as one of New York’s finest lyricists. Funny how much things can change. Still feeling the impact from the now-infamous Jay-Z diss, P and his partner Havoc saw their past two albums—including last year’s G-Unit debut, Blood Money—attract more dust than consumers. Looking to reinvent himself, Prodigy steps out on his own with Return of the Mac, a project steeped in 1970’s soul and orchestrated exclusively by longtime affiliate The Alchemist.
On the gloomy “Mac 10 Handle,” Capital P snatches a line from the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and transforms it into the hook for a suicidal manifesto. The same dark cloud shrouds the synthesizer-heavy “7th Heaven,” where the Queensbridge representer snarls, “Bullets beat you to sleep, no nap time, nigga/It’s my snack time, nigga/I wrap niggas up in them doggie bags, nigga.”
For all of his thug bravado, though, Prodigy still has brief moments of unclarity. Take the horn-laden “Nickel and a Nail,” where he delivers one of his most lackadaisical lines ever: “As a young gunner, I was like, ‘They can’t stop me’/Now I’m grown-up, so obviously they ain’t stop me.” Furthermore, the funky “Take It to the Top” is stifled by brazen proclamations, like, “Nigga kept talkin’ and talkin’, I had to shoot him.”
However, the occasional lyrical flub is forgivable, thanks to the consistent production. Whether it be the chipmunk soul of “Stuck on You” or the superb reworking of Barry White’s “Playing Your Game Baby” on “Stop Fronting,” Alchemist provides Prodigy with the perfect sound track to let his morbid mind spray.
While he’ll never be the same dun dun from ’95, Prodigy remains just as violent as before, just with more gore and less description. So Return of the Mac does deliver mo’ money, mo’ murder, mo’ homicide—but not much else. —JESÚS TRIVIÑO ALARCÓN