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Prodigy, The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson Story

As one half of the infamous Mobb Deep, Prodigy embodied the gritty street tales of Noir York City. Now a free man after serving a three-year bid for weapons possession, the H.N.I.C. kicks that dun language once again on the quickstrike EP, The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson Story.

Anchored by production from Mobb stalwarts Sid Roams and The Alchemist and punctuated by audio clips from the 1997 crime film Hoodlum, the brief project finds a renewed P spitting like the lyrical menace he once was. Perhaps more focused than he’s ever been in years, his renewed hunger is evident on the album’s jumpoff “The One And Only,” where he spits, “Truth be told, without money I would still spill/All of my thoughts into the beats/This is my passion, my baby, I breathe.”

Opting more for the darker scores of yesteryear than the glitzy bleeps of his G-Unit days, Prodigy’s grizzled voice is as gruff as the backdrops her spits on, from the dank soul of “Go Off” to the sinister keys of the Mobb Deep reunion cut “Twilight.” Though the content does get repetitive at times, there’s limited room for error on the seven track story, and perhaps Prodigy summarizes this project best on “Stronger:” “You want hardcore rap, you’re fucking with the right one.” Indeed. —Meka Udoh

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