mobbbloodmoney.jpgHavoc and Prodigy’s 2003 leap to Jive was supposed to be their transition from disgruntled employees to H.N.I.C. status. But just as quickly as their first (and only) Infamous Records release, Amerikaz Nightmare, fell off the radar, so did Mobb Deep. Now the Queensbridge soldiers find themselves taking orders again as the latest additions to the G-Unit roster. Hoping to earn employees of the month props, the infamous duo let 50 Cent leave his platinum-coated fingerprints all over their seventh LP, Blood Money.

If Fiddy isn’t supplying his chart-topping vocals to a hook (i.e. the groupie-lovin’ “Backstage Pass” and the Dr. Dre–produced “Nightmares”), his patented singsongy flow is lazily mimicked. On the title track, Prodigy sprinkles a bit of harmonization into the chorus before spittin’ that dunn language. Then there’s the cheesy club anthem “Give It to Me” featuring Young Buck, where newcomer Profile produces a belly dancer groove that’s a blatant nod to “Candy Shop.”

Before naysayers start assuming that the G-Unit brand is overshadowing Mobb’s infamous blueprint, Hav and P deliver heavy doses of murda muzik courtesy of crushing cuts like “Put Em in Their Place,” produced by Sha Money XL, and the Cali-dreamin’ stunner “Capital P.” However, the stand-out track is “Pearly Gates” featuring 50. The Queens trio searches for the keys to heaven over producer Exile’s joyful choir and rollicking organs until P kicks off a sacrilegious verse, “Tell that nigga Jesus I’ma see him when I see him/And beat him like that movie/For leavin’ us in poverty and not watchin’ over me.”

Unlike 2001’s Infamy, which included the R&B dud “Hey Luv (Anything),” Blood Money more carefully balances its commercial content with street anthems. Packing their latest LP with gems like the Chad Beat–produced “Daydreamin’” and “In Love With the Moula,” where money is personified as their favorite chick, Hav and P get the job dunn.—GREGORY JOHNSON