havoc-kush.jpgOver the past 14 years, Havoc has carved out a sizable rep for himself via his brooding production. Still, the Queensbridge beatsmith/MC often winds up playing second fiddle to his Mobb Deep brother, Prodigy. In fact, while Capital P has managed to squeeze out a pair of solo efforts, Hav has kept a relatively low profile. That’s all about to change, as Hav finally steps out on his own with The Kush.

As expected, Havoc’s first solo outing isn’t lacking in the beats department. The swelling synths of “One Less Nigga” set the stage for a lyrical castigation of would-be snitches. Similarly, the searing organs and rumbling drums of “Hit Me Up” are a perfect backdrop for Hav and Mobb affiliate Un Pacino to spit that dunn language. While the majority of the tracks fall in line with the gritty Mobb style, Hav does offer up a course of lighter fare. On the soothing “Be There,” he pristinely flips a Jackson 5 classic to reaffirm his hip-hop supremacy: “H.A.V.O.C./Don of dons/Y’all fightin’ for that King of New York/I’m King-Kong.”

Unfortunately, the chest-beating bravado gives way to the flossiness of his Hollywood Hav persona. “I’m the Boss” shares the same funky groove with A Tribe Called Quest’s “Luck of Lucien” but gets sabotaged by raps about Hav starring in a sex tape and dodging paparazzi. The same goes for “Balling Out,” which offers up boring tales about his net worth. Another flub is “By My Side,” where Hav and 40 Glocc beat the gun-as-a-woman concept to death.

Thankfully, Prodigy provides some potency with his show-stealing appearance on the chopped-guitar-riff-filled “Set Me Free.” That’s not to say that Havoc can’t catch wreck on his own, but the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Although it’s not the musical massacre die-hard fans have been waiting for, The Kush still provides enough murda muzik to keep hip-hop addicts coming back for their next hit. —ALVIN BLANCO