Now if you take a good look and look into my face
And if they wouldn’t even dare to violate my space
Son I did so much dirt I’m tryna clean my slate
And ate so many niggas’ food and now they want mines ate
The dogs bark when I walk and sense the souls I took
Moms pray for me with her right hand on the Good Book
Saw shots fly by me, know I shoulda been dripping
The Pulp Fiction musta been God’s divine intervention
Now homie if I go to hell and you make it to the pearly gates
Tell the boss man we got beef
And tell his only son I’ma see him when I see him
And when I see him, I’ma beat him like the movie
For leaving us out to dry in straight poverty
For not showing me no signs they watching over me
Look, we a new breed in 2006
We don’t give a fuck about that religious bullshit
On this day 11 years ago, grimy Queensbridge, NYC thug rap legends Mobb Deep dropped their seventh studio album, Blood Money, the first and only full-length effort from Havoc and Prodigy to be released through 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records (in conjunction with Interscope). As such, a lot of people hated on this joint, claiming Mobb Deep had fallen off and/or sold out by aligning themselves with such a huge star and going in such a commercialized direction musically, but honestly, I’ve always rather enjoyed it. Granted, it’s nowhere close to matching the artistic quality or intensity of their previous material (namely, the back-to-back gold-selling, career-defining classics The Infamous and Hell On Earth, from 1995 and 1996, respectively) and the album is certainly not without its flaws (“Backstage Pass” in particular is so awful that it’s embarrassing, and the general lyrical structure of the project does seem less imaginative and inspired than before; not to mention the album favors substantial G-Unit guest support in the curious absence of close affiliate and regular collaborator Big Noyd), but overall I felt that there were still a lot of solid tracks on here.
In fact, if I really had to pick one thing about Blood Money to complain about, my main gripe would be that the controversial, Exile-produced “Pearly Gates” (arguably the best song on the album) heavily censors Prodigy’s blasphemy-laced closing verse and leaving it uncut would have made the listening experience significantly more enjoyable; you can peep the uncensored version below! Hav produces several tracks on Blood Money, including the booming opening numbers “Smoke It” and “Put ‘Em In Their Place”, as well as the signature Mobb joint “Speakin’ So Freely” and the dreamy high-profile collaboration “It’s Alright” (featuring Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent himself; the latter appears as a guest on several other tracks as well).
Longtime friend, affiliate and prolific super-producer The Alchemist laces Hav and P with heat on “The Infamous” (as if they didn’t have enough songs and albums with that title already). This immediately precedes the soulful, J.R. Rotem-produced “In Love With The Moula”, and the Mobb’s sinister vibe is further felt on additional Havoc productions “Stole Something” and “Click Click” (featuring G-Unit members Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, respectively). The Mobb isn’t usually known for making hot club bangers, but sometimes they can surprise you; the aforementioned disastrous club song attempt “Backstage Pass” is immediately followed by the much superior “Give It To Me” (featuring G-Unit member Young Buck), and the two included bonus tracks, “Have A Party” (produced by Fredwreck and featuring 50 Cent and the late, great Nate Dogg) and especially Dr. Dre’s remix of 50’s “Outta Control”, are welcome additions as well; the former initially appeared on the Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ soundtrack, while the latter’s original version first appeared on 50’s sophomore studio album The Massacre before being remixed and released as a crossover club single, ultimately peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Even if Mobb Deep’s signature dark and bleak street sound isn’t completely intact on Blood Money to everybody’s liking, the album is still enjoyable enough to warrant a revisit every now and then and truly doesn’t deserve all the hate it seems to get. With that said, it might be the duo’s worst album, but nevertheless remains easier to absorb than some other artists’ best work.