Perhaps unfairly known as the lyrically-inferior half of The Infamous Mobb Deep, Havoc seemingly has been in a place mentally where he’s allowed this general consensus to get to him. Struggles in his business and personal life finally bubbled over during the creation of his third solo album ’13’. Shortly before his first album since 2009, issues with his partner in rhyme, Prodigy, were made public (via Twitter and radio interviews) as a result of Prodigy releasing an autobiography upon his release from prison. Distractions aside, Havoc has returned to make a statement concerning his worth and standalone merit in the music industry with some of his best production in quite some time. From the very first Mobb Deep album, Havoc has always had the distinction of working with a dark and brooding palette of sounds. His ability to create a soundscape for gritty tales from the streets is still pretty much peerless in his latest solo effort.
With that being said, it’s been exactly 20 years since Mobb Deep appeared on the scene and the street-tales could perhaps be getting a bit long in the tooth at this juncture. What’s here is definitely above average, but if you’re familiar with Havoc, this one could perhaps play out in very predictable fashion for you. Wasting no time getting to familiar territory, the album starts with “Gone,” in which Havoc lets you know just what he’s offering in the first 2 lines: “2013, funny how time’s flyin’. It ain’t a thing changed in regards to the iron.” He’s being forthright with you, people. Consider yourselves warned if you were perhaps looking for some Andre 3000-like progression here.
As mentioned earlier, the production is what shines here because it fits so well with the subject matter and goes a long way in providing a visual for the lyrics. Personally, I’ve never felt that Havoc was really sub-par in comparison to Prodigy. He hasn’t necessarily lost a step here, but again, the topics don’t seem to vary at all. Even assistance from Styles P, Raekwon, Lloyd Banks, Royce da 5’9″, and Twista on several tracks just seem to fall right in line with the well-established Mobb Deep formula. There’s no challenge in listening to this one. It’s not very thought-provoking, but if you’re familiar with Mobb Deep’s style of music and are a fan of it, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, it’s actually better than Mobb Deep’s last 2 albums in my modest opinion. It’s like a new reality show at this point. New city, new home, Flavor Flav or Ray J…you know all they’re going to do is yell and throw stuff at one another. If this sort of thing is still entertaining for you, tune in.