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Beats Per Millennium - Prodigy: Product of the 80's

Prodigy: Product of the 80's

While the rest of us are waiting for DMX to finally expose himself outside a Taco Bell to end his career, Prodigy of Mobb Deep has been having a tragically weird career all his own. He’s in jail after his third gun possession. He was the only rapper this side of Lupe Fiasco who didn’t get on the Obama bandwagon (Prodigy prefers Ron Paul). He has Sickle Cell Anemia, the same thing T-Boz from TLC has. He did this bizarre song a few months back where the hook is the alphabet song, apparently because his name starts with P and P is a letter in the alphabet. All signs point to this being a record where a fuckup records a few tracks just because that’s what he’s always done, for better or for worse. Thing is, this record is actually pretty good.

First of all, I don’t know who Sid Roams is, but I like him. He produced most of the tracks on this record and the result is retro without sounding stale. It’s equal parts Vice City and San Andreas, with a little early-era LL Cool J thrown in for taste. There are a few moments where it sounds half-inspired by synth lines from cheesy 80s movie soundtracks and lame promotional videos, and it’s a fantastically unexploited aesthetic. The standout track is the paranoid-sounding “Test Tube Babies” (with a title like that, you know it’s got to be good). It’s very X-Files, very Stephen King, and I think there’s some theremin thrown in there (either that, or the UFO preset on a Casio. Is there a UFO preset on Casios?). There’s not a lot of consistency between hook and verse. The track starts “I’m not a killer, but don’t push me / Revenge is like the sweetest thing next to getting pussy / I truthfully shoot my gun at your scalp / and actually shoot my sperm in her mouth.” OK, so far so good. Not breaking any new ground, but not sounding too played out. He’s like a mellow 50 Cent, with no fame to get to his head. But then we get to the hook: “The United Snakes of America / Really, we the Royal Family’s mafia / The Queen pull the strings / America’s the puppet, time to cut the strings / The Queen is the brains / America’s the muscle / She show us who to muscle / The Queen is the boss girl / America’s the goons / We police the world / The Queen run the show / America’s the test tube / we the scapegoat”

I’m not exactly sure what theory of political science Prodigy subscribes to, but I’m pretty sure he’s suggesting the Queen of England (?) is the head of the secret cabal that runs the world.

Which is why you should vote for Ron Paul.

Look, I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, but the bat-shit crazy ones are pretty fun sometimes. Is it a metaphor? The Illuminati? He sounds sober enough, but I think he might be an alien abductee, he might own a ham radio and live in a shack in South Dakota. Maybe.

A good part of the first verse of the next track, “Cold World,” is a rap about dressing warm when there is cold weather. “Over here it get cold / you better have thermal / under the hoodie / that’s under the snorkel / Pair of gloves / Two pair of socks / Sweatpants under your jeans / nah mean?” He doesn’t drop the topic, going on about standing on the subway platform late at night and how “Jack Frost run this shit.” He puts a substantial amount of work into the metaphor, and it pays off.

Then there’s “Stop Stressin,” a track that sounds mildly like Beverly Hills Cop (80s!). It also ends with a Reagan soundbyte followed by an 80s anti-drug PSA, both of which are awesome. The track itself is more than a little critical of mainstream hip hop: “Stupid ring / an idiot bracelet / big dumb-ass chain / and the watch on my wrist / is retarded / make a face like you can’t shit / niggas need laxative.” Prodigy made a smart distinction – machismo in rap? Overcompensating? Wealth? Bling? Overrated. Prodigy keeps. it. real. He has absolutely no problem, however, with sex, drugs, and murder.

Coincidentially, there is a track on this album called “Sex, Drugs, & Murder.” I wonder what it’s about?

Prodigy’s latest is a pleasant surprise. If you averaged a mediocre Lil Wayne and an above-average 50 Cent, you would have Prodigy (though I think “Test Tube Babies” might be just a little weirder than anything on Tha Carter III). Most of his raps are about everything that we went over right before Nas came out. Is that so bad? It’s a competent throwback with a good number of bright spots along the way. If you’re especially nostalgic for the way hip hop used to be, you could spend your hard-earned rap dollars on a worse album.

Posted by Joe Kaiser at Nov 18, 2008 01:21 AM


your a cock. this is as good as rap gets.

d · Apr 13, 08:43 AM · #