Kelefa Sanneh: Soulstrut Lurker?
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/arts/music/01choi.html?_r=1&oref=sloginMobb Deep"Blood Money"(G Unit/Interscope)[/b]"I'm only 19, but my mind is old/ And when the things get for real my warm heart turns cold." More than a decade ago, the Queens rap duo Mobb Deep recorded "Shook Ones, Part II," which included that classic couplet. The two rappers, Prodigy (who delivered those lines) and Havoc, perfected an eerie, claustrophobic form of hip-hop. In their world, the clubs were as dangerous as the streets, and the streets were as airless as the clubs. Firmly established as New York legends, the two veterans became potential pop stars last year, when 50 Cent (a fellow Queens-bred rapper and a longtime fan) signed them to his G Unit label. On the 2005 club hits "Outta Control (Remix)" and "Have a Party," the two sounded great riding sleek beats and spitting sullen lyrics alongside their new boss.Both songs are bonus tracks on "Blood Money," Mobb Deep's debut album for G Unit Records, which is likely to thrill neither old fans nor new ones. Like most G Unit releases, this one (with 50 Cent as executive producer) is streamlined: no skits, few guests, barebones beats. That works well on a few songs, including "Put Em in Their Place," which adds scowling threats to a menacing track. But most of this album is startlingly uninspired; no-frills rhymes were once this duo's main weapon; now they are its main liability. The old paranoia is in short supply, and the new swagger never quite arrives: two warm hearts turned cold turned tepid[/b].--KELEFA SANNEH