Mobb Deep’s artistry missing

[Originally published in the Sun Chronicle on May 11, 2006]

Fans who came to Lupo’s Tuesday night looking for the Mobb Deep they know are probably still on the hunt.

In their guise as new members of the ever-expanding G-Unit posse, the Mobb — composed of rapper Prodigy and rapper/producer Havoc of Queens Bridge, N.Y. — delivered not so much a performance, but a cross between a marketing plan and a late-night party.

Goal No. 1 of the plan: Promote their new album “Blood Money,” which was released on May 2.

The strategy: Inundate the audience with “Blood Money” songs, including ” The Infamous,” “Pearly Gates,” “Capital P Capital H,” “It’s Alright,” the Indian-flavored “Give It To Me,” “Put “Em In Their Place,” which they played twice, and the horrible “Backstage Pass,” which they played twice.

The dark artistry that’s defined the duo for over a decade got lost amidst this flood of new mediocrity, a posse of no less than 10 backup rappers/hype men onstage, and a bevy of girls called up from the audience to writhe and wriggle while Hav and P coasted through their set.

Fairly recent joints like “Win or Lose,” “The Learning (Burn),” “Got It Twisted” and “Quiet Storm” provided some reprieve from the marketing assault, as did Prodigy’s solo joint, “Keep It Thoro,” along with their made-for-the-club collabo with 50 Cent, “Outta Control (Remix).”

Hints of the old Mobb Deep peeked through the nearly two-hour show with classic hits like “Survival of the Fittest,” “GOD Pt. III” and the dark banger that started it all, “Shook Ones Pt. II.”

But the old school songs almost seemed like afterthoughts amidst the need to saturate the speakers with “Blood Money” material that was largely unfamiliar and uninspired.

In an ideal world, the Mobb would have saved “Shook Ones Pt. II” for last.

In the real world they ended with “Stole Something,” another mediocre take off the new album, as Prodigy sauntered offstage while putting the dancing girls on notice with “Y’all got y’all backstage passes — let’s go.”

In between songs, hype men claimed it was “really getting crunk” in the 1,200-capacity venue that was about half-full, but truthfully, it didn’t even come close. In a clear case of industry versus artistry, the industry won.

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