Why Mobb Deep's Hell on Earth Is Twice as Hot as the Other Hell
Sorry. But I had to add one more thing. Especially after this and this. Granted, those scores are no surprise. Anyone with a pulse and an Internet connection could've predicted that Pitchfork and Stylus would annoint Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury, the Top Rap Album of 2006. Better than Ghostface's Fishscale. Better than Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor, The Game's Doctor's Advocate Murs' Murray's Revenge and The Roots' Game Theory. Making Hell Hath No Fury the most overrated hip-hop album ever released (though Late Registration and The Love Below/Speakerboxx certainly give it a run for its money). Does anyone honestly believe that it's better than We Got it 4 Cheap Vol. 2? And if so, why? (Hint: Ian "Sexy Results" Cohen quite brilliantly provides the answer in this post).
People seem to have either forgotten what rap sounded like in 1994-1997 (makes sense since many rap fans are stoners) or they started liking rap with the Black Star album. Fair enough. But to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, I've seen classic albums, and Hell Hath No Fury is no classic album.
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Indeed Hell Hath No Fury is merely the 4th best rap album with the word "Hell" in the title, following Raising Hell, Cage's Hell's Winter, and the best of the bunch, Mobb Deep's Hell on Earth. Hauntingly bleak and brilliant in its simplicity. Hell on Earth might not match the dystopian perfection of its predecessor, The Infamous, but remains one of the finest hip-hop albums ever made.
Havoc, the architect of Mobb Deep's sound might've been able to give Rza and Premier some competition for the title of the best producer of the mid-90s NYC scene. With sonics full of hypnotic and ominous piano loops, gritty crackling drums and eerie synths, Havoc's beats seem grimy and raw, beautifully matching Prodigy's haunting and vivid tales of Queensbridge. Unlike the Internet's favorite flavor of the month rappers, Hell on Earth is full of great cinematic storytelling, something the Clipse seem incapable of, wasting verses on non-stop bragging and boasting, opting to insert tired cliches and spending their entire album trying to think of different ways to make "key/ki" drug jokes.
Granted, it's easy to poke fun at Mobb Deep in the year 2006, especifally after the abortion that was Blood Money and all inevitable suckitude (because it's new word Tuesday) that accompanies 50 Cent where ever he goes. But approximately a decade ago, before the Summerjam fiasco, there were few more fierce sounding individuals on wax. It's certainly not a coincidence that the group's music hyped Eminem's 8 Mile character before going on-stage. Even after having long since sold out, Prodigy and Havoc still seem more menacing than the Clipse, who have repeatedly proclaimed themselves B.F.F. (Pusha T-'s words...I think) with the Neptunes and Justin Timberlake. Yup, that Timberlake/Clipse collabo "Like I Love You" was nothing if not rough, rugged and raw. Almost as good as "Shook Ones Pt. II."
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When push comes to shove, classic rap albums are merely the sum of classic songs, an area where Hell on Earth shines in contrast. Hell Hath No Fury can't match the murderous and savage "God Pt. III." It doesn't have the Tupac-smashing "Drop a Gem on Em. It has guest appearances from Slim Thug and Pharrell. In contast, Hell on Earth gets a scorching Method Man guest verse on "The Extortion," a slick Cuban Linx-era Raekwon on "Nighttime Vultures," and 16 bars of classic Nas on "Give It Up Fast."
If you haven't heard vintage Mobb Deep and you love Hell Hath No Fury than you're in for a treat. You can buy Hell on Earth here. And if you have heard it before and still are blown away by the genius of Hell Hath No Fury, than please send me whatever it is that you're smoking. I imagine you must have the hook-up and obviously got it 4 cheap.
Mobb Deep: "Nighttime Vultures" from Hell on Earth (right-click, save as)
Mobb Deep: "God (Pt. III)" from Hell on Earth (right-click, save as)
Mobb Deep: "Shook Ones Pt. 2" from The Infamous (right-click, save as)
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