After 4 albums with Mobb Deep, Prodigy made the leap from 1/2 of one of the greatest duos hip hop has seen, to solo artist. “H.N.I.C.” was critically aclaimed and solidified Prodigy as a commendable soloist. However, it was another 7 long years, a potential break up with Havoc, and a questionable G-Unit deal later that P released his sophomore effort, “Return Of The Mac.” Produced entirely by The Alchemist, this is a prequel to “H.N.I.C. II.”
1.) The Mac Is Back: An intro featuring Prodigy talking over a very soulful beat. Good choice for an intro, even though it doesn’t feature Prodigy rapping.
2.) Return Of The Mac (New York Shit): Featuring former Prodigy foe, Tupac, on the hook, this song contains very uptempo, 70’s blaxploitation-production. Complete with saxophones and all, Prodigy stays on his NY shit consistently, making for a great track.
3.) Stuck On You: Despite being released to the underground in 2004, this song (and also the album’s main single), is near perfect. A perfect sample is provided by The Alchemist, as Prodigy’s laid back flow completes the track. Good effort.
4.) Mac 10 Handle: Great track. A grimey old school sample is used, and Prodigy takes advantage of it. With lines like “I sit alone in my dirty ass room, starin at candles, high on drugs”, P makes another very good song, suprising most at this point.
5.) Down & Out In New York City: An interlude, featuring smooth production. Although it’s just a skit, it fits the album perfectly, and is another showcase of The Alchemist’s skills as a producer.
6.) Rotten Apple: Possibly the best all around track on the album, P details the ruggedness in the rotten apple. With memorable lines such as “If Pac was still alive, we’d be on the same team/we got bigger fish to fry then that ***** Supreme”, Alchemist’s production is a gem once again.
7.) Madgesty Speaks feat. Madgesty: Pointless skit featuring Madgesty, dedicated to fallen soldiers – Tupac (of all people), Stretch, E-Money Bagz, and Kadafi.
8.) To The Top: A more mellow beat is used here, with what appears to be live instruments in the background. P’s lyrics are above average on this track, showcasing his unique style. The beat’s climatic overtone make for another good track.
9.) P Speaks: Yet another interlude featuring Prodigy looking back on old times, showing more of the mixtape side of the album.
10.) 7th Heaven: To contrast the mellow vibe of the album, Alchemist serves P with some uptempo funk. A threatening Prodigy demonstrates the gangsta image he brought to the game back in ’95. Above average track.
11.) Bang On Em: Another mellow track, featuring Prodigy at his best. Not as lyrical as previous tracks, it’s more of P’s bragadocious side. This is more reminiscent of “H.N.I.C.”, with Prodigy detailing “All I care about is music, and who I gotta cut.” Good track, with another perfect 70’s inspired beat.
12.) Nickel & A Nail: Superb production on this track makes it a standout. Prodigy’s demonstrates a faster flow, then his usual laid back style. “Some chose ballin, music was my calling”, about sums up this track. It’s a gutter track, with a very mellow relaxing beat. The hook is a very old sample, blended with Prodigy’s chorus.
13.) Legends: After hearing the first 12 tracks, it’s more then obvious Alchemist provided Prodigy with pure crack. Another great production, featuring Prodigy detailing his personal come up. “Gangstas don’t die, we just turn to legends/ what we go through is hell, what the ***** is a heaven?”, showcase Prodigy’s personal demons and pain. Great track.
14.) Stop Fronting: Prodigy chooses to close out the album the same way he started. From Mac’s to chains, P’s gangsta swagger is most evident here. Although not the best track on the album, with a lackluster hook, the verses and production make up for what would’ve been an average track. Good way to close out the album.
In conclusion, this album is billed as a mixtape. But if P had chosen to, any one of these tracks could’ve fit “H.N.I.C. II.” The only drawback from this album receiving a perfect rating, is the lack of songs. P shows no miscues, and proves he hasn’t fallin off, despite his lackluster effort on Mobb Deep’s “Bloody Money.” If “H.N.I.C. II”, is anywhere as good as this, it will no doubt be a classic. So, in the words of Prodigy, “this the mixtape, imagine how the album sound.”
Overall rating: 4.5/5