The past year for Prodigy has been an interesting one to say the least. It appeared Mobb Deep had officially disbanded last summer when a “group hiatus” quickly turned into a bizarre beef between Havoc and Prodigy, playing out via Twitter. Despite some harsh words thrown by Havoc during the split, Prodigy stayed upbeat about the duo’s future. Then in March, fences were mended and the beloved duo was suddenly back together like nothing had happened.
In the midst of this war of words with his Mobb Deep brother, P dropped two solo projects – H.N.I.C. 3 and The Bumpy Johnson Album. Like much of his post-prison release work, the records were a mixed bag – but the same could said about almost any Prodigy or Mobb Deep related project from the past decade. The one true gem during that time was 2007’s Return Of The Mac, a collaboration album with The Alchemist – and it should also come as no surprise that much of P’s best work in recent memory featured Alchemist behind the boards – so when the two team up for Albert Einstein, fans of both expect some high quality Hip-Hop.
With the steadying presence of a single producer, Prodigy is much more consistent on Albert Einstein than his previous two albums. But he’s hardly breaking any new ground with his raps. Both Prodigy and Alchemist are aware that the hardcore Mobb Deep audience is not asking for them to reinvent the wheel. P is at his strongest when he’s in an arrogant mindset, and spends much of the LP displaying just that.
The Alchemist provides an ominous background on “Stay Dope” for the veteran emcee to spit his braggadocio; “These rappers is frauds/ my artwork is expensive/ they cannot afford” ["Give ‘Em Hell"]. The New Yorker also champions his longevity in the game on “Raw Forever” over a vintage Alchemist beat.
The most interesting moments on Albert Einstein, though, come when Alchemist switches things up and brings Prodigy out of his comfort zone, sonically. The smooth Cali vibes of “Y.N.T.” fit guest Domo Genesis perfectly, but the aggressive bars of Prodigy feel out of place. But in other cases, The Alchemist’s challenge works well.
The eclectic mix of flutes, horns and dog barks employed by ALC on “Curb Ya Dog” inspires Prodigy to deliver his best lyrical performance on the album. P is in vintage form here; “When we debate rap wars, money and plaques/ it’s not a fact/ let’s hear the raw/ that you wrote/ curb ya mouth, you muzzle that jaw/ you ain’t saying nay that we wanna hear/ take a walk, run from it in front my face/ move like you got somewhere to go and act like you late.”
Despite that highlight from the veteran, it’s one of the few times the QB native will have you transfixed on his words like the good ‘ole days. Prodigy keeps things very simple here, which results in a very repetitive album. And by playing it safe, P is consistently shown up by his guests as Raekwon, Roc Marciano, Action Bronson and even his Mobb Deep cohort Havoc make him look like the inferior rhymer on their respective appearances.
Albert Einstein succeeds at satiating the dedicated Mobb Deep fans with a record that presents the trademark style and sound expected when Prodigy and The Alchemist collaborate. While this LP may not be particularly memorable, it’s also not a chore to listen to either – these two know their formula works.