Prodigy’s gravelly voice is instantly recognizable to fans of New York rap, and with Mobb Deep partner Havoc, he’s put in a lot of work over the years. The days of platinum plaques are long gone, yet the gritty sound of the Queens vet persists. Mobb Deep hasn’t been able to find its stride over the past few years as Prodigy and Hav have been at odds, taking jabs at each other on Twitter and fueling gossip headlines. Releasing H.N.I.C 3 last year after a three-year prison bid, Prodigy has evidently been productive recording while also touring as Mobb Deep. His latest project Albert Einstein is a full-length album with longtime Mobb Deep affiliate, producer Alchemist.
The instrumentals on the 16-track record are nearly all hazy and subdued, perfectly suited for P’s voice. However, the first half of Albert Einstein seems like one long song, with Prodigy at times rapping lazily, as if he’s sitting down in the recording booth. The rhymes are unimaginative – yet grimy, which is a Mobb Deep trademark – and are generally consistent with previous fare. With pedestrian lyrics and Alchemist’s minimalist production, Prodigy seems to drudge through the instrumentals without energy on the album’s first few songs, rendering them forgettable. Alchemist went for a moody sound like this in his earlier collaboration with Curren$y; that worked much better than it does here.
The album picks up on “YNT,” as Prodigy seems to wake up and deliver poignant rhymes to follow Domo Genesis, who contributes an engaging verse to start the song. Prodigy flexes his veteran status here, at one point questioning fans’ loyalty and bringing up the late Nate Dogg. With the frenetic drums on “R.I.P.” and verses from Raekwon and Havoc, the song is an instant throwback to vintage Mobb Deep and is Albert Einstein’s highlight.
It’s head-scratching, to say the least, why this album is titled Albert Einstein, even though Prodigy shares his government first name with the great scientist. While Alchemist is indeed a crate-digging genius, Prodigy himeself comes across as uninspired. The listener will find that the guests actually have the more memorable verses; that’s certainly the case with “The One,” which features an intricate verse from this year’s XXL freshman Action Bronson. Albert Einstein isn’t Prodigy’s best showing, and the soulful production from Alchemist is just about the only great quality to be found here. And even that gets repetitive at times, unfortunately.