Prodigy – H.N.I.C. 3 | Mixtape Review

The handcuffs have been off for awhile and the cell door unlocked but one of New York’s most revered emcees finally returns to the circuit of Organised Crime rap.

The Infamous Mobb Deep‘s Prodigy wins respect from old heads and newcomers with each passing year due to the empirical material which he and rhyme partner Havoc dropped in the early ’90s, rightfully solidifying their place in raps folklore. But P is no stranger to going on tracks solo, releasing the excellent (but criminally slept on) HNIC album back in 2001. In 2012, the Head Negro in Charge adds a third chapter to the acclaimed chronicles, aiming to meet the expectations of those still gripped by the street tales of Queens’ long time representative.

The release from prison last year would inevitably have some bearing on the rapper’s content, and “Redemption Song” – the mixtape opener – touches on this issue, in addition to more proclamations that P is still the hardest out, whether judging by mic ability or power on the streets.

It’s a meeting of old NY and new when Prodigy teams up with French Montana on “Lay Low” (the first of two collaborations with Montana on the mixtape) where the sinister vibes on hand sync well with Montana’s signature drawl on the hook.

With all the producers on hand to welcome P back into the winners circle, it’s his reunion with the Havoc crafted beats which creates some of the highlights on HNIC 3. Hav’s haunting processions from past works are revisited, with cuts such as “That’s Nasty” and “Extreme” containing such an aura. Prodigy’s monotonous flow still remains greasy, shocking yet enthralling, with the former G Unit affiliate sounding hungrier than ever.

Producer Sid Roames finds his work at the mercy of rappers P, Havoc and Lady Luck on “Make A Hole,” in which some dope soul samples are meshed with the gully arrangements of the said producer, leaving the trio to pierce the production with heavyweight bars. Surprisingly, collaborations are few – ranging from YM’s Cory Gunz to Brick Squad’s Wacka Flocka Flame. H.

N.I.C 3 doesn’t lose any of its spark from these features as Prodigy’s first outing since his jail stint provides many solid performances from him. Still, standout features from Gunz on “Great Spitters” in addition to working with Havoc again cover up more than the few blemishes which are on hand on the 26 track heavy project.

Although an appeasing listen for such a lengthy mixtape, the duration of H.N.I.C makes for an enduring task to consume all of the material on hand, and with Prodigy remaining stubborn in his allegiance to all things ‘gangsta’, the final third of tracks such as “Bottles Go Bang,” “No One Can Stop Us” and more feel sluggish and could have been omitted for a future mixtape or EP.

Regardless of the length and repetitive material, H.N.I.C 3 is a welcome return for a legendary emcee, whose well documented beefs and prison stint have somewhat taken away from the fact that Prodigy has been one of the most consistent and influential spitters for over a decade now. Sounding more like an album than a mixtape, Prodigy’s incarcerated rhymes are seasoned with much frustration, remorse and hunger; something which many may have felt he lost before being locked up.

Although various QB affiliates like Noyd, Twin Gambino and co are missing from this instalment of the H.N.I.C series, the supporting cast represent well with Havoc being the most influential of names, offering both bars and beats to his longtime friend. It’s the return which many would have hoped for as Prodigy maintains his hardened rap persona with stone cold verses, which will keep his name ringing in the streets for some time.

DOWNLOAD: Prodigy – H.N.I.C. 3 [Mixtape]