From Big Noyd to 40 Glocc [click to read], Mobb Deep has been responsible for introducing quite a few artists. Still, few of these offspring have ever successfully endured outside of their feature roles with Prodigy [click to read] and Havoc [click to read]. One distinguished emcee, Big Twins f/k/a Twin Gambino, shined throughout 2002's Infamous Mobb debut album, Special Editon. Overtop some of Alchemist's [click to read] best production on a track named after him, Twins described himself as a "grimy nigga, who loves to drink beer." Scratchy vocals, simple rhymes and a quintessential Queensbridge attitude drive The Project Kid, but the top-shelf production is most certainly the gas in the tank.
Unlike many of his Mobb affiliate peers, Twins uses his album to remind you that Hip Hop is thickly woven into his fabric. DJ Babu [click to read] demonstrates deft turntablism in a track that links the Infamous style with its MC Shan and Juice Crew [click to read] influence on the intro. The album also has a strong Mobb influence. Prodigy reminisces the old days with an honest lens on "Bacon & Cheese." Here, P shows a rare glimpse of humility, and admits to losing a fair one or two as a young'in. "Drop 'Em Off" is another high-rising collaboration between student and teacher. This cut ignores the vulnerable to assert the fact that Infamous is a tight click, and both take pot-shots at a nameless, banished former affiliate. Twins' voice is his calling-card. The emcee is more "step your game up" than "Hip Hop Quotable," but it his convictions and blue-collar approach to subject matters and the rhymes themselves that make him not only unique, but a nice vacation from Webster's-toting emcees in skinny jeans.
Where the rhymes may lack, the production picks up. "When I Walk Away" questions impact and legacy. While Twins' story is tangential, Alchemist's MPC programming is so over the top that the track truly comes to life. Sid Roams' (Joey Chavez and Bravo) sound has developed fiercely. "Get 'Em" uses suspenseful synth lines to make the search party discussed in the vocals happen in real time. For a decade-plus veteran like Chavez, this feels like the most distinguished music of the California producer's career. Jake One [click to read] also checks in with a scorcher in "How I Feel...," with an interesting chamber chorus sample and bouncing chord progressions. Twins catches the beat perfectly, and uses the chorus as an anger management therapy session. Surprisingly, it may be Havoc's two contributions that are most outshined, but not by much. Few albums in 2009 are handled entirely by a staff of producers as respected as Jake, Al, Sid Roams and Havoc - but this may be a testament to Twins' style and patience.
If New York grimy gangsta rap is out of style, Queens didn't get the memo. Like borough-brother Blaq Poet [click to read], Big Twins' puts emphasis on subject-matter and delivery above lyricism. Unlike the Screwball emcee, Twins uses futuristic production to carry the torch. Sid Roams, Alchemist and Jake One deserve as much credit as the emcee in one of the true tucked-away gems of the year, and arguably the best Mobb off-shoot release since Special Edition six and a half years ago.