As if serving three years for gun possession wasn’t enough to solidify his street cred, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy has decided to name his post incarceration album after the infamous Harlem mob boss Ellsworth ‘Bumpy’ Johnson. Bumpy by name and bumpy by nature, P’s lyricism struggles to make an impact over the rudimentary, unimaginative beats of his long-term production associates Alchemist and Sid Roams.
The opening track ‘Changes’ offers up a reflection on the transience of the rap industry: “Hip-hop goes through eras my man, the only thing constant is change.” This seems an ironic reflection from a rapper whose lyrical content is blatantly dated, as he apes the gritty, hardcore rhymes that he spat during Mobb Deep’s glory days of the mid-nineties.
The Bumpy Johnson LP does rise above mediocrity on numbers such as ‘Black Devil’ and the atmospheric ‘Twilight’ where Prodigy muses over the treacherous nature of life within the music industry and the hopelessness of living a ghetto lifestyle. P seems obsessed with asserting his realness throughout, most blatantly on ‘Hitman’ with lyrics such as: “I turn where you stand into a homicide scene, I’m a hit man.”
Although this posturing is an accepted part of rap music, the LP lacks any further depth or sense of purpose. The resultant listening experience rankles in its repetitiveness.In a nutshell: Dated, run of the mill rap.By Stephen Bance