G.O.D.Father, Ty Nitty and Twin Gambino want you to know one thing - even though they are closely affiliated with Mobb Deep, the two groups are NOT one in the same. Like their Mobb Deep breddern, they grew up on the 41st Side of Queensbridge, so it's natural for the crews to not only share a similar sound and similar slang, but to cameo on each other's albums and show the same love for their QB roots. Eager to follow up on the success of their 2002 release "Special Edition" after years of frustration at getting their music out due to music industry politics, "Blood Thicker Than Water Vol. 1" is the result.
Perhaps anxious to prove that they really do stand on their own two, very little direct connection to Mobb Deep is found on the release. Havoc doesn't produce any tracks. Prodigy only has one cameo appearance on "Empty Out (Reload)." Even long-time Mobb affiliated producer Alchemist only contributes the track "Gunz Up" and it doesn't even feature the Mobb - rather it's more of a "bonus track" starring Lennox and featuring Chinky. That's not to say the tracks aren't hot. Ric Rude's somber rock-influenced "The Future" will remind you of Prodigy's famous line "heavy metal for the black people." On "Watch Your Step" Nucleus uses horns effectively to punctuate a rumbling background of bass and drums. Joey Chavez gives this East coast crew a refreshingly West coast Dilated Peoples style sound on "Who We Ride For." Numerous Massberg produced songs like "Greenback" and "Worldwide" grimy, rugged hip-hop. Sebb gives things a Kanye West twist on "More Hoes Than Hefner" and eeriely mimics DJ Premier on "U Know the Ratio." In short, the beats on this disc are solid.
Now that you know about the strengths of "Blood Thicker Than Water Vol. 1" it's time you find out about the shortcomings. The first is charisma. Whether it's fair or not, it's safe to say that Ty, G.O.D. and Twin just don't have the same ability to draw you into a song with their vocals that Mobb Deep does. Their styles even seem a little bit mismatched. Gambino has a coarse gravelly voice, G.O.D. is a deep voiced dead ringer for Prodigy, while Nitty sounds a little bit nerdy, especially in comparison to the other two. While there's no doubt they roll crew deep and always have due to their smooth verbal tag team on songs like "Greenback" and "Who We Ride For," it still seems odd to the ear even though it's perfectly natural to them. Further to be perfectly honest, Twin Gambino's voice is unpleasant. This rough textured rapper doesn't create emotional tension or verbal emphasis with his flows. What he does create is a tendency to reach for the fast forward button, because hearing him try to squeeze a rap through a vocal box more shattered than the D.O.C.'s throat is at best painful and at worst must be like hearing Yoko Ono sing Christmas carols.
If you can look past Gambino's tendency to trainwreck the album's best songs, "Blood Thicker Than Water Vol. 1" isn't that bad. The topic matter unforunately is not that quotable since none of the group members say anything that memorable ot witty. In fact in his one cameo Prodigy upstages all three with the words, "The DNA, that'll have Bush shittin in his pants." As East coast gunclap style rappers go, they are all competent enough to satisfy your bullets to bodies ratio, but won't leave a lasting impression or cause you to say "Dunn really be dropping some gems with his rap." They talk about beepers, thousand dollar sneakers, and street sweepers - topics that are a dime a dozen for every hood across the country, and do not elevate the trio any further than "slightly above average." While you can listen to this album from start to finish on the quality of the music alone, that's about all that it's good for. Instead of capitalizing on their notoriety and past success, Infamous Mobb seems to have slipped into "well this is good enough" mode, and don't generate any interest for "Vol. 2."
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10
Originally posted: June 8, 2004