Havoc Hidden Files

Hidden Files is the Mobb Deep member's second solo album. One wonders why he bothered. The instrumentals are consistent, if unremarkable, but the real issue is the rapping — these beats would serve a more distinctive rapper well but Havoc floods the album with dead-eyed gun talk and clichéd club songs. The guest spots don't help much either; Prodigy's catatonic mumble on "On A Mission" doesn't bode well for future Mobb albums. "Heart of The Grind" is the lone highlight; it's a mid-tempo NYC groove with clipped strings and ominous keys that echoes Havoc's best work. Removed of its tired MCing, Hidden Files works better as an instrumental record, as Havoc offers interesting variations on the classic Mobb sound — listen to the tablas and sitar licks on "Clap 'Em Up" or the Asian vibes of "This Is Where It's At." Havoc has stated that Hidden Files is a collection of recent leftovers and it shows. At best the album should motivate Mobb Deep fans to dig up The Infamous and Hell On Earth to remind themselves how good Havoc can be. (E1)