Havoc & The Alchemist The Silent Partner Babygrande Records
In 1995, Mobb Deep’s Prodigy declared that: “I’m only 19, but my mind is old”. And who could disbelieve him? Both Prodigy and Havoc started out as kids (the duo’s first album was entitled Juvenile Hell), but their deep voices and ruthless lyrics made them sound not just fully-grown, but overgrown. They had seen too much ― and we couldn’t get enough of them.
Twenty years on, and The Silent Partner suggests a case of arrested development. For fans of The Mobb, this is good news. And while Prodigy’s health problems seem to have damaged his once-peerless voice (as evinced by his guest appearance here on The Gun Holds The Drum), both Havoc’s voice, and paranoid principles, are still standing.
Known as a talented beatmaker (Kanye recently had him help out on The Life of Pablo), here Havoc vacates the producer’s chair and lets The Alchemist sit in it. The Alchemist, needless to say, occupies it like a reclining leather throne. Sonically, the laid back soul of Maintain is a brief vacation in the sun on this otherwise very gritty, very anxious, very New York album. This is apt, since lyrically Havoc rarely ventures out of his comfort zone.
The brutal irony here is that Havoc’s comfort zone is a war zone. Growing up amidst lawlessness and desperation, wisdom is hard won, from hard men, and makes for hard reading: “You can say I’m paranoid, I don’t give a fuck, though / I don’t trust a motherfucker, everybody cut-throat.”
Havoc, however, continues to make such bleak words sound easy, and persuasive, to listen to―fit to be chiselled into stone, in fact, just as they were chiselled into him: “I was told, never trust a motherfuckin’ soul.”
DMX once proclaimed: “I trust a snake to be a snake”. The Silent Partner confirms that we can trust Havoc to be Havoc. And at the age of 41, that’s no small achievement.