Album: Episodes of a Hustla​

Big Noyd is nothing if not urgent. From the first utterance on his unforgettable introduction, “What up, cousin?”—on Mobb Deep’s “Give Up the Goods (Just Step)”—Noyd’s distict high pitch grabs listeners by the teeth. Followed, and complemented, by his careening cadence and violent visuals the verse was an instant classic. So when he and the Mobb reconnected the following year on Noyd’s first single, “Recognize & Realize,” they aimed to rekindle the same magic, and did they ever.

Uptempo with spare bass hits and a haunting vocal sample—a trope producer Havoc would exploit again and again on the group’s ‘96 album Hell on Earth—Noyd jumps on the one and lets loose with exquisite dunn language: “The trife life of living famous/bussin’ shots live is dangerous, at midnight, we do it right in clear blue light… Mad agony havin’ me more vex/got me pullin’ out techs on opposite sex, the cream got me fiend.” Dude was under more pressure than Bowie and Mercury, lawdamercy! Peak Prodigy follows, moving effortlessly around the track’s quick clip. With more commas than Mark Zuckerberg and only modest regard for rhyme scheme, each line lands like a hammer. “It’s the P, me and N-O-Y-D/put our cheddar together, so could double up O-Zs, and grow like a family tree, and bean stalks/some hustlers, naturally born with street smarts.” Quintessential Mobb music, “Recognize & Realize” may not have shifted the landscape, but it is nonetheless a perfect snapshot of the QB at it’s finest. Now what's fuckin' with that? —Noah Callahan-Bever