Ben’s Brilliant Best Albums of the 1990s. No. 72. Mobb Deep – Hell on Earth

Can we talk about G.O.D. Pt. III for a second? Because, oh my, that song is a work of art. It is has a deceptively simple backing, a drum loop from a Little Feat song over sample from the Scarface soundtrack, but it grips you and holds on, occupying a space in your brain and claiming exclusive rights to it for the next five minutes. The verses are hypnotic, the chorus perfect. When it is playing you hear nothing else.

It is far easier for albums to remain good than to stay astonishing, I think. The age of a record doesn’t stop you noticing its quality but will dull its impact. Hearing, say, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake now it is almost impossible to imagine how it would have sounded hearing it in 1968. This is doubly true of hip hop, which saw production techniques advance incredibly quickly in an incredibly short amount of time. A lot of hip hop from the 20th Century seems almost quaint now, tinny and slight. Not so, Hell on Earth, which is still really really fucking heavy. Almost too heavy. Sometimes the temptation to skip to G.O.D. Pt. III is too strong. It isn’t really an album you would recommend to somebody new to hip hop, but it is a jewel to be discovered if you are exploring the genre.