There’s an interesting strain of East Coast rap songs from the last few years that is so dark it goes beyond urban nihilism and into the apocalyptic – music that is fit for the end of the world.
Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm” is an example most have probably heard and sounds like a mix of desperation, futile hopefulness and nostalgia. “I used to bust shots crazy, I couldn’t even look because the loud sounds used to scare me (pow!…).” Anyone who heard the name “Quiet Storm” and expected Luther Vandross must have been disappointed.
The lyrics are inky tales of street survival, but it is the sounds that transcend the darkness of most street rap and recede into the night. The bass throb sounds like an unanswered beeper vibrating on a car hood under a big black sky or roiling storm clouds. The track is supposed to be optimistic – “I spent too many nights sniffing coke, yeah right, wasting my life, now I’m trying to make things right”) – and details a better life for the next generation (a constant theme in rap) – but how can anyone believe it will happen over that doomed beat?
I really only know Mobb Deep through singles and guest verses, so I can’t say if the song works differently in the context of “Murda Muzik.”
There’s also a strange remix or mega mix out there. I couldn’t find much about the history of this track, but I like how it injects some extra creepiness into an already menacing song with Ward 21’s manic, jumbled appearance. It’s jarring at first, but if Ward 21 is the joker to Mobb Deep’s thief, it makes sense. The Dre/Snoop appearance, on the other hand, is unnecessary and breaks the mood.