Big Noyd

Episodes of a Hustla

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At the dawn of the 1990s, most New York rappers weren't nearly as threatening as the gangsta rappers who were coming from the West Coast. But Queens took a more threatening turn later in the decade, when the borough gave us such hardcore rappers as Capone-N-Noreaga and Mobb Deep. These guys were all of the things that California's gangsta rappers had been criticized for being -- violent, profane, crude and menacing. Another MC who came out of that scene was Big Noyd, who was featured on some of Mobb Deep's albums before recording his first solo project, Episodes of a Hustla. Most of the CD was produced by Mobb Deep's Havoc, whose partner Prodigy is featured on some of the material. As hardcore as this decent, though uneven, effort is, tunes like "Infamous Mobb," "It's On You" and "Recognize and Realize" really aren't gangsta rap (even though some consider Noyd a gangsta rapper). While Ice-T, the Geto Boys and N.W.A offered first-person narratives about crime in the ghetto, Noyd's approach is more rhetorical than anything. Noyd uses violent, disturbing imagery to create an atmosphere, but unlike Ice-T or Ice Cube, he's more interested in showing off his rhyming skills than making an overall statement about inner-city life. The end result is an album that, unlike N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton or Ice Cube's Death Certificate, isn't saying very much, but isn't without entertainment value.

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