Prodigy's H.N.I.C., Pt. 2 landed as the Mobb Deep member was beginning a three-and-a-half year sentence on unlawful gun possession charges. It also follows his excellent Return of the Mac album by just a little over a year, although Prodigy has taken to calling that effort a "mixtape" even when it looked and played like your standard issue full-length. Put these two facts together and it might explain why the ambitious H.N.I.C., Pt. 2 is a near masterwork, an almost classic that just can't lift its head over the bar Return of the Mac placed so high. Compared to that album, H.N.I.C., Pt. 2 is a much more varied and traditional effort with producer Alchemist stepping aside occasionally to let folks like Apex, Sid Roams, and Prodigy's Mobb Deep brother Havoc behind the boards. Roams gives "ABC" a wonderful nightmare texture while Apex kills on "It's Nothing" by hyping up Prodigy's usual horror show backing tracks into something much more frantic and brittle. Havoc's church organ loop gives "I Want Out" a fittingly dramatic sound for a pre-prison goodbye song, plus a reminder of how much the Mobb Deep attitude will be missed. "This is usually the part of the movie where the pistol comes out" is how Prodigy deals with his inescapable situation, but his promise to return and dominate is sure. The stunning "Veterans Memorial, Pt. 2" sheds light on where it all began as the rapper recounts the first jewelry store robbery he pulled off with dad and tells of childhood memories of Havoc's brother "Killer" ("They shot him in his head /Killer ran home/Took some Advil/Pulled the bullet out on his own"). Besides being Alchemist's greatest moment, "Young Veterans" warns the freshman thug that this desolate life is no place for the weak, but when the redundant murder numbers begin halfway through, the album starts to numb and the stories become less effective. Strangest and most disposable of all is the "ABC" remix which uses some kind of translation software to turn the Prodigy's English verses into Spanish language rapping. Odd that his last track before lockup would be a gimmicky, oddball sounding remix, plus there's an overall feeling that the uneven H.N.I.C., Pt. 2 was rushed. Not so surprising considering P's legal situation and taking the highlights into account, it's even forgivable. Hardcore fans will be down with every cold hard minute, everybody else gets a B+ effort, and the hip-hop game as a whole gets a really good reason to save Prodigy's place at the table for the next three-and-a-half years.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries