Ten years ago the mixtape was revived with the success of 50 Cent & G-Unit turning a run of mixtapes into one of the greatest rap albums ever made, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. At the same (damn) time, Cam’ron and The Diplomats were also heavy in the streets with their Diplomats series of tapes that culminated in one of the best double rap albums ever made, Diplomatic Immunity. The formula for the Diplomats was one of a leadership role by Cam’ron, with Jim Jones and Juelz Santana playing front court while a slew of other talented artists known as Dipset came in off the bench to deliver street raps and punchlines over epic production. We look back now and see the classic run that Dipset made and it’s incredible how Killa assembled such a great group of rappers with such chemistry and made such an impact in the game. Fast forward to today and we got one of the best mixtapes out right now consisting of the same formula, only this time instead of Cam and the Dips, it’s Maino and the Mafia, and the comparisons are endless and incredible, while the music is still just as fire.
The mixtape, headed by Maino, features PUSH!, Lucky Don, Twigg Martin and Hustle Hard Mouse. From front to back the level of energy is hyper than a Meek Mill record and the level of lyricism is on point. I’ve spoken on PUSH! (formerly PUSH! Montana) here before but I just have to reiterate that this MC is not to be slept on. Dead ass, PUSH! has every positive quality that Jay had from the jump, a vicious flow, emotion, and wordplay that forces you to play back verses multiple times just to catch every brilliant line he spits. I’m not overexaggerating when I say that PUSH! is one of the best rappers in the game right now. And that’s where the comparison to the Diplomats is all that more impressive, they never had anyone as lyrical as PUSH!. Jim Jones and Juelz were greater counterparts to Cam’s star power but neither have bars as quotable as PUSH!, so The Mafia is like a Bulls championship team, with Maino and PUSH! as the Jordan and Pippen. I’ve also never seen anyone put on for his team as much as Maino does. This tape isn’t about him, it’s about The Mafia. While Maino has a couple of verses, he mostly sticks to doing hooks on tracks and lets the crew put their talents on display, even giving a couple artists (including PUSH!) their own solo tracks. The result is a powerhouse tape full of anthems and straight up raw lyrics, it’s kind of like what a Slaughterhouse album should have been.
The other three in the crew can’t be overlooked either. Lucky Don is a beast on the mic, and honestly he vocally reminds me of Hell Rell. Hustle Hard Mouse got a style that’s simple but effective. He lays out bars that need no reflection but make their point, and that’s important to be able to get people to easily relate and understand. Finally you got Twigg Martin who rounds out the swag in the group, and has one of the most exuberant personalities on the mic. His lyrical abilities can’t go unnoticed either as he certainly has the bars to match with his peers.
Whether or not the magic of the Diplomats will reoccur with The Mafia is left to be seen. But if they keep making music like this tape there’s no doubt their impact will be felt. While artists like Meek Mill are at the forefront of the street rap game on the mainstream side, groups like The Mafia as well as artists like Troy Ave and Freddie Gibbs are the true MVPs of the genre, and as PUSH! says on his brilliant When PUSH! Comes To Shove Vol. 2 tape, “as long as there’s gangsta shit in these streets that’s going on, there’s gonna be gangsta shit in these songs”, meaning that there always be a market for this type of hip hop, and as far as right now today, no one is coming close to matching the level of talent that The Mafia is delivering.