Mobb Deep member Prodigy doesn't consider his upcoming "Return of the Mac" to be the true follow-up to his 2000 solo debut, "H.N.I.C." That's reserved for "H.N.I.C. 2," which is due out in late spring

Mobb Deep member Prodigy doesn't consider his upcoming "Return of the Mac" to be the true follow-up to his 2000 solo debut, "H.N.I.C." That's reserved for "H.N.I.C. 2," which is due out in late spring or early summer. "Return of the Mac," which hits on March 27, is a mix tape-style collaboration with the Alchemist that quietly became a mass market release.

"When we made ('Return of the Mac'), it was just like a warm-up tape, like a mix tape with a concept to it, just to get people ready for the next album," Prodigy (real name Albert Johnson) tells Billboard.com. "But the way Alchemist flipped it and put it all together as a package, it made it more than all that, and we started looking around for how we were gonna put it out."

Prodigy and the Alchemist went for an "old school" approach to "Return of the Mac," which was inspired by images of a gold Mack 10 necklace Prodigy wore in the early days of Mobb Deep. "It definitely has a vibe of something from a classic era, like, from the '70s musically," notes the Alchemist (ne Alan Maman), who's also Eminem's touring DJ and was one of the producers of the Shady Records compilation "Eminem Presents: The Re-Up." "We meshed together the old sound with the concept of New York City and Prodigy not giving a f*ck and taking it back to that element."

"We figured we were gonna just throw it on the street," he continues. "But once we started creating it, it had its own vibe and developed into what it is now, which is, basically, an album."

"Return of the Mac" has already made some noise with a video for "Mac 10 Handle," which has registered some 200,000 hits on YouTube. The duo also plans to shoot a video for "Stuck on You," the album's first proper single.

Prodigy and The Alchemist are well ensconced in making "H.N.I.C. 2," which the rapper says is a much more focused endeavor. "'The Return of the Mac' is just a warning shot; on ('H.N.I.C. 2'), people are gonna get hit," Prodigy warns. "I don't play on my album. My first one was a testament to that. People know I'm not playing."

"H.N.I.C. 2" will also join the Alchemist's next album, "Chemical Warfare," and "The Kush," a solo outing by Mobb Deep partner Havoc, all of which should be out by summer. The Alchemist says the three plan to tour together, and there's talk about a large-scale summer stadium tour that might be headlined by Eminem and 50 Cent, both of whom are working on new music.

"We're all family, so it's easy to work together," the DJ says. "It's gonna be a good year, man. I'm excited."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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