Tuesday, November 18, 2014

M.O.P.'s "Street Certified"

A few days after I announced on the blog that I'll be doing an M.O.P. project in 2015, I found out, via Twitter, a few days later that they would be dropping a new EP, the creatively titled "Street Certified," which would be their first project since 2011's "Sparta". I'm really looking forward to this one, and at this point in time in hip hop, my excitement for new albums usually comes from artists that I've been supporting for a long time, respectively. So, with no further delay, it's time for the "street certified" sounds of M.O.P!

[Note: The EP was released November 18th on iTunes, the CD and Vinyl versions will be released December 2nd.]

1. "Welcome To Brooklyn"
Featuring Maino
Produced By ChuckHeat 
Well, you can never go wrong with an opener talking in detail about where you come from. Granted, Billy and Fame have covered this particular topic since '93, however, you can never show too much love to your hometown, especially when it's done right like this. Over the last year or so, I've lost a little respect for Maino (which is another story), but he was decent here with his appearance. Good start.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Broad Daylight"
Featuring Busta Rhymes
Produced By I Fresh

Over a well worked Jay Z sample, this I Fresh produced cut is a definite banger, featuring a DAMN good verse by Fame. Busta's verse was a little odd to these ears, but he didn't interrupt the flow of this one.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Hustle"
Produced By Beat Butcha

Looking at the title alone would suggest it's something we have heard before. That's true, but again, when it's done right, it usually makes for a good song. Billy and Fame bring a refreshed perspective to the "hustling" theme, especially considering where they are in their careers at this point.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Shake Em Up"
Produced By Jazi Moto

Now this is what would call "vintage M.O.P." and I'll leave it at that. Dope stuff.
*4 out of 5*

5. "Heistmasters"
Produced By DJ Skizz

Oh yes, from "To The Death" to "Street Certified," ain't a damn thang changed as far as Billy and Fame are concerned. More dope stuff here.
*4 out of 5*

6. "187"
Produced By Fizzy Womack

I REALLY like this one right here. If you didn't think they had something to say about the truly watered down state of hip hop as well as the total, unfortunate lack of a presence on radio, think again. They let it all out on this fast paced banger with its welcomed throwback vibe.
*4.5 out of 5*

7. "Street Certified"
Featuring Mobb Deep
Produced By I Fresh

If my memory serves correctly, the last time Billy and Fame collaborated with Havoc and Prodigy was back in 96-97 for Frankie Cutlass' "Politics & Bullshit" album. The song in question, which also featured Kool G Rap, was "Know Da Game," and it was about as dope as you would except. THIS joint, loyal reader, is ANOTHER banger on this EP, quite frankly the best song on it. All bring such aggressive flows, especially a seemingly inspired Prodigy, and work I Fresh's beat SO well. 
*5 out of 5*

8. "No Shame"
Produced By Phatboy

The subject of life in general and friendships bring out the underrated introspective side of Billy and Fame.
*4 out of 5*

9. "American Muscle"
Produced By Free Smith

Only these cats bring their brand of aggressive, East Coast hip hop (which is still alive and well) and mix it with a sense of patriotism that's not out of place. And being a patriotic man myself, this is a big plus!
*4 out of 5*

Loyal reader, as I was listening to this and putting the review together, I was getting my pre-order in for the CD, thanks to undergroundhiphop.com! Clocking in at 9 songs and about 32 minutes total, this is an incredibly DOPE EP from M.O.P. I wasn't expecting anything less and I'm satisfied with what I got. I honestly can't say "fully satisfied" because after "American Muscle," I was left wanting more! In short, Billy Danze and Lil' Fame STILL it have after 20 years in the game and haven't loss one step in my view. 4.5 stars for this EP and I hope this is nothing but a teaser for what they have coming next. Strong recommendation for this!

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