Thursday, January 1, 2015

The M.O.P. Project: Aggression Personified


Oh man, I'm really excited to be creating and presenting this project right here! Representing Brownsville, Brooklyn N.Y., M.O.P., Lil Fame and Billy Danze, have been putting in work since 1993, definitely one of the most underrated duos in hip hop history. Their hardcore, aggressive style of hip hop has been quite effective since day one, with two of the key factors being that they stayed true to themselves and never switched up their sound for anyone. I can tell you right off the bat that the majority of this project will consist of me harping on "dope beats and rhymes" (and "appropriately/apply titled"), something that Fame and Danze have provided, usually with VERY tight results.

This project will show my love, respect, and appreciation for their contributions, starting with their '93 debut "To The Death" up to their most recent EP "Street Certified". And to make this project a little more interesting, I'm going to include a section after each album review titled "Essential M.O.P.", which will consist of their greatest songs. So, let's get this proverbial ball rolling with THE M.O.P. project!!!!!!





Release date: April 5, 1994


All songs produced by DR Period, except #15



1. "Crimetime 1-718" 
"Crooklyn, that's where it happen at!" Yes indeed, this brief intro sends us right into.....

2. "Rugged Neva Smoove"

"It's the Mash Out Posse, rugged neva smoove/M (fuckin) O (fuckin) P on the move!"

"The M.O.P.'s about to run this, you couldn't shun this/I'm leavin rappers wit the dumbness/Because I got no feelings like numbness" -Fame

"Don't be amazed if you're left in a daze/M.O.P. is in the place , so you chumps best behave!" -Danze


Man, talk about one of many songs that define M.O.P. and what they were about, so it's a complete understatement to say this was perhaps the best choice as the album's first song. Their back and forth, tag team styled raps would also define their sound. Raw, hardcore, rugged neva smoove indeed. Classic banger.
*5 out of 5*



3. "Ring Ding"

"A lot of people went to see that movie Posse/But ain't seen a real POSSE until you seen the M.O.P." -Fame


Another DR Period produced banger right here.  
*5 out of 5*



4. "Heistmasters"

At this point in hip hop, songs talking extensively about doing what it takes to get paid were not uncommon, even if said rapper(s) had to pull off a heist (on record) to get the job done. Fame and Danze brought their ideas to the scene, the Brownsville way.
*4 out of 5*

5. "Blue Steel"

Much like "Heistmasters" focused on doing what it took to get paid, this one here focused on another topic that was not uncommon in '94 (for better or worse depending on your perspective): gunplay. It was mostly about being protected at all costs and trust me we'll hear more of the "lyrical gunplay" talk from Fame and Danze throughout the rest of this project.
*4 out of 5*

6. "Who Is M.O.P?"
A BRIEF interview clip representing Fame, Danze, and the rest of the crew.

7. "To The Death"

In addition to the realism of the content and the unconditional love shown between the two men, what also made this stand out a bit was the West Coast vibe in terms of the beat, sounding like something you would've heard MC Eiht rock on at the time.
*5 out of 5*



8. "Big Mai"
A "rest in peace" shoutout from the crew.

9. "Top of the Line"

"This is the best son, there's no suggestion/Is M.O.P. in the muthafuckin house? No question!" -Fame

"Get stupid if you want static, and we'll go at it/Cross me and that'll force me to let you have it" -Danze

Simple yet effective and straight to the point.
*4.5 out of 5*

10. "This Is Your Brain"

11. "Drama Lord"

If you came with drama, Fame and Danze were ready, willing and able to meet you full on, no matter what the circumstances were. Straight lyrical aggression.
*4.5 out of 5*

12. "F.A.G."

The "F.A.G." acronym is short for "Fake Ass Gangstas", just wanted to throw that out there. And with that said, anyone fake received NO love from Fame and Danze and it wasn't limited to just rappers. Good song here.
*4 out of 5*

13. "How About Some Hardcore"

Oh man, talk about a classic that still holds up today! Is it safe to say that this is their best song ever??? Wow, even I'm not sure but it's up there. Also, while revisiting this, I really got the impression that this was their actual first recording based on the overall sound, and that's no knock at all. If it was, that's one hell of a job for a new duo. Classic material and one of their most well known songs. "How about some hardcore? Yeah we like it raw!" No doubt.
*5 out of 5*



14. "Positive Influences"
Lol, the guys laugh when they're asked "can they truly say their music promotes positive outlooks among its listeners". In fairness, it's an honest question and I'm sure 20 some years later, Fame and Danze would probably look back and likely would have a different answer. That's my guess though.

15. "Guns N Roses"
Produced By Silver D

"Lifestyles of a ghetto child/Gun over rose, choose your weapon or pick your pose" -Danze


Somewhat chilling words right there, however, it sums up the album's closer in a nutshell.
*4 out of 5*



Well, this was a VERY good debut for M.O.P., an album that truly showed what they were capable of, especially on the dope beats and rhymes front. Granted, there was still room for improvement (no knocks here), but as their careers progressed, they would get better in the process. Also, while "How About Some Hardcore" received a respectable amount of recognition, this debut unfortunately fell under the radar in '94, a STACKED year, and when you take a look at what was already happening that year in terms of albums being released, you can see why "To The Death" was slept on and not really appreciated like it should've been. Overall, like I said, a VERY good album.


4.5 STARS



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 





Release date: October 22, 1996 



*This album was overseen by DJ Premier, as well as producing most of the songs and the album was also dedicated to/for the love of Lynette Grinnage and Billy Danze's mother.



1. "Intro"
The unmistakable "boom bap" sound and scratched audio clips courtesy of Premier sets the tone for album number two.

2. "Firing Squad (Skit)"

3. "Firing Squad" 
Featuring Linwood Starling p.k.a. Teflon
Produced By DJ Premier

"Firing Squad
Ain't no tellin what they might do
Firing Squad
Tell them niggas we'll invite you
Firing Squad
To the battlefields so they can wipe you
Firing Squad
That's them niggas that don't like you!" 


The "firing squad" skit was certainly not needed, because this amped up, fully aggressive title track should've came directly after the brief intro. Continuing on, one song in and Fame & Danze already sound more aggressive and refined than they did on their debut. Teflon, whom I always considered the unofficial 3rd member of the crew, was not out of place at all and he was just as aggressive as Fame and Danze were. In another notable bit, Danze confirms the lack of attention the first time around and confirming their move from Select Records to Loud Records: "In '93 you barely heard us in the crowd/So we eject from Select and now our shit is bumpin' Loud!" One DOPE, piano laced, boom bap infused banger.
*5 out of 5*



4. "New Jack City"
Produced By DJ Premier

Hot damn, could these guys get any more aggressive! This fast paced banger has no connection to the classic movie of the same title, but this is another one of those joints that define the true M.O.P. sound, much like the title track and the next song.
*5 out of 5*



5. Stick 2 Ya Gunz
Featuring Kool G Rap
Produced By DJ Premier

"It's only one life to give it, get in where ya fit in" -Fame

"I been chasin and lacin tough guys for days/Findin' ways to erase em and blaze em in the grave/If it happen the squad's cappin, I'm in the mix/And I'd rather be judged by 12 than laid by six!" -Danze

"Buckin at all you sucka cluckin' niggas that want the ruckus/We'll be three niggas clappin but we ain't applauding you muthafuckas!" -Kool G Rap

"Keep my Mac hid up under back, two shots to crack lids/Ain't gotta go rush to Toys R Us to get your cabbage patched kid!" -Kool G Rap


HOT DAMN (again, lol), talk about an aggressive match made in heaven. This is another one of the finest "3 man collabos" you'll ever heard and it's all about that lyrical gunplay over one of the dopest Premo tracks ever. Need I say more?!
*5 out of 5*



6. "Anticipation"
Produced By M.O.P.
Co-Produced By Laze E Laze

Looking back, the anticipation was there for this album in '96. I remember looking forward to it quite a bit, even recalling ads promoting the album back in The Source and Rap Pages magazines, respectively. Good song here, featuring a well timed KRS-One sample courtesy of the classic "MCs Act Like They Don't Know". I also liked how the gave nods to their own songs throughout by mentioning the respective titles.
*4 out of 5*

7. "Born 2 Kill"
Produced By Big Jaz

It's ill, it's real, but still I feel/If provoked murder, nigga I'm born 2 kill" -Fame


Although the above line sums up this song quite well, there's somewhat of a storyline going on here, specifically the lead up and outcome of a shootout involving Fame and Danze on an apparent trial for murder. Both MCs leave each incidents unscathed.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Brownsville"
Produced By DJ Premier

Rather than take the "showin' love to the hometown" approach, Fame and Danze give an account, whether exaggerated or not, of how things were in Brownsville. Everything from drug selling, continuous gunplay ("turnin' a small section of Brooklyn into the O.K. Corral", Danze said), robberies, you name it, you pretty much hear it in this song.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Salute"
Produced By DJ Premier

"We tearin this shit down just like construction/Flipped like kilos wit' this Premo production" -Fame


This almost comes off like an interlude, but not quite. Another dope, fast paced song with the signature M.O.P. sound mixed with the always unmistakable boom bap production thanks to Premo.
*4 out of 5*

10. "World Famous"
Produced By Big Jaz

"It's the world famous, M.O.P., firing squad/Is Home Team in the muthafuckin house? No question!"


Yes indeed, about 6 years before Scarface's "My Block", this was the first song to utilize Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway's "Be Real Black For Me".


"I'm outspoken, niggas language is broken/Record labels need to stop that wack shit they be promoting" -Fame


WELL said, and with hindsight being 20/20, this applies MORE to today's hip hop scene than it did in '96, no question. Overall, dope stuff here.      
*5 out of 5* 



11. "Downtown Swinga ('96)"
Produced By DJ Premier

Listen as Premo does something no one else could probably do: take an almost soul vibe and create an aggressive banger to effective fit the lyrical displays of Fame and Danze. Oh yeah, it was also this song where Fame gives birth to the alias/nickname Fizzy Womack, which he would also go by as the years went on. More dope stuff here.
*5 out of 5*

"My people desire the line of fire kid, there's two options/You either get the fuck outta dodge or get to poppin" -Danze




12. "Lifestyles Of A Ghetto Child"
Featuring Teflon
Produced By Big Jaz

The title of this would suggest something introspective, but in fact it's the complete opposite. You could look at this in one of two ways: it's either a prequel to "Born 2 Kill" or it's an unofficial continuation of it.
*4 out of 5*

13. "Revolution"
Produced By M.O.P. and Laze E Laze

The guy on the mic just kept saying "the revolution is here" and asking the brothers and sisters "are we ready". Not sure what the entire point of this was, but it was about 4 minutes too long and the ONLY low point on this album.
*3 out of 5*

14. "Illside Of Town"
Produced By M.O.P. and Laze E Laze

This was "Brownsville Part 2", more or less.
*4 out of 5*

15. "Nothin 2 Lose"
Produced By All Dee

Fame and Danze do get a little deep on this one, recognizing and realizing that even with "every day being a test", "being forced to pay dues", "seeing everything", and even "smoking and drinking on the daily", they have nothin 2 lose. Very good song.
*4 out of 5*

16. "Dedication"
Premo and other radio personalities show love to Fame and Danze, as well as sending condolences to the men whose mothers had sadly passed away.

17. "Dead & Gone"
Produced By M.O.P. and Laze E Laze

I'm just noticing that this song was edited on the album, which is fine considering the nature of the content. Fame and Danze really tap into their introspective sides here, in Danze's case talking about loved ones lost and Fame making sure that not only he's still here to see his son become a grown man (which he has), but to also make sure his son is straight when he's gone. When songs like this are done right, they turn out to be excellent and they succeed with this one.
*5 out of 5*



18. "Born 2 Kill (Jazz Mix)"
Produced By Big Jaz

This was basically the same song as the original version, just with more singing.
*4 out of 5*



 M.O.P. joins the small list of hip hop artists whose second album was better than their first. Not only did they do everything on the first album better, they were more refined and more aggressive, resulting in a more cohesive sound. In addition to the crew starting to take up duties behind the boards, producers DJ Premier (especially), Big Jaz, Laze E Laze and All Dee REALLY put forth inspired production to match the sound of M.O.P. and it worked. Awesome album.


4.5 STARS


ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville




I've always liked their take on the cover of the classic John Travolta and Nicolas Cage movie "Face Off"

Release date: March 24, 1998



1. "Billy Skit"
A few words from Danze leads us right into.....

2. "Breakin' The Rules"
Produced By DJ Premier

The first of many apply titled songs on this album, a high powered opener to set the right tone. And speaking of "high powered", that brings us to THE next song!
*4 out of 5*

3. "4 Alarm Blaze"
Featuring Jay-Z and Tef
Produced By Laze E Laze

"You know the M.O.P. status/In the history of crime and rap we some of the baddest!" -Fame


Oh man, this was and still is one incredible, fast paced, aggressive song, featuring a NICELY used sample courtesy of Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger", and for those who have seen "Rocky III", a classic movie, knows what I'm talking about. I mean, Laze E Laze laced this beat proper with Fame, Danze, Jay, and Tef all working it supremely. Speaking of Jay, this was probably the most aggressive he's ever been on the mic and it worked. Note to aspiring MCs: need motivation for creating an aggressive song, listen to this and take notes!
*5 out of 5*



4. "Blood Sweat And Tears"
Produced By Laze E Laze

Fame put it best in his verse and he describes this song perfectly: blood for the brothers that died and the mothers that cried, brothers that tried, sweat when steady puttin in work, handlin dirt, holdin your turf and the tears shed for the loved ones, the thug ones, and deceased peers. Very good here.
*4 out of 5*

5. "Down 4 Whateva"
Featuring O.C.
Produced By M.O.P.

"I ain't playin no more, I'm gon bring it to ya ass raw/I flipped the word around nigga, this means WAR!" -O.C.


Another underrated talent, O.C., collaborates with Fame and Danze here, and much like Jay-Z on "4 Alarm Blaze", this was probably the most aggressive you'll ever hear the normally easy going, mellow O.C. You'll also notice as time goes on that when most artists get on a song with Fame and Danze, their level of aggression goes up almost immediately and that's not a bad thing to receive that type of influence and motivation. Note to aspiring MCs: when a talented artist begins to rub off on you, consider that a positive thing.
*5 out of 5*



6. "Facing Off"
Produced By M.O.P. and Laze E Laze

Chances are I'll be overrating this one, but it's all good. Fame and Danze score lots of creative points with me on this one, plus it was fitting to use a "face off" theme considering the album cover, lol. Speaking of said theme, they're not going against each other, but you get the vibe that they're in friendly competition with each other, first (and last) time ever most likely. They also rap to different beats in a nice touch. 
*5 out of 5*



7. "My Kinda Nigga Part II"
Featuring Heather B
Produced By Da Beatminerz

Now let's be clear, this second version is not better than its predecessor, but hot damn it's JUST as dope. Da Beatminerz, most famous for their productions with the Boot Camp Clik, provide another banger for Fame, Danze, and Ms. Heather B. True dopeness.
*5 out of 5*



8. "I Luv"
Featuring Freddie Foxxx
Produced By DJ Premier

Loyal reader, don't let the title of this one fool you. This is NOTHING soft, lol, it's the complete opposite: hard(core), rough, rugged, and raw. Fame and Danze bring their usual lyrical, aggressive heat, but Foxxx kills this one with his show stealing, closing verse. TIGHT to def!
*5 out of 5*



9. "Salute Part II"
Featuring Gang Starr
Produced By DJ Premier

Another very good song here. Listen closely and you'll hear another easy going MC in Guru get aggressive on the low alongside Fame and Danze.
*4 out of 5*

10. "Ride With Us"
Produced By Laze E Laze

If you've heard a song like this, even in '98, you've heard them all, but Fame and Danze come with their own perspective on the matter. And was it just me or did Danze sound different throughout this entire song for some reason?
*4 out of 5*


11. "Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)

Fame and Danze were in "Firing Squad" mode for this remixed banger.
*5 out of 5* 



12. "Fly Nigga Hill Figga"
Produced By M.O.P.

"We won't change or switch" -Danze

This joint also appeared on the "Streets Is Watching" soundtrack. I remember not being too impressed with it when I first heard it, but it grew on me after a while.
*4 out of 5*

13. "What The Future Holds"
Produced By M.O.P.

"Follow your dreams and follow your goals/Cause who knows what the future holds"


Fame and Danze come with motivation and a slight introspective vibe here in a feel good moment.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Downtown Swinga '98"
Produced By DJ Premier

These men knew how to make a sequel, and not only is this dope as hell, it's a lot better than the '96 version, respectively.
*5 out of 5*



15. "Fame Skit"
Fame has some words for us all.

16. "Brooklyn/Jersey Get Wild"
Featuring Treach
Produced By Laze E Laze

Yes indeed, Brooklyn and Jersey connect on this one, with Fame, Danze, and 1/3 of Naughty By Nature, Treach. As good as this was, I still feel that this collabo was a few years too late. I feel the results would've been different has they hooked between '93 and '96.
*4 out of 5*

17. "New York Salute"
Produced By M.O.P.

As a closer and a song overall, this was dope, short, sweet, and to the point, no doubt. 
*4 out of 5*



 Fame and Danze continued to get better and they did that in spades on album number three. They expanded on the "Firing Squad" album and a lot of those same aggressive ingredients were present here. The lyrics were tight, the production was slammin, the guest spots were awesome, adding up to one tight ass album. 


4.5 STARS   



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville
 4 Alarm Blaze
Downtown Swinga '98
I Luv
My Kinda Nigga Part II
Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)
Down 4 Whateva





Release date: October 10, 2000



1. "Premier Intro"
Produced By DJ Premier
Words from Premier followed by a dope beat with the unmistakable Premo scratches leads us in.


2. "Welcome To Brownsville"
Featuring Teflon
Produced By Fizzy Womack

After 1998's awesome "First Family 4 Life" album, Fame and Danze returns with the aggression we have come to love, showing that nothing had changed.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Everyday"
Featuring Product G&B
Produced By DJ Premier

It's all about survival, no doubt. Good song, and while Product G&B did a decent job on the hook, the effect is somewhat ruined because the hook itself was a little too "R&B ish" for M.O.P. Let's move on to a classic shall we!
*3 out of 5*

4. "Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory")
Produced By DR Period

Hot damn! First off, much props to DR Period for this classic banger of a beat. Man, if there was one song to get you amped up (including the DOPE remix too), this was it. It banged in 2000 and 14 years later, the effect is still the same. Aggression personified.
*5 out of 5*



5. "Face Off 2K1"
Produced By DJ Premier

Much like "Facing Off" on the previous album, this one was just as dope. In something that was probably done by design, Danze's portion comes a little slow, but damn if things don't pick back up for the closing verse from Fame. In addition, Premo continued his tradition, if you will, of provided multiple dope beats (in this case two) in ONE song. 
*4.5 out of 5*

6. "Warriorz:
Produced By Mahogany

Mahogany did bring a Ruff Ryders sound for Fame and Danze and it worked quite well for this dope title track, complete with a well worked sample thanks to The Mad Lads' "I Forgot To Be Your Lover".  
*4 out of 5*

7. "G Building"
Produced By M.O.P.

"Fuck the fame, I agree, fuck the fame/But I got four words for you: don't fuck wit Fame!" 

Hot damn, another banger right here. The ONLY thing it was missing was a scratched in, Ol' Dirty Bastard sample, courtesy of "Brooklyn Zoo" ("in the G building.....", you know the rest, lol.)
*5 out of 5*



8. "Old Timerz"
Produced By Laze E Laze

"This is for the old school/O.G. niggas from back in the day"


A dope tribute right here with Fame and Danze recognizing and shouting out the OGs that came before them. We really don't see these type of props given anymore, especially with today's generation.
*4 out of 5*

9. "On The Front Line"
Produced By DJ Premier

A fast paced, scratch filled, aggressive banger.
*5 out of 5*



10. "Nig-Gotiate
Produced By Fizzy Womack

Lol, if this was their way of "negotiating", I could only imagine, lol. Good song though.
*4 out of 5*

11. "Follow Instructions"
Produced By DJ Premier

Another dope, fast paced Premo produced banger. All you gotta do is "listen, move, and bounce", follow the instructions to a tee.
*5 out of 5*



12. "Calm Down"
Produced By Fizzy Womack

Fame was really starting to earn his stripes as a producer this time around, and this banger was another testament to that. Listening to this, you'd be hard pressed to "calm down" in any form. It's not happening, lol!
*5 out of 5*



13. "Power"
Produced By Fizzy Womack and Laze E Laze

"We can clown all day/I come up out the hole like it's Groundhog Day and dump rounds all day" -Fame


I kept waiting for Smoothe Da Hustler and Trigga Tha Gambler to just come out the cut and catch wreck with Fame and Danze here, lol, simply because this reminds me of Smoothe and Trigga's own aggressive touches on "Fuck Whatcha Heard". Again, more dopeness, what more can I say?
*5 out of 5*

"POWER, loyalty is royalty, we roll through wit tremendous force and bring POWER!"



14. "Home Sweet Home"
Featuring Lord Have Mercy
Produced By Nottz

"BROOKLYN military, killiin, every muthafucka in sight get harmed/www.IWillFuckYouUp.com!" -Fame


Lord Have Mercy, formerly of the Flipmode Squad, came through with a dope verse alongside Fame and Danze. Brooklyn, stand up!
*4 out of 5*

15. "Background Niggaz"
Produced By DR Period 

To any cats who play the background, um, you gets no love from Fame and Danze, lol.
*4 out of 5*

16. "Cold As Ice"
Produced By Fizzy Womack

Fame effectively utilized Foreigner's "Cold As Ice" and created a classic M.O.P. banger. This is SO damn dope it's not even funny.
*5 out of 5*



17. "Operation Lockdown"
Produced By Chris Coker

I don't mean to do a comparison here, but while this is a good song, it's nowhere close to Heltah Skeltah's classic of the same name.
*3 out of 5*

18. "Roll Call"
Produced By DJ Premier

The dope bangers continue with the Premo produced joint.
*4 out of 5*

19. "Foundation"
Produced By Curt Cazal

Fame and Danze end this dope album on an introspective note, notably with Danze reflecting on times with his father and receiving some words of wisdom before he sadly passed away. (And in an interesting touch, their next studio album, which will be covered next, would be titled "Foundation".)
*4 out of 5*


Wow, ANOTHER awesome album from M.O.P., and although I don't have specific numbers, this was their most successful album to date, largely because "Ante Up", specifically the remix, received a respectable amount of play on radio and TV. They continued to do what they did best and that's bring the most aggressive, East Coast hip hop you'll ever find, and THREE straight 4.5 star albums is very impressive. 


4.5 STARS



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville
 4 Alarm Blaze
Downtown Swinga '98
I Luv
My Kinda Nigga Part II
Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)
Down 4 Whateva
Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory)
Cold As Ice
Power
Calm Down
G Building



 
 Release date: September 15, 2009


Before I get to Fame and Danze's first studio album in 9 years, let's look at what they were up to prior to this release. 2003 saw the release of "10 Years and Gunnin", which had 10 of their greatest hits. "Mash Out Posse", a rock-hip hop album that featured remixes of some of their songs, was released in 2004. Also during this period, in a deal that would eventually fall through, they were briefly signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, with the mixtape/compilation album, 2005's "St. Marxmen", apparently featuring new material and songs they recorded during their tenure at the Roc. 2006's "Ghetto Warfare" followed the same steps. They were also briefly signed to G-Unit Records in another deal that fell through, and I've said before they they were too aggressive and overall not a good fit for G-Unit. As you can see, they were still on the grind heading into 2009's "Foundation".


[Additional research, credited to Wikipedia, showed that DJ Premier had two additional tracks made for the album, but the deadline was missed due to M.O.P. touring to promote the album. The song "Rude Bastard" was credited incorrectly to Fizzy Womack/Fame and the final version of "Where I Wanna B" featured cuts and scratches by Premier that didn't make the album version.]







1. "I'm A Brownsvillian"
Produced By Nottz

Dope opener to set things off and when you look at the title, it's about what you would expect, complete with nicely utilized guitar riffs.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Foundation"
Produced By M-Phazes


"And nowadays I've aged, so I'm calm wit it/But I'm the reason Flex started droppin them bombs wit it" -Danze


This one line from Danze not only describes this song, a very good, fast paced one, but it also describes this album quite well. He and Fame have been in the game since '93, and while the aggression still remains, they're not as hype and amped up as we're accustomed to hearing, which is not a bad thing at all. "So for the continuation to the next generation", I'm with them on this one.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Stop Pushin"
Produced By Fizzy Womack

When Fame and Danze say "give em room when you see em comin through", you betta heed that warning or worst case scenario, as Fame said, "he's goin right upside your muthafuckin head, STRAIGHT LIKE THAT!". Lol.
*4 out of 5*

4. "Street Life" 
Featuring Demarco
Produced By Fizzy Womack

Yes, songs like this have been done before and the perspective from Fame and Danze is very solid, however, while Demarco's hook fit the song, it should've been a regular hook instead of the influence of auto tune, which was already being done to death at this point.
*3.5 out of 5*

5. "What I Wanna Be"
Featuring Rell
Produced By DJ Premier

Even at this point in their careers, they still have aspirations while still respectively claiming their current territory. Dope song right here.
*4 out of 5*

6. "Rude Bastard"
Produced By Kil

Lol, listen as Fame and Danze thumb their collective noses at any and everyone who refers to them as a "rude bastard" in any form.
*3 out of 5*

7. "Blow The Horns"
Produced By Fizzy Womack

An apply titled, Fizzy/Fame produced banger right here, clocking in at an even 3 minutes.
*4 out of 5*

8. "Brooklyn"
Produced By Ron G, Co-Produced By M.O.P.

I always say that you can never show too much love to the city you're from and you can never rap about it too much either as long as it's done right. This may come off as more of the same from Fame and Danze, but it's still mostly good.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Forever And Always"
Produced By Statik Selektah

For those that forgot about Fame and Danze after the "Warriorz" album, this pretty good song is for you. They will clearly not be stopping any time soon and this song is a testament to that. I also never would've guessed that Fame and Smoothe Da Hustler, another dope, underrated MC, were in Kindergarten together. 
*4 out of 5*

10. "Bang Time"
Featuring Styles P
Produced By the Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern

"Me, I go extra hard, still tryin to get it, like I'm Escobar/Only question I ask is cash or a check involved" -Styles P

"Let it steam muthafucka, let's go, we in them greens/And on the grounds when we down wit it, that's how we bling" -Danze


This, loyal reader, is without a doubt the best song on this album, featuring that classic M.O.P. sound (crafted well by Green Lantern) liking up perfectly with D-Block, specifically Styles P.
*4 out of 5*



11. "Riding Through"
Featuring Redman
Produced By Taylor Made

"Cause when it's on we gon ride for the cause/And spit more than 16 at your ass and we ain't talkin bout bars!" -Fame

"Yo, I'm bout it bout it, you doubt it, dial it/Fuck the alarm, Doc cause a power outage" -Redman


For the first ever pairing between M.O.P. and Redman (Brick City meets Brownsville), this was an appropriately titled, dope song, complete with a hilarious story by Red to close the song.
*4 out of 5*
12. "Crazy"
Featuring Termanology
Produced By Statik Selektah

Here we get an unofficial precursor to "Fizzyology", which would be the title of Fame and guest Termanlogy's 2012 joint album. Good song.
*4 out of 5*
  
13. "Sharks In The Water"
Produced By DR Period

This is vintage M.O.P. right here, lyrical gunplay on display with the gun cocks in the beat to match. And man, Danze was seriously going in on this one.
*4 out of 5*

14. "Salute A G"
Produced By DR Period
   
"Salute a G when you see one!
Put 4 fingers up to your forehead and tuck in your thumb!"


That hook right there tells you all you need to know about this decent, fast paced closer.
*4 out of 5* 



 This is definitely the most fast paced album in the M.O.P. discography. Unfortunately it fell under the proverbial radar in 2009, however, much props go to the site HipHopDX for naming it as one of that year's best albums. Overall, a very good album, even if a small notch below their previous four. While Fame still came amped up as ever, Danze let his aggressive side take somewhat of a backseat on this album, and that's not a bad thing at all (then again, most people tend to get better with age). This also may be their most underrated album, oddly enough considering that their entire discography is underrated, but it's all good.


4 STARS



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville
 4 Alarm Blaze
Downtown Swinga '98
I Luv
My Kinda Nigga Part II
Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)
Down 4 Whateva
Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory)
Cold As Ice
Power
Calm Down
G Building
Bang Time
What I Wanna Be
Riding Through
Foundation
Forever And Always




Release date: November 22, 2011



1. "Sparta"

This amped up opener showed that not only did Fame and Danze not lose one step since the last album, but they're completely at home over the Snowgoons' production.
*4 out of 5*

2. "Back At It"

Yes indeed, 18 years in the game (at this point) and Fame & Danze ain't going nowhere any time soon. The title track was a dope opener, but now when I think about it, this joint right here should've opened the album.
*4 out of 5*

3. "Get Yours"

"We all in the mix of the blitz while you lecture/We in the thick of the shit wit no pressure" -Danze


Mad props to the Snowgoons for creating a Fizzy Womack esque track for this aggressive banger. 
*4 out of 5*



4. "Blasphemy (Blast 4 Me)"

This is a case where the song itself is good, but I feel Fame and Danze's lyrics come off more harder than the beat, which isn't a knock against it at all, plus we've heard songs like this before. Overall, more of the same here.
*3 out of 5*

5. "Opium"

For those who eat, sleep, and breathe hip hop culture like myself, the genre will continue to be an addiction. Fame and Danze give a rather dope, aggressive touch to this subject on this one.
*4 out of 5*



6. "Hard Niggaz"

This apply titled song is good, nothing more or less. Although it's not boring or tiresome, it's nothing we haven't heard before from them.
*3 out of 5*

7. "Rollin"

This is about as smooth as Fame and Danze is going to get. They still bring a (slight) aggressive tone to a song with a West Coast vibe/feel to it.
*4 out of 5*

8. "No Mercy"

Much like they did with Pharoahe Monch on his "Internal Affairs" album, with the song of this same title, you should know by now that you gets no mercy from them at any costs, bottom line. Fast paced track too.
*4 out of 5*

9. "Break 'Em"

Vintage M.O.P. right here, that's all I have to say, lol!
*4 out of 5*


 
10. "Body On The Iron" .

We get more vintage M.O.P., in a fast paced form, to close this album.
*4 out of 5*




Good album right here, nothing more or less. I believe this one fell under the radar not only due to the state of hip hop at the time, but I don't think too many knew of this release, even die hard/long time M.O.P. fans. I honestly can't recall when I heard about the album, all I remember is that it wasn't too long after I found out about it that I ordered it from Best Buy, lol. My overall rating may be a little different if there was more content, however, I'm satisfied with what I got.


 3.5 STARS



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville
 4 Alarm Blaze
Downtown Swinga '98
I Luv
My Kinda Nigga Part II
Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)
Down 4 Whateva
Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory)
Cold As Ice
Power
Calm Down
G Building
Bang Time
What I Wanna Be
Riding Through
Foundation
Forever And Always
Sparta
Break Em
Body On The Iron
Opium
Get Yours



*The closing portion of this project will be taken verbatim from the review posted on November 18, 2014.


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, lol. 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!



ESSENTIAL M.O.P.
Rugged Neva Smoove
How About Some Hardcore
To The Death
Ring Ding
Drama Lord
Top of the Line 
Stick 2 Ya Gunz
New Jack City
Firing Squad
Dead & Gone
Downtown Swinga ('96)
Brownsville
 4 Alarm Blaze
Downtown Swinga '98
I Luv
My Kinda Nigga Part II
Handle Ur Bizness (DJ Premier Remix)
Down 4 Whateva
Ante Up (Robbing-Hoodz Theory)
Cold As Ice
Power
Calm Down
G Building
Bang Time
What I Wanna Be
Riding Through
Foundation
Forever And Always
Sparta
Break Em
Opium
Get Yours
Street Certified
Broad Daylight
Shake Em Up
187
 Heistmasters



And there you have it, the ultimate M.O.P. project is in the books! It seemed like I put this together in no time, but make no mistake about it I enjoyed creating it. I can't thank Lil Fame and Billy Danze enough for all of their contributions to hip hop since 1993, still one of the most underrated, aggressive duos in all of hip hop. Also according to Wikipedia, Fame and Danze had (or have) solo albums in the works, titled "Behind Gates" and "The Fame and the Glory", respectively, as well as another album in 2015 which may or may not be produced entirely by DJ Premier. Whatever the case may be, I hope we continue to get more material from these men. Fame and Danze, if you haven't been told this in a while, I just want to say thank you for all that you have done in hip hop, thank you for always staying true to your sound and not switching it up for the sake of sales, radio & video play, thank you for being YOU, THE Mash Out Posse!!!!! Salute!!!!!!!



M.O.P. Ratings and Rankings
1. "First Family 4 Life" (4.5 stars)
2. "Firing Squad" (4.5 stars)
3. "Warriorz" (4.5 stars)
4. "To The Death" (4.5 stars)
5. "Street Certified" (4.5 stars)
6. "Foundation" (4 stars)
7. "Sparta" (3.5 stars)

(#4 and #5 could be interchangeable on any given day)

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