For over 25 years Brooklyn’s Mash Out Posse (M.O.P.) have been certified as among hip-hop’s most beloved hardcore acts. In FACT their first big hit “How About Some Hardcore?” set the bar for not only other New York rap acts but their entire career. Lil’ Fame (a/k/a Fizzy Womack) and his tag team partner Billy Danze (a/k/a William Berkowitz) single-handedly rewrote chain snatching as we know it with the smash crossover song “Ante Up”, a song so infectious in attitude that it reached Onyx “Slam” levels of popularity to where even frat boys would be bopping their head to it (if not outright moshing in the pit to it). There’s no question the debt both rap fans and my chiropractor owe to the amount of neck snapping this crew has engendered over a legendary career — one which I hope is not coming to an end any time soon. That’s why I have to admit the idea of William Berkowitz going solo concerned me a bit.
“Whop It” off of the aptly named “6 Pack” EP won’t disappoint M.O.P. fans in any way. Although you can feel a little bit of age creeping into Danze’s delivery after a quarter century of his scathing rap bars, that’s more than understandable even if he wasn’t practically screaming into a mic for most of his career. I’d expect his voice to get a little deeper and his flow a little more leisurely, as he’s not a young man any more and neither am I. That’s the funny thing about reviewing this solo effort to me — it’s a reminder of how much we’ve BOTH aged with time. Unlike Berkowitz though I’ve never been best known for my camaraderie and chemistry with a partner in crime.
To be fair it’s not as though there haven’t been solo efforts or side projects from the Mash Out Posse before now — and they’ve well above par and worthwhile for M.O.P. fans to check out. To be unfair Fizzy Womack doesn’t seem to have aged vocally as much as his comrade. Maybe it’s the fact that Lil’ Fame doubles as a producer and spends as much time behind the boards as in front of the mic, so he hasn’t abused his voice box quite as much. It’s hard to imagine there’s that much difference though given they would have toured as a group and recorded as a group. Perhaps Father Time is just more kind to one than the other. He recaptures some of that old Mash Out flow on “He Aight” though both musically AND lyrically. The subwoofer rupturing beats are reminiscent of any of M.O.P.’s most anthemic tracks, the Jay-Z sample on the hook is both predictable AND welcome, and lines like “maybe I should baseball bat him, huh?” are the kind of over-the-top excessive violence you’d expect.
On a “6 Pack” where only six shots are being fired though, there’s little room for misses to go along with the hits. “In Position” gets the level of bravado right, but the music is not infectious and the tempo doesn’t give you that classic adrenaline rush Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame are known for. I can say the same for “Make You Famous.” Dunny, speed it UP. The slower tempo actually fits on “Ain’t Gone Do S–t” though so I can’t say it’s a universal mistake. Of course that song benefits from reuniting Danze with both Lil’ Fame and their long time running mate Teflon (Mr. “I’m young, hungry, armed and reckless” himself) so it’s telling that that charisma and energy is ignited by being crew deep. I don’t want to oversell the idea that M.O.P. shouldn’t explore their artistic interests on the solo for dolo tip, but “6 Pack” is ultimately FOR hardcore fans of the group (pun intended this time) and not casuals or the mildly curious.