We’re back for another batch of M.O.P. goodness! Check out the list so far:
175. “The Hardest”
Artist: P-Money feat. M.O.P.
Album: Gratitude (2013)
“I’m from where the blood runs through the streets and it’s up to your knees” – Lil’ Fame
There are two P-Moneys in the rap game: the Grime veteran from London who is one of the genre’s most notable emcees, and the producer from New Zealand who is perhaps best known for his work with Buckshot. Not really surprising, but this is the latter and from an album full of familiar names like Freddie Gibbs and Talib Kweli. M.O.P. put in a shift over a beat tailor-made for them – if it has horns, get Fame on the phone! There’s no real hook to speak of so it lacks a bit of identity, but for one of their more recent offerings, it’s really solid.
174. “Nothin’ 2 Lose”
Album: Firing Squad (1996)
“Too much pressure will stress ya” – Lil’ Fame
While the sound quality is a little suspect for a ’96 release, “Nothin’ 2 Lose” benefits from two passionate performances and that smooth almost-R&B-like backdrop courtesy of the versatile Ali Dee.
Album: Sparta (2011)
“Go jump your punk ass back inside your fat mother” – Lil’ Fame
Despite cinema sensation 300 dropping in 2007, rappers still maintained a fascination with that brooding energy of cold-hearted warriors – and who better than M.O.P. to deliver on that front. Essentially the start to the Snowgoons album of the same name, it’s a perfect taste of things to come on a record that is up there with M.O.P.’s best. The Sparta gimmick feels very much of its era (much like Fat Joe’s “300 Brolic”) but hearing M.O.P. with Snowgoons in 2011 was a rap nerd’s wet dream, as they had almost unmatched chemistry together.
172. “Ill Figures”
Artist: Raekwon, M.O.P. & Kool G Rap
Album: Wu-Tang Chamber Music (2009)
I’ve always thought M.O.P. could fit into the Wu-Tang family of artists. Sure, they might lack the swift swordplay of Inspectah Deck or the precise strategy of GZA, but they would roll through with nunchakus and wield baseball bats instead of katanas. Slotted in between Raekwon and G Rap’s descriptive interpretations of crime-ridden urban landscapes, Billy and Fame actually nail the aesthetic of flailing limbs and flying fists while dropping countless Wu references. When Billy says “WU” it even sounds like the sound of a bat swinging past your head.
171. “Get Ya Steele”
Artist: M.O.P. feat. Teflon
Album: The Underground Legends Vol. 5 (2007)“
Hearing Billy Danze say “you cock-sucking maggots should chill” is almost ironic to the point of tongue-in-cheek, but this J-Love mixtape exclusive is a solid effort let down by the worst part of mixtapes – the DJ that talks all over the raps. Fair enough if it’s over the beat, but not over the fucking raps. A good track ruined.
170. “The Truth”
Artist: M.O.P. feat. Teflon
Album: The Underground Legends Vol. 5 (2007)
“Why the fuck are you staring at me partner? You are not ready” – Billy Danze
One of them M.O.P. tracks that sounds like it’s been stomped on then plays on the record player with a bumpy feel, this J-Love exclusive deserves to be heard by the masses. No hooks, just a filthy beat with unrivalled energy. It sounds like there’s a Teflon verse too, but remains unheard.
169. “Push Back”
Artist: Killer Mike feat. M.O.P.
“I’ll have your face lookin’ like the front of one of them Cadillac trucks” – Lil’ Fame
Killer Mike may be more known for his Run the Jewels work, but he was a prominent part of the rise of Southern rap, particularly as an emcee with substance. Saying that, this may as well be a slice of crunk given the mood it evokes. Straight up moshpit music that’s sonically a mix of latter crowd-pleasers “Bang Time” and “Stop Pushin'”.
168. “What the Future Holds”
Album: First Family 4 Life (1998)
“Follow your dreams and follow your goals
Because who knows what the future holds” – Lil’ Fame
Credited as an M.O.P. production, there’s no denying early glimpses of the sped-up soul sample style names like Kanye West and Just Blaze would perfect a few years later – did Fizzy start it all? Probably a stretch, but it’s difficult pinpointing any earlier examples of this kind of beat. Not one of their most memorable offerings, “What the Future Holds” is the second side of their third LP’s chance to get personal, reflecting on a more positive outlook of life on the drug-riddled streets of Brownsville. Billy and Fame are grateful for their upbringing, despite it being hellish because they are still here (and successful at that!).
167. “Rugged Neva Smoove”
Album: To the Death (1994)
“I’m not going to smoke until I choke, I’m going to smoke until I croak” – Lil’ Fame
I’m doing this a disservice placing such an iconic part of their catalogue this low, but fuck it, I’ll know if you read it when you inevitably come at me on Twitter. The bass and snares are ridiculous – has a snare ever slapped as hard as this? The one time a DJ Premier remix wasn’t as good as the original, particularly as the remix on the “Marxmen Cinema” record is censored.
166. “Keepin’ It Gangsta (Remix)”
Artist: Fabolous feat. M.O.P.
Album: Street Dreams (2003)
“As far as heat goes, we keep those, the street knows” – Billy Danze
Fabolous was always an interesting character in the echelon of rap, often marketed at the ladies with his crossover singles despite possessing a lyrical street aesthetic. This overlooked “remix” (it’s the same beat) benefitted hugely from The L.O.X. and M.O.P. – perhaps the two most authentic crews you could throw on this. The best thing about it is that they fully embraced the freedom to just go ham on the beat, clocking in at over five minutes and seeing Fab’ pair with Sheek to lend the track its structure of three duos, instead of a trio, Fabolous and a duo. M.O.P. absolutely BODY it though – 2002/2003 was a standout period when you consider “U Don’t Know” and “Bad Boys 4 Life” both had an M.O.P. remix (spoiler: they are ranked HIGHLY).
165. “No Doubt”
Artist: Das EFX feat. M.O.P. & Teflon
Album: Generation EFX (1998)
“Get stuck up or get fucked the fuck up” – Lil’ Fame
Das EFX and M.O.P. deliver exactly what fans want – a ton of “iggidy” and brash “NO DOUBT” shouting. Two masters of their craft, and both unique with their brand too. It follows both group’s formulas with a perfect Solid Scheme production that’s classic New York in 1998. Is it a whole lot of nothing? Kind of, but when it sounds and feels this satisfying, who the fuck cares?
Album: Handle Ur Bizness EP (1998)
“I live my life as a movie and this music is the soundtrack” – Lil’ Fame
An inaccurate acronym for Nobody Can Fuck With Me, this raucous effort kicks off the “Handle Ur Bizness EP” so feels like half intro-half actual song. It also includes skits that disrupt the flow, despite being worthwhile jabs at the prevalence of superficial designer labels and jewellery in the rap scene.
Album: Foundation (2009)
“I know a lot of my dogs around here got a college education
They ain’t get it from Penn State, they got it from the State pen” – Lil’ Fame
Not the first song about Brooklyn, but certainly one of the most insightful and one highlighting that, much like Redman, Billy and Fame never left their borough or stopped representing its roots. My understanding is Brooklyn is very different now, but it’s songs like this that remind us all of how much that tough borough of New York has given Hip-Hop.
162. “All of the Above”
Album: Marxmen Cinema (2004)
“The next time I see you crossin’ the street and I’m drivin’ a truck
Yo ass is fucked!” – Billy Danze
An exhausting listen for many, “All of the Above” is so close to being one of the duo’s best tracks. The hook is a little messy, the beat is nasty but not quite memorable enough and it’s clear they felt the same as it’s left on the Marxmen Cinema release.
161. “Y’all Don’t Wanna F***”
Artist: Styles P feat. M.O.P.
Album: Gangster and A Gentleman (2002)
“They thought of me when they invented the gun” – Styles P
I love that they went with the “bucka-bucka-bucka-blaow” FOR THE HOOK. Styles P is a regular partner in rhyme and his calculated, cold-blooded presence is the perfect foil for Billy and Fame’s wild rants. One of the rare times M.O.P. have the second verse, with P returning for the third, it’s a solid addition to one of the best solo debuts of the early 2000s.
160. “My Way (J-Love Mix)”
Album: Better Your Life (2005)
“Got homies that climb up out the sewer when we ride” – Billy Danze
J-Love must be the hardest working DJ in the world, continuing to pump out mixtapes for what seems like forever. Over that time, he’s had some exclusives that also feature J-Love production, and “My Way” is quintessential NYC kicks and drums backed up with one of my favourite M.O.P. hooks that goes “EM DOT OH DOT PEE DOT PLEASE before you get one of THESE slammed in your FACE” with the constant beatdrops only adding to the wonder.
Album: Sparta (2011)
“I’m set to Roc more Nations than Jay-Z” – Billy Danze
If anything sounds like West Coast rap in M.O.P.’s catalogue, it’s this. Sat amongst a slew of brooding orchestral pieces, “Rollin'” is a brief breather on their 2011 album “Sparta” that definitely feels more suited to a lowrider cruising through the streets of Compton.
158. “Raise Hell”
Album: Loud Unreleased Pt. 1 (2004)
“The name’s Bill, the game’s real
Me and Fame feel when you blow trial, ain’t no appeal” – Billy Danze
A rarity from what looks like 1995, this appeared on vinyl in 2004. Boasting a wicked Biggie sample that gave Fame some, well, fame, it’s when Billy Danze starts rapping that this simple premise for a track becomes something special. It might even be the earliest we heard the legendary “bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-blaow” from Bill as he mercilessly mimics the sound and feel of a gunfight.
157. “Thugathon 2010”
Artist: Statik Selektah & Termanology feat. M.O.P.
Album: 1982 (2010)
“And your LP was an upset, should have named it Press Eject” – Lil Fame
Hard to imagine this record is now ten years old, but Termanology has long had good chemistry with Lil Fame. Suitably depressive, the Statik beat is just the right side of lowkey, almost feeling like an Alchemist joint. It’s little more than bragging, but Fame stands out with his funny, often random lines, like the jab at P Diddy.
156. “March 9”
Artist: Busta Rhymes feat. Maino, Red Cafe, Uncle Murda, Styles P, Sheek Louch, Lil’ Cease & M.O.P.
Album: The Recession Mixtape (2010)
“You turned gritty to pretty” Billy Danze
A memorable dedication to Biggie Smalls from a selection of Brooklyn emcees with that pounding Green Lantern style production (it’s unclear who produced this as there’s very little information online for this one). Billy and Fame clearly knew Big on a level the others didn’t, given they were friends BEFORE the music thing popped off and there’s a nice message from Fame at the end of his verse.
Artist: Busta Rhymes feat. M.O.P.
Album: Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God
“Oh” – Lil’ Fame
Busta does his best Vinnie Paz impression on his new collaboration with M.O.P., adding a throaty, gruff menace to his already imposing delivery. He legitimately sounds (and looks) like he ate the 1997 Busta Rhymes. As far as M.O.P. go, it’s a stretch calling this a feature, given it owes a great deal to “Ante Up” by simply pulling a line from that song and a bunch of “Oh” adlibs. Yet it works, and the repetitive Rockwilder production, whilst not his best work, does the job well.
154. “Muddy Waters”
Album: St. Marxmen (2004), Ghetto Warfare (2006)
“I’m still a good man, as a kid I was dealt a fucked up hand” – Lil’ Fame
Appearing on two official M.O.P. mixtape/compilations, Billy Danze elevates a fairly ordinary beat with his intensity. “Muddy Waters” is the streets, as both emcees relive stories of murder happening in their neighbourhood, highlighting how blood, sweat and tears are the equivalents of love.
Album: To the Death (1994)
A rare storytelling track that’s devoid of the famed adlibs, “Heistmasters” is low-budget battles with the police and the originator of the famous “Ante Up” chant. Boasting heavy snares that were common throughout their debut album, it’s a solid if overlooked part of their early catalogue.
Artist: Afu-ra feat. M.O.P.
Album: Life Force Radio (2002)
“And of course we have emotions inside
That’s just some shit that we’ve been trained to hide” – Billy Danze
Afu-ra, who I like to lovingly refer to as the “King of nonsense raps”, nabs an excellent performance from Billy and Fame, yet lets them down by comparing how he rocks a mic to molesting a child. Proper weird line. M.O.P. are as in-your-face as ever, declaring war on their enemies. But it’s the way Billy delivers his lines like bullets flying past you is where this straightforward warcry becomes something truly artistic. M.O.P. are truly the “Kings of Adlibs”.
151. “Never Give Up”
Artist: DJ Tomekk feat. M.O.P.
Album: n/a (2019)
“Whoever voted for Donald Trump should have voted for Forrest Gump” – Lil’ Fame
Infused with electric guitars, this is an excellent approach to the M.O.P. formula with a surprisingly clean beat. The hook actually shows hope rather than the oppressive energy a M.O.P. track about not giving up would traditionally have.