25. “Bang Time”
Artist: M.O.P. feat. Styles P
Album: Foundation (2009)

“We’ll shoot this bitch up like cowboys and indians”

DJ Green Lantern was on some shit when he laced “Bang Time”. Their most literal record in a sense, M.O.P. are joined by The LOX’s Styles P for the audio equivalent of a machine-gun letting off a bunch of clips. An album cut from 2009’s “Foundation”, it now features as one of the highlights in their live show thanks to Billy’s relentless hook that just cries out for a moshpit.

24. “World Famous”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Firing Squad (1996)

“It’s the World Famous, Firing Squad
Is Home Team in the motherfuckin’ house? NO QUESTION” – Billy Danze & Lil Fame

While the Roberta Black/Donny Hathaway sample was also used six years later on Scarface’s “My Block”, this iconic moment from 1996’s “Firing Squad” is special in its own way. After their breakthrough single “How About Some Hardcore?” put them on the map, “World Famous” ensured you knew Billy and Fame weren’t going anywhere. Jaz-O injected lethal doses of bass into an instant anthem and it has all the familiar synonyms (Firing Squad, Downtown Swingas, Home Team etc.) you need to understand what M.O.P. stand for.

23. “Let It Go”
Artist: Cormega feat. M.O.P.
Album: Legal Hustle (2004)

“You’re the type of n**** to talk about how gully you are
And then put on a seatbelt when you hop inside of your car” – Lil Fame

Cormega’s conversational style could easily be overwhelmed by M.O.P. but they somehow combine effectively on this oddity from 2004’s “Legal Hustle” CD. This isn’t the type of beat ‘Mega would usually rap to, so you know it was custom made for First Family. The video possesses cel-shaded animation that captures the feel of the swinging head-nod that Emile’s beat evokes but it once again demonstrates how the Brooklyn duo dominates and makes it their track, featuring Cormega.

22. “G Building”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“I figured it out [WHAT’S THAT?!] they don’t want us to shine
You lost your mind if you think I tossed my iron” – Billy Danze

M.O.P. always had a goofy sense of humor and the hummable beat on “G Building” sets off the aural onslaught that is their fourth album “Warriorz” in a darkly comical manner. But whilst Fame delivers cartoonish rhymes about writing his name on your belly with bullets before scraping your cantaloupe off of the pavement, Billy plays it straight so you’re never sure if they truly mean each and every word.

21. “Face Off”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“I’m amess with stress, though I present it with finesse
Sometimes I feel as if my heart is coming out of my chest” – Billy Danze

M.O.P. aren’t exactly two different sides of the same coin, but “Face Off” demonstrates how to get the best of out Billy’s passionate delivery and Fame’s overlooked ability to ride a beat. Effectively two songs in one, DJ Premier lures you in with the sluggish starter as Billy opens up on how his life has taken a toll on his body. It’s the internal struggles, neatly complemented by Fame’s braggadocious (external) front that has helped him survive. But when that second beat drops? Good Lord. It’s further proof why Premier is the greatest of all time.

20. “Fly N**** Hill Figga”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: First Family 4 Life (1998)

“I’m not a gangster and I won’t lie
I’ve always been afraid to die” – Billy Danze

Not even the most ardent Trump supporter hurls N-bombs as passionately as Billy Danze does on this vicious assault on the senses. It’s the best track on their third LP and you can hear the growth from their work on “Firing Squad” to their 2000 classic “Warriorz”. We’ve moved from head-nodding to head-banging hip hop. The song itself is nothing spectacular but the energy expressed on this track marks it as one of M.O.P.’s best performances.

19. “Salute a G”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Foundation (2009)

“Cross me? COME ON, follow through with your schemes,
I’ll open you motherfuckers up at the seams FIYAAAAAHHHH” – Billy Danze

Not many artists craft hip hop these days that’s made for the live show. This underrated gem from 2009’s (also underrated) album “Foundation” does just that by channeling the likes of the “Macarena”, instructing fans to maneuver their hands into a salute signal. Atop a fun, unconventional beat the duo do what they do best and create a song you’ll be tapping your toe to and chanting “Salute a G when you see one!” by the time the three minutes are up.

18. “No Mercy”
Artist: Pharoahe Monch feat. M.O.P.
Album: Internal Affairs (1999)

What you wan’ cry fo’?
You know that my hammer is heavy and it’s got kick like Taekwondo?” – Lil’ Fame

If “Ante Up” was 2000’s heaviest club anthem, then Pharoahe Monch’s “Simon Says” was easily 1999’s. It would take something special to approach the energy of that song, and M.O.P. join Pharoahe fucking Monch on “No Mercy” for a track possessing tension, a perfect hook, and most notably, a faster BPM than M.O.P. are usually accustomed to. And you know what? They absolutely smash it. It’s pure adrenaline blessed with plenty of memorable lines, whether it’s Pharoahe’s obscene mastery of the English language or Billy Danze admitting to having a homicide fetish and you need to DEAL WITH IT MOTHERFUCKER. It’s chaotic brilliance.

17. “Bad Boy 4 Life (Remix)”
Artist: P. Diddy feat. M.O.P. & Busta Rhymes
Album: We Invented the Remix (2002)

It’s the First Family and we came to drop bombs BOOM NAPALM!” – Billy Danze

M.O.P. and Busta Rhymes on the remix to ANYTHING is going to be a problem. This savage revision of Diddy’s hit-single “Bad Boy 4 Life” is remixed in a way that feels like the beat has been bent out of shape by the emcees involved, which is what a remix should be. The star of the show is clearly Busta with one of his best verses he’s ever recorded – just the line “I’m like a pickup truck with broken concrete in the back” is the perfect analogy for a track with M.O.P.. Tucked away on an album that included R&B remixes meant this track was overlooked at the time but by God, it’s aged wonderfully and the influence of M.O.P. runs throughout.

16. “New Jack City”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Firing Squad (1996)

“I’m a basket-case, don’t make me bash ya face
[You’re shittin’!] I’m Sittin’ on Chrome like Masta Ace” – Lil’ Fame

Taking its name from the Wesley Snipes movie, “New Jack City” is a similarly ominous look at New York’s underworld. DJ Premier crafts the perfect backdrop for Billy and Fame to throw down morbid reality rap in the darkest alleys of Brownsville. The vitriol in Billy Danze’s voice and pain coming through his rhymes are something else, capturing the desperation of a family that robs just to put food on the table. It’s now a classic hip hop single but when listened to properly, there are some hard-hitting statements here.

15. “Opium”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Sparta (2011)

“I don’t give a fuck, I got the money and the power
See you ain’t like me Money, you a coward”
– Lil Fame

Good Lord! Hard drums often define the best beats and The Snowgoons blessed us with “Opium”, a beat so good that the hook is just Billy Danze stating the word ‘opium’. 2011’s “Sparta” is an intense record, drenched in cinematic violence, and “Opium” is one of the more precise cuts with a foot-stomp/hand-clap vibe all the best mood-changing tracks are blessed with. If M.O.P.’s music is a drug, it’s more likely to be cocaine than opium, but I wouldn’t be surprised if opium was necessary after this recording session.

14. “Cold As Ice”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“Niggas thought M.O.P. stand for mop and shit…” – Fame

As if manners mattered, Fame starts his first 8 bars with “Pardon me…”. Censored to the point that the radio edit is missing half of the lyrics, “Cold As Ice” capped off a period in New York where an obvious sample ensured mainstream appeal. Jay-Z did gangbusters with “Hard Knock Life” so it wasn’t long before sped up samples became the norm, yet Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” was transformed from a dramatic 80s pop anthem into a brash call to prospective murderers. This song was huge and their most popular single in the UK.

13. “Bloody Murdah”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Marxmen Cinema (2004)

“I’ll throw a cocktail in your house while you’re playing karaoke” – Lil Fame

Not one of Premier’s finest beats, in fact, some may feel it’s one of his worst. Yet, the sheer talent of M.O.P. turns sparse drums and the most basic of melodies into a brooding, shamelessly ignorant way of increasing your heart rate. These guys could rhyme to a metronome and the energy would still be fantastic. The best version is probably the mixed one on DJ Premier’s “Rare Play Vol. 1”.

12. “How About Some Hardcore?”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: To The Death (1994)

“Go get your motherfucking hammer!
And act like you want drama, I’ll send a message to yo’ mama” – Billy Danze

Released back in 1993, the rallying call of “How About Some Hardcore?” was perfectly timed. Wu-Tang Clan found success with their debut LP “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”, as did the Jam Master Jay-backed Onyx with “Bacdafucup”. New York was about to get grimier, and the debut of M.O.P. came at the perfect time. While their first album, “To the Death”, may not have aged as well as some of its contemporaries (or the duo’s later work), “How About Some Hardcore?” sold the very idea of M.O.P. to many and kicked their legendary career off in the best way possible.

11. “Cold World”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Handle Ur Bizness EP (1998)

“We’re gon’ put this bullshit to a cease, hollering about peace?
You’re in the belly of the FUCKING BEAST” – Billy Danze

Billy Danze regularly raps in a hyper-aggressive manner, so when he turns it up to ULTRA PISSED OFF levels, you know you’re in for something special. Yet this isn’t superficial aggression, it’s full of pain and anguish. “Cold World” is a bleak track, and boasts a classic performance from Billy Danze as he drops impassioned gems like “Ever since I laid my mother to rest, I’ve been blessed with this cold ass heart”. Amongst all the testosterone, this is a rare glimpse into their more vulnerable side and it’s powerful stuff.

10. “Ante Up (Remix)”
Artist: M.O.P. feat. Busta Rhymes, Remy Martin, Teflon
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“It’s the perfect timing, you see the man shining?
Go and get them God-damn diamonds! – Billy Danze

The only thing stopping this being perfect is knowing Prodigy did a verse but Billy didn’t want to get involved in the Nas vs. Jay-Z beef that was happening at the time. Instead we’re treated to the perfectly serviceable Teflon and an ear-splitting verse from Remy Martin. The highlight is inevitably Busta Rhymes’ memorable performance, not just in the song itself, but the video too. Any remix Busta appeared on at the turn of the millennium ignited fire in his belly and “Ante Up (Remix)” stands out as one of the examples where the wordier, less accessible version blows up on the radio instead of the original. A bonified hip hop classic.

9. “Get Yours”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Sparta (2011)

“The pallbearers of hip-hop
We carry y’all wack ass off and bury y’all
This is real heavy y’all!” – Lil Fame

That live performance on Sway in the Morning ensures “Get Yours” sticks long in the memory. Plodding, sinister instrumental and one of their best back-and-forth hooks lends this overlooked track a timeless feel. As far as Snowgoons beats go, this is barebones, yet that’s often where Billy and Fame work best. The fact the hook flirts with drinking in the club is wild itself, something only M.O.P. could pull off whilst spending their verses punching out teeth and murdering anyone in their way.

8. “U Don’t Know (Remix)”
Artist: Jay-Z feat. M.O.P.
Album: The Blueprint 2 (2002)

“I’m still runnin’ with cats that rob
From the era of XL80s and hatchback Saabs”
– Lil Fame

The original “U Don’t Know” elevated Just Blaze and provided Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint” album with one of its best tracks, stacked with quotable lines. This remix was released at the peak of Roc-A-Fella’s reign, hyping fans for an M.O.P. record potentially produced by heavyweight names like The Heatmakerz, Kanye West and Just Blaze himself. Unfortunately, this never quite materialized, but the best thing about “The Blueprint 2” (aside from Rakim on “The Watcher 2”) is this monstrous revision that is a little bit higher pitched and the bass is slightly heavier. The energy leaves the room as soon as Jay starts rapping, showing once again just how dominant an M.O.P. appearance can be, for better or worse.

7. “Follow Instructions”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“It’s the firing squad! YO! YO! YO!
– Lil Fame

M.O.P. have had brilliant hooks throughout their career, yet few feel as perfectly formed as the “MOVE, BOUNCE” demands of “Follow Instructions”. The DJ Premier instrumental would plod in the wrong hands, but Billy and Fame grab it by the throat and squeeze every ounce of bounce from it, demonstrating further how their music often works best in a live environment. If “Ante Up” is their frenzied mosh pit at the end of the night, this is the rowdy prelude that gets the fists warmed up nicely.

6. “What the F***”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Ghetto Warfare (2006)

“Why the fuck are you fucking with me?
Don’t you know I’m suffering from a disease
Called LeaveMeTheFuckAlone
The only way to cure it is to LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE” – Lil Fame

It’s no secret that cursing is a key part of M.O.P.’s arsenal but the MoPee boys make it an art form on this wild Premier collaboration. The beat is an oddity; stuttering and minimal; yet “What the Fuck” ends up becoming one of Billy and Fame’s best performances. The verses are simply ridiculous as if multiple lines of cocaine were ingested before they quite literally jumped into the recording booth. It’s fucking majestic.

5. “Downtown Swinga ’94”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: N/A

“When I die, make sure you bury me with a cassette of Paid In Full” – Lil Fame

Of all their early work, the original “Downtown Swinga” stands out the most. Their first collaboration with DJ Premier isn’t too far removed from Black Moon’s classic “Shit Iz Real” and sees Billy and Fame showing how Das EFX influenced every emcee by 1994. But this was a B-side from a DJ Premier remix of 1994’s “Rugged Neva Smoove” and showed that no matter where the Brownsvillains popped up, they turned in a memorable performance.

4. “Stand Clear”
Artist: Adam F. feat. M.O.P.
Album: Kaos (2001)

“I bring the hardcore for the suckers that got war
And the thugs in the street screaming YEAH WE LIKE IT RAW” – Lil Fame

Adam F’s foray into hip hop was an interesting time. The drum and bass producer knew how to hype crowds so his “Kaos” project in 2001 mostly succeeded, thanks to superstar rappers being handed cinematic, blockbusting production. The single “Stand Clear” remains one of M.O.P.’s best songs as it had every ingredient spot-on: the stomping horns, crashing snares and piano stabs all aided by an unusually long build-up (harking to Adam’s roots). As soon as it drops though, it’s carnage throughout.

3. “1/2 & 1/2”
Artist: Gang Starr feat. M.O.P.
Album: Blade OST (1999)

“I’ma take the competition with me, Lord forgive me
But a whole bunch, of blood-sucking punks, is out to get me”

While associated with the Wesley Snipes action-horror vehicle “Blade”, “1/2 & 1/2” is not just one of the best M.O.P. tracks but also one of the best Gang Starr ones. It’s Premier coming off of ‘98’s classic “Moment of Truth” – 1999 was also the year we were blessed with “Nas Is Like”, “Full Clip” and “So Ghetto”. And Billy and Fame take the military theme to the extreme as Prodigy cites “there’s a war going on outside” – it’s destructive in a beautiful way and at least the frequent references to “blood-suckers” is in line with the movie it’s promoted with.

2. “Calm Down”
Artist: M.O.P. 
Album: Warriorz LP (2000)

“You’re f***ing with the original Backstreet Boys” – Billy Danze

One of the more unconventional songs in their repertoire, “Calm Down” is an example of the incredible chemistry the duo possess that I don’t think any other in hip hop history can demonstrate. Their adlibs are infamous, their lyrics unexpectedly poignant (“Stuck on the streets like car tyres”) and the hilarious imagery of Fame ripping the Cross off of John Paul III. I mean, the fact that the track is called “Calm Down” is rich, given both emcees are in full-on Super Saiyan mode over a smooth-ass beat made by Fame himself. It’s predictably raucous in a way only M.O.P. can deliver.

1. “On The Front Line”
Artist: M.O.P.
Album: Warriorz (2000)

“Didn’t them n****s warn ya BAM (BUKA BUKA) BAM
(BUKA BUKA BUKA BUKA) Get the fuck up off the corner!” – Lil’ Fame

The quintessential DJ Premier collaboration and a primary reason why many are eagerly anticipating any news on the long-awaited full-length. Concise, sinister, and both emcees are at their peak, fitting in the pocket of the beat PERFECTLY. While many of M.O.P.’s more vicious crowd-pleasers may stick out on a playlist or DJ mix, “On the Front Line” caters to the hardcore, the old heads, and would push you further in any gym session. It’s the high point of their best album and for me, their best track.