Browsing through my archive, looking for something to work out to, I stumbled across this record which I had not listened to in years. M.O.P. are a Hip Hop duo consisting of Billy Danze (left) and Lil Fame (right) from Brownsville New York. In 2000 the group peaked commercially with this, their fourth record, Warriorz. Hit songs "Cold As Ice" & "Anti-Up" saw unexpected mainstream success at a time when Eminem & Dr.Dre's popularity was undoubtedly influencing mainstream's exposure to Hip Hop music, and opening the doors for other artists. Although its not a classic, this record was a favorite in my youth at a time when I was discovering the worlds of Hip Hop and Heavy Metal. "Anti-Up" was especially successful, so much so it charted in the UK outside the usual alternative charts which it topped. Ill never forget hearing two old radio presenters on BBC radio one loving the track and getting into it, rapping along with the song live on the air.
The duo have a dynamic relationship, complimenting one another at every turn. M.O.P. deliver a lot of energy through their raps and fiery vocal delivery. In their stronger, energetic moments the two back up each others rhymes and chime in to echo one another in an interlinking manor. Its not uncommon to hear rappers support other rhymes, but the two do it in a hyped and intense character that is their own. Both Danze and Fame have big, loud delivery and slightly gruff tones to their voices, their frenetic, shouty flows are attention grabbing and make for a fiery delivery of their lyrics. The content is surprisingly tame in retrospect. Lyrically they write solid raps, but the violence isn't quite what I remember, lots of stories of street life and coming up from it, but next to no misogynistic lyrics which has become so commonly associated with Rap music. On the track "Face Off" Danze delivers the a verse that stuck in my mind all these years, a track of two distinct half's that goes from struggle to swagger, "I'm a mess with stress, though I present it with finesse, sometimes I feel as if my heart is coming out my chest". A dramatic expression which Fame's verse in the second half goes in another direction. Across the record the two deliver many gripping stories and thoughts to dive into.
The beats that back the duos energetic presences are solid, audacious, polished works finely constructed with drum machines, electronic instruments and unimposing sampling that reflects the 90s-00s era. With production from DJ Premier its not surprising the quality is high. The beats have that composure and air about them, similar to Dr.Dre's "2001", that give lots of room for the drums to deliver tightly composed kick and snare grooves, accompanied by clear, melodic keys and instruments that drive home catchy melodies and kicks. The albums first half is strong, tight beats, a range of themes and a tribute to the oldskool, but the second half does tire a little as the album spans seventy minutes. Despite a range of creative beats the formula stretches on to a couple of good tracks near the end. Terrific record from my youth that still sounds great in its best moments.
Favorite Tracks: Everyday, Ante Up, Face Off, Warriorz, Old Timerz, On The Front Line, Cold As Ice, Operation Lockdown, Foundation.