Since M.O.P. [click to read] last spoke, they signed with 50 Cent [click to read] and Interscope for a shocking but subsequently fruitless deal. Lil Fame’s production abilities have escalated him to one of the best artist-producers in Hip Hop, and Busta Rhymes [click to read], AZ [click to read] and RZA [click to read] all have taken notice. The Brownsville duo released three semi-official albums, toying with everything from guitars and Metal bands [click to read] to new group names (St. Marxmen) [click to read] and raiding the Roc-A-Fella master vaults for a good old fashioned bootleg. Since M.O.P. last spoke, they’ve gotten older, wiser and undoubtedly angrier.
After dead ends at Roc and G-Unit, M.O.P. has returned exactly where they were in 2000 with Warriorz [click to read] – a veteran outfit that shows their wisdom, still maintaining status as two of the most unconventional emcees Hip Hop ever witnessed. Reunited with DJ Premier, D/R Period and Nottz [click to read], Foundation is an appropriate title for Rap’s AC/DC. Nine years later, the message is still, “For those about to mash out, we salute you.”
Put the growl and the breathless delivery aside and Fame and Bill have always been substantial emcees raised on the golden era. “I’m A Brownsvillain” is how fans want an M.O.P. album to start, with butchered guitar riffs and a barking chorus of angst and apathy. Nottz offers up one of his most aggressive beats in years, as Billy posts verbal warning signs to neighborhood visitors, while Lil Fame goes back and recalls that he was once a kindergarten classmate of another D/R Period backed ‘90s alum, Smoothe Da Hustler [click to read]. The decade-later reunion with DJ Premier is not in the canon of “How About Some Hardcore (Remix),” “Downtown Swinga” and “Faceoff.” Instead, First Family and the Gang Starr Foundation update their collaborative catalog with a gliding beat, assisted by Rell in “What I Wanna B.” This packs the polish to have been on either of Mash Out Posse’s shelved major label efforts, but still isn’t centered around the strong-hold of the street, as many may have expected. As seasoned showmen, M.O.P.’s choruses and efforts in making songs out of tracks show their wisdom throughout Foundation. “Bang Time” [click to listen] a DJ Green Lantern-produced [click to read] is the hard-nosed M.O.P. that made the group who they are today.
While Warriorz was a literal roll call, complete with Teflon and Laze E Laze sprinkled throughout, Foundation is not. Busta Rhymes, Redman and Styles P [click to read] support their early ‘90s peers with features, while Termanology [click to read] appears on “Crazy” [click to listen] to finish out the guest-list. Although Nottz, D/R Period and DJ Premier pull this album above the vanity releases (St. Marxmen, Ghetto Warfare and Mash Out Posse), it’s Statik Selektah [click to read] and Lil Fame who really deliver some of the most impressive sounds. The Boston-turned-Brooklyn deejay/producer outdoes himself on “Forever And Always.” Careful drum programming and deft Soul sampling make the song cry, or as Fame decries, smell like “the pissy hallways” of Brooklyn’s projects. Foundation does not try to recreate the “Ante Up” anthems or the “4 Alarm Blaze” crossover bids. Instead, Fame and Billy do what they’ve always done in between the singles – murder the verses about keeping hearses heavy. Between the barking and the beatings though, are odes to Hip Hop and Brooklyn preservation, and two men who seem to be ecstatic to still be carrying on tradition.
In its liner notes, Foundation says that, “M.O.P. appears courtesy of G-Unit/Interscope Records.” The L.A.-based label may have never matched 50 Cent’s vision of letting the world hear what the core of Hip Hop has known for 15 years. Still, Fame and Danz haven’t lost a step, and their fifth official album towers high and above the efforts of nearly every new-jack 360-deal artist signed during their hiatus.