There’s a fine line between “real” Hip Hop and real, official Hip Hop!! That’s a line that M.O.P. walks on the day to day. Loved by not only backpackers, but the ghetto-fabulous, 50 Cent, Lil Weezy adoring fans as well, Billy Danz and Lil’ Fame have refused to follow the current trends that have plagued the Hip Hop culture. They don’t “bounce”, “floss”, and they sure as hell don’t give a damn about keeping it “over-lyrical”. For those same reasons, M.O.P. has gained the respect from Hip Hop’s true school. Some, on the other hand, can’t stomach the continuous guntalk or the mounting death tolls over their usual ear-jarring production. Still, it’s considered by purists to be real Hip Hop sh*t, and that’s exactly what the Mash Out Posse brought to the table with their opus, “Warriorz”.
Joints like “G-Building”, “On Tha’ Front Line” and “Downtown Swinga” satisfied even the most loyal M.O.P. fan. But it was the duo’s reunion with producer DR Period on “Ante Up” that proved that M.O.P. could appeal to an even broader market beyond New York. While the elements that made M.O.P. notorious were still there, the progression on “Warriorz” was very evident. “Everyday” was a delightful change from the norm over an upbeat DJ Premier track, even though it seemed far from what M.O.P. usually brought to the table (much like “Street Life” from the duo’s recent LP, “Foundation”). With “Warriorz”, there was also improvement in M.O.P.’s adrenaline-laced sound. Surprisingly, the two hottest joints weren’t even produced by the ingenious mind of Preemo but rather Fizzy Womack himself. The haunting beat juggling he did on “Calm Down” was clearly one of M.O.P.’s best tracks ever. However, it’s the sped up sample of Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice” that takes the cake as one of the hardest raps songs ever laid on wax.
Though the so-so production of “Nigotiate” and the cluttered “Background Nig*as” did nothing to help the album, “Warriorz” is probably M.O.P.’s best album to date. While they may never sell a ridiculous amount of records, as proved with “Foundation”, no matter the label, they sure as hell are gonna’ be around for even many more years to come.
“Fantastic, Vol. 2″-Slum Village
A Tribe Called Quest gave me three outstanding albums (their first three that is)! I liked their “Beats, Rhymes and Life” but as a follow-up to “Midnight Marauders”, well, I guess you could only lose. It was a good album and it felt very much like my “Tribe”, it just didn’t knock me out my socks. More significantly, they introduced us to their new production team “The Ummah”, consisting of Q-Tip, Ali and a kid they had met backstage at a show in Detroit (the question at hand: “why would those guys need some help anyway???”). “The Love Movement” on the other hand will forever be their least appreciated piece of work. For once, they had already announced their break-up, stating that this would be their last album (Great PR- yeah right), plus the sound and feel of the album was just too different. If you’re a crate-digger and you’ve came across some the tunes ATCQ have sampled for their first three albums, you will notice very straight-forward techniques (less chopped up pieces, more or less multi-layered loops), typical light drum-sounds with abounding detail on their arrangements. Now, I challenge anybody to name me three samples of the “Love Movement”! You’ll get the idea? I very much hope so… Jay Dee, and if you listen to the “Love Movement” right now (matter of fact do it RIGHT NOW), it was way ahead of his time and his testament is not the music that he has left behind, it’s inarguably the respect, the admiration and marveling his peers and colleagues showcase when they still talk about him!
Never compromising his integrity as an artist, Dilla influenced the modern sound (not only Hip Hop) in many ways beyond comprehension: He single-handedly made it cool to replace the snare with a clap; he chopped up samples soooo hard, I bet the original artist wouldn’t recognize their own work. Overall, a genius who’s left us way too early. Slum Village? Anything after “Fantastic Vol.2″ has flown under my radar, somewhat. I didn’t like the T3 and Baatin back then and the only reason “Fantastic Vol.2″ was and still is a winner is due to the outstanding production and the guest-features. If Busta Rhymes provides the best verse on your album, you sure a have a situation! Great production, good guests, viable lyricism. Still, one of the finest albums to bless these ears in the 2K’s!!
“H.N.I.C.”-Prodigy (of Mobb Deep)
After four successful (two classics) albums as 1/2 of Mobb Deep, Prodigy took a temporary break from the group and released his first solo effort. “H.N.I.C.” (an acronym for “Head Ni#ga In Charge”) in middle stages of 2000. One of the main factoids that alot of cats fail to realize is that “H.N.I.C.” actually sold a highly respectable 700,000 copies…not too shabby in this day and age. On this extremely impressive solo debut, Prodigy collaborated with a long list of featured guest rappers, many of who also emerged from Prodigy’s Queensbridge stomping grounds, and he also worked with a variety of producers, most notably the Alchemist (who handled the beats on “H.N.I.C.’s” first single “Keep It Thoro”) and an up and coming Just Blaze on “Diamond”.
Prodigy’s partner in rhyme, Havoc, made only two appearances over the course of the 22-track album on “Wanna Be Thugs” and “Dealt With The Bullsh*t”, yet did handle production duties on a few more cuts. Despite the number of outside contributors, H.N.I.C. wasn’t much of a departure for Prodigy or his work found on prior Mobb Deep classics such as “The Infamous” or “Hell On Earth”. On his solo debut, Prodigy remained true stylistically and spit his usual lyrical fodder over an assortment of productions that were eerily reminiscent of Mobb Deep’s albums. All of this pleased die-hard Mobb fans, as this album was simply a twist on the legendary Queensbridge duo’s usual approach.