Jubilant isn’t a characterization expected when describing Billy Danze, but today, the muscular half of M.O.P. is walking around in flip-flops, happily shaking hands and playing the role of host. Surprisingly upbeat, Danze’s laughing, smoking and drinking during a press day at Eagle’s Nest Studio in Manhattan for his new rap-rock group, Hevi Medal, and their self-titled debut album. Comprised of Billy, Ikkabod, Fox and Mounia Tajou, the group will release their LP at the end of the year on Hevi Medal Music/Geffen. It’s another M.O.P. side project—much like 2004’s Mash Out Posse and 2005’s St. Marxmen—but once again, it’s not the album fans have patiently been waiting for since the Brooklyn duo released their last official album, Warriorz, seven years ago on Loud Records. After Loud folded in 2002, Danze and partner Lil’ Fame signed with Roc-A-Fella Records the following year and announced their fifth album, Ghetto Warfare. Little did they know that the Roc dynasty was slowly crumbling, leaving M.O.P. in purgatory and their album shelved indefinitely. Finally freeing themselves from that situation, the Mash Out Posse found a new home at 50 Cent’s G-Unit Records in 2005. But in the two years since then, the Brownsville, Brooklyn natives have yet to release any material from their newly titled album, Yearly Physical. With fans growing impatient and critics still skeptical if G-Unit is the right fit for M.O.P, XXLMag.com tracked down the elusive Billy Danze to get the official word on their relationship with 50 Cent and his new rock album.
What’s the status of M.O.P.’s album on G-Unit, Yearly Physical?
I think you’ll definitely get an album on G-Unit later on this year. They were a little backed up in releasing their [other] artists due to the major success they had. This is my thoughts, I’m not really sure, but that’s what it seems. So I think later on this year. I’m actually going to talk to 50 next week and we’ll sit down and come up with a plan. Because we have a gang of music, so we need to start launching it.
Two weeks ago, 50 Cent did an interview with another online publication and when he was asked about M.O.P.’s album, he said, “Until they’re actually ready, I won’t release their record. I ain’t gonna bet on a horse with three legs, no matter how much I like the horse.” What’s your response to that?
You really believe that? I didn’t hear it, so I wouldn’t even comment. But I’m sure, whoever reads this interview…. First of all, I’m not a bitch. We’re not gonna mix this up with me being a bitch and just being a man and saying I didn’t hear anything like that. This is the first time I ever heard that. So I’ll speak to Fif’ about it tomorrow. I’ll see exactly what he means and then I’ll give you a call and let you know exactly what he meant. I don’t really fuck with the computer, so if that’s what he said, then that could be looked at as disrespect. But I’m a grown man, so I’ll go talk to him about it and see what happens.
Through all the delays with Roc-A-Fella and G-Unit, do you feel like M.O.P. has ever gotten a fair shot?
Of course, my kids are well. [Laughs] When I get on stage, that’s my fair shot. Anything I do, that’s my fair shot. We control our own shit and that’s just it. We’ve always been given a fair shot. After, maybe, the second album [1996’s Firing Squad], we’ve really been given a fair shot. The first album [1994’s To the Death], not really because we couldn’t get nobody to listen. The second album, we were still in that same phase. [With] the third album [1998’s First Family 4 Life], the world was ours. So we’re doing well. I love the space that we’re in right now. Everything is great.
You guys haven’t had an album in seven years but people still care about M.O.P. What does that say about your legacy?
I know what it says. But it’s not about what I think; it’s about what somebody else thinks. If there are still people telling me, “Go, go, go. Bring me that shit,” then I’m gonna bring it to you. I’m comfortable with just being Billy Danze. I don’t need to be what a muthafucka wants me to be. I gotta be me. And this thing has worked out pretty good for me. My children are well. My lady is well. So it’s a long way from the bag of shit I come from. I’m fuckin’ rich! From the bag of shit I come from, I’m fuckin’ loaded. So I’m happy as shit. I got the dream team around me and all my niggas are still here. It’s always been family with us. Family is everything. So the seven-year hiatus is just a seven-year hiatus. That just gave us enough time to come up with a gang of muthafuckin’ plans. Because when we launch this thing on ’em, it’s going to be fuckin’ crucial. When I say crucial, my nigga, I mean crucial. I don’t know if niggas are really going to be able to deal with it. They can hate all they want, they ain’t gonna be able to fuck with it, though. I guarantee it.
Say your official album doesn’t come out this year as planned. Would you ever think about leaving G-Unit?
I don’t need any label to keep my legacy going. G-Unit brought something to the table for M.O.P. I went on a world tour with these dudes. I appreciate it. They’ve brought something to us and we brought some attention to them. M.O.P. and G-Unit don’t have any differences. So I don’t really see us getting off G-Unit, especially for no reason. If I had a reason to go like, “Fuck that, them niggas ain’t treatin’ us right,” then I’d bounce. But that’s not the case. I’ma fair dude. I’m a fair nigga! I’m a fair gangsta! I’m a grown man. Business is business. If it’s not going to work then we’re not going to do it. That’s it. Maybe that’s what 50 was saying, but I’ll talk to him about it.
Is the rock heavy influence on Hevi Medal just a natural progression for you?
Yeah, it’s something that we always like doing. Over the last two years I’ve been sitting back listening to Nickelback, Korn, and all them dudes. Of course, I can’t do it like them, but I’m trying to get close. If I get close, I’m still better than most. It’s something we’ve been doing since the beginning of M.O.P. anyway with records like “Rugged Neva Smoove” and “Handle Ur Bizness.” We’ve always been on that rock line; we’ve just never really dedicated an entire album to it outside of the Mash Out Posse joint. Plus, this gave me a shot to work with other artists as well. It’s working out pretty good. We’ve been getting good feedback.
Tell us about the lead single off the Hevi Medal album, “7:30.”
We got my man Ikkabod from Detroit [on the track]. The kid is an incredible rapper and writer. He’s got energy like we need. He’s got that M.O.P. energy. So we’ve figured out a little niche to work together. We came up with the “7:30” joint, which is the first single. We got the video and everything for it. It’s a slow climb but it’s doing rather well. We are doing it all ourselves without any major help. It’s working out.