FEATURE: M.O.P., Hardbody
You could pair Hulk Hogan and Kimbo Slice and you wouldn’t match the tag team of M.O.P. Comprised of Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame, the head-bashing Brooklyn duo has thrived on impeccable synergy since first hitting the hip-hop scene with 1994’s To The Death. After fifteen years, eight albums, and a couple fruitless stints at Roc-A-Fella (2001-2005) and G-Unit (2005-2008), the hardcore rap tandem remains raw—hotter than a “4 Alarm Blaze,” yet “Cold As Ice.”
Chalk up the steadfast consistency to staying grounded. Perhaps that’s the theme of the twosome’s upcoming album, Foundation, promised to offer the same Timberland boot-friendly sounds of past bangers like the 2000 stick-up anthem, “Ante Up (Robbin Hoodz Theory).” And with solo albums in the works from both Mash Out Posse members—Billy’s Behind Gates and Fame’s And the Glory—the two are out to prove they can each stand on their own. But not before delivering a double-forearmed clothesline to trite rappers, skinny jeans and Jay-Z’s wifey. Blaow!
XXLMag.com: Foundation is M.O.P.’s first fully original album since 2000’s Warriorz. What should fans expect from the 2009 M.O.P.?
Lil’ Fame: The album’s rugged like a motherfucker. Same shit, nothing different from how we’ve been doing shit. It’s good to be back working again, have some good music out.
Billy Danze: Hell yeah. We’re in a recession—a dope-music recession—with all this bullshit.
Lil' Fame: Look what they did to these kids. These kids lookin’ fucked up now, walking around with muthafuckin' dungaree spandex on. Shit is crazy. [Laughs] Pants stuffed inside they sneakers and shit.
Billy Danze: Yeah, with muthafuckin’ rubber bands all around your shit. Back in the days, the older Gs were wearing straight leg Lees, but they was able to fight and run when a motherfucker start shooting. These niggas can’t fight and run now. Little-ass pants. Them shits be lookin’ crazy [Laughs].
Lil' Fame: Dressin’ like a lady.
XXL: The skinny jeans are kind of symbolic of the emo rap movement—with the Drakes and Kid Cudis. With a lot of the more emotional raps going on, is M.O.P. asking “How About Some Hardcore?”
Billy Danze: Well, Drake and Cudi [are] dope. If you put somebody in front of me that’s not dope, I’ma say that’s wack. You can talk to Melle Mel and Kool Herc and all these dudes that really started hip-hop; these dudes are proud that hip-hop didn’t stand still. Hip-hop is supposed to evolve. That’s how you keep it fresh. New people come in the game—
Lil' Fame: Let’s not get crazy, though. [Laughs] This shit is getting out of hand. Some of this shit don’t need to be going on.
XXL: So what’s bumping in your iPods?
Billy Danze: I don’t really listen to rap music. I listen to old shit, like when R&B was rhythm and blues. Not um, what’s the shit? [Sings] You got a big ego. [Laughs] I love [Beyoncé], but I don’t understand why you’d try to make my daughter listen to a song where you know good and goddamn well you’re talking about a nigga’s dick, trying to spin it around and talk about an ego. Fuck outta here.
Lil' Fame: I bump reggae hard as a muthafucka. Like it’s hip-hop.
XXL: Interesting, one of rap’s most rugged acts, and neither of you listen to much hip-hop?
Lil' Fame: Yeah, I just like the old school classic shit, '90s shit, album cuts that nobody know. I don’t like radio music. The music nowadays, you can’t just put on an album—like a Slick Rick album—and listen to the whole shit. It’s like two [good] songs on the album.
Billy Danze: They’re saying the same shit. I can’t be that excited about a fucking watch and chain anymore, because everybody’s talking about the same watch and the same chain. Your Cadillac, Ferrari, alright. I got a Buick! I’m doing a Buick, nigga. And I ain’t got 20s on it. Somebody need to create a new car, this way we can get excited about a muthafucka talking about a car again.
XXL: Are you guys fans of the Clipse? They’ve been proclaiming themselves the “best duo ever” lately.
Billy Danze: The Clipse is dope, dude.
Lil' Fame: Yeah, they dope as a muthafucka. M.O.P. is dope as a motherfucker, though.
Billy Danze: You don’t think the Clipse should’ve said that? What do you think?
XXL: They’ve got a lot of competition. There’s OutKast, Mobb Deep, UGK, EPMD, M.O.P…
Lil' Fame: We forgot about all those names, son. Come to think about it, you right, son.
Billy Danze: Nah, they dope though, dude. They dope.
Lil' Fame: I ain’t even gonna front, I actually slept on the Clipse. Until I did some production [for The Re-Up Gang]. From there I realized how dope them muthafuckas was. They was going over my head a lot, I kinda slept on them. But they’re dope.
XXL: Fame, you also did a lot of production on Wu-Tang Clan's latest disc, Chamber Music, under your Fizzy Womack alias. Was it difficult to tap into the Wu sound?
Lil' Fame: Well, actually, RZA was there when I was working on the shit. We actually did it with a band. We let the band make music, and we chopped it up like it was a record. Got the soul samples that he liked and I chopped them up. That’s how that worked. It was fun. Making beats is just fun for me. I do that shit with my eyes closed. [Laughs] Being cosigned by RZA, that’s gon’ have me more gassed up.
XXL: Y’all each also have solo albums on the way. Musically, what’s the biggest difference between Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame?
Billy Danze: Fame’s just weird.
Lil' Fame: Billy’s fuckin’ throat’s always hurting. [Laughs]
Billy Danze: My shit hurt right now. I swear to God my shit hurt right now. I’m tired of screaming and yelling. [Laughs]
Lil' Fame: Billy comes across as older, like, I been there and I’m telling you this.
Billy Danze: I think the basic difference is you can actually get what Fame’s thinking when he’s not in the studio with me. Or when I get his big ass out and he heads to the bathroom, what the fuck is on my mind. So the M.O.P. fan—we don’t call them fans anymore, we call them family ‘cause they been around so long—the family really needs to get different perspectives of M.O.P.
XXL: It’s been 15 years since your debut album, and M.O.P. has been able to maintain a solid fanbase. What’s been your secret to staying consistent, yet evolving at the same time?
Lil' Fame: We bad, nigga.
Billy Danze: It starts at the beginning. We didn’t follow nobody else’s steps, we did what we knew how to do, what we were good at. And that’s what we do today. It don’t change. People don’t really change. If a muthafucka change, he didn’t really change, he’s just showing you what the fuck he really is. M.O.P. continues to do M.O.P. Hardbody! —John Kennedy