(E1 Music)

Throughout their career, M.O.P. have epitomized hardcore hip-hop. Now, after numerous mixtapes and side projects, the firing squad returns with Foundation, their first LP in nine years.

M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame and Billy Danze waste no time delivering their patented brand of adrenaline-pumping music. With “Crazy,” Fame makes a clear distinction between reality television and the street’s harsh realities, as he spits, “This ain’t making of the band, this is making of the ‘BLAM’!” Never wavering, the duo keep it consistent on “Ghetto,” where over a creeping guitar and a wailing vocal sample they drop more gritty details about their impoverished Brooklyn digs. The angry barbs are not misguided, though—Billy and Fizzy Womack’s relationship is deeper than rap and thoroughly explained on the Statik Selektah–produced “Forever and Always,” an ode to the group’s humble beginnings.

There are, however, a few minor miscues. Like “Make ’Em Clap,” where producer Tailor Made’s staccato drums and organ stabs never really find their groove. And “Riding Thru,” featuring Redman, falters at the hands of a lazily crafted hook, if nothing else. Luckily, “Brooklyn,” a smoky, reggae-infused anthem about the county of Kings puts the project back on its proper footing, as Billy offers assistance to overzealous tourists.

Not many groups maintain an excellence of execution after 15 years in the game, but M.O.P. are far from ordinary. If anything, Fame and Danze sound as hungry as ever, and for fans of that hardcore, Foundation is just one more dose of that raw. –Paul Cantor