M.O.P. (Mash Out Posse), a duo made up of rappers Billy Danze and Lil' Fame (who produces under the name "Fizzy Womack"), is one of the those groups that you either absolutely love or just cannot even fathom listening to. Their hardcore style has captured the hearts of many hip-hop fans, but at the same time, their act quickly wore thin on many others. Basically, they scream on nearly every track. Think of them as another version of Onyx, or even as DMX times 20.
In the game since 1993, M.O.P. has released eight albums, their most recent being Foundation in September of last year. Over the years, the two rappers formed a partnership with DJ Premier and, subsequently, Premo has contributed productions on nearly every one of their albums since Firing Squad in '96. However, I think it is pretty clear to most rap fanatics that DJ Premier's work with M.O.P. is not his best, so don't get too excited over the prospect of them joining forces.
Of all of the eight albums that M.O.P. has dropped, Warriorz is their most well-known, selling the most copies of any of their projects and being home to the group's most popular song, "Ante Up." That said, the fact that Warriorz is regarded as their best work isn't really saying much, as M.O.P. has always struggled to put together a good, complete album, and, given their style, it's obvious as to why that is.
Let's take a look, shall we?
1. Welcome To Brownsville
If you're new to M.O.P., you will realize that the two rappers in the group sound very, very similar. The best way to tell them apart is to keep it in your mind that Billy Danze's voice is a bit deeper and gruffer than Lil' Fame's. Anyway, Fizzy Womack lays down this beat, and it's nothing spectacular. Teflon, an M.O.P. affiliate who manages to adopt the duo's sound to a tee, makes a guest appearance, and he just sounds awful. Not a bad start, but not a great one, either.
2. Every Day
You will be able to identify this as a Premo track as soon as it begins. That doesn't mean it's any good, though, as R&B singers (in this case, The G&B Product [yeah; I've never heard of him either]) just do not complement M.O.P. well at all.
3. Ante Up
Now this is a banger, and it has become an anthem for athletes everywhere who want to pump themselves up before a game. You may recognize the "ohh, ohh, ohh" in the beginning as being from Pharoahe Monch's song, "Desire," as The Alchemist sampled "Ante Up" for that cut. Anyway, DR Period's beat on this will make you want to punch the nearest object, so I suggest you distance yourself from any humans or animals (or walls) before playing this.
4. Face Off
DJ Premier's second beat on the album. The production is pretty good, but it's a bit too slow for M.O.P., as Billy Danze and Lil' Fame don't sound too comfortable over this, as they seem to be struggling to adjust to the pace of the instrumental. Fortunately, Premo's work makes this listenable.
Mahogany Music produced this record. He makes good use of the vocal sample, but the rest of it is pretty meh. On the bright side, Billy Danze's hook is pretty good.
Billy Danze yelling "bang your head against the wall!" at the start is pretty funny, and the M.O.P.-produced beat, while actually a bit comical, is alright. Still, this just isn't very good. By this point of the album, "Ante Up" is the only track that possesses any kind of replay value to me.
7. Old Timerz
Laze E Laze's beat doesn't sound like something M.O.P. would rap over, but it doesn't matter, because this comes out sounding really good, both in terms of production and rapping. As the title suggests, M.O.P. pays homage to the old school on this cut, which is by far the second best song on Warriorz thus far.
8. On The Front Line
Another Premo beat. Unfortunately, it pretty much bombs. It's just way too busy, and neither Billy Danze or Lil' Fame put forth any kind of performance worth noting.
"Nig-Gotiate?" Ohhhh. I get it! Anyway, this Fizzy Womack-laced cut is actually solid (funny how none of the best songs on this album so far were produced by DJ Premier). This has a real old-school vibe to it, and when I say old-school, I mean old-school in the sense that it sounds like something you'd hear on one of those videos displaying the streets of New York in the 1920s. Not bad.
10. Follow Instructions
Finally; a good Premo beat on here. Saying this is "good" is actually doing it an injustice, too, because the production is sick. M.O.P. seems right at home on it, as both rappers flow seamlessly without restraint.
11. Calm Down
And then we're given this. Ugh. Fizzy Womack's beat on this just grates on the ears. Avoid "Calm Down" at all costs.
Another Fizzy Womack beat, another dud. Although this isn't as bad as "Calm Down," it isn't exactly a sound for sore ears (is that even an expression?).
13. Home Sweet Home
Ahh. Back on the right track. Nottz, one of my favorite producers right now, drops some fire for M.O.P. and guest artist Lord Have Mercy, who sounds pretty damn good on this, making for what is absolutely one of the best songs on Warriorz. Seriously; why don't more big-name artists utilize Nottz? The dude is terrific.
14. Background Niggaz
For some reason, DR Period decided to channel his inner Dr. Dre and DJ Premier and combine them into some awful force comparable to a guy with horrendous B.O. applying cologne without taking a shower. It just makes things worse.
15. Cold As Ice
Yes. Yes. YES. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the greatest M.O.P. track of all-time. Yes; better than "Ante Up." Much better, actually. The vocal sample that Fizzy Womack uses throughout is phenomenal, and the piano hits and drums are sick. This is not just my favorite M.O.P. song, but one of my favorite songs, period.
16. Operation Lockdown
So we go from "Cold As Ice" to this trash? First of all, naming this song "Operation Lockdown" is doing a major disservice to Heltah Skeltah's classic track of the same name on Nocturnal. Second of all, Chris Coker, who I've never heard of up until now, did an awful job on the boards. His beat somewhat resembles the "Put Up Or Shut Up" instrumental DJ Premier did for Guru on The Ownerz, but the main difference is that Premo's beat was actually, um, good.
17. Roll Call
You've really gotta wonder if Premo just pulled some instrumentals he dumped in his recycle bin and handed them to M.O.P. for this project, because his beat on "Roll Call" is another bust.
Whoever the heck Curt Cazal is, he should stay away from any music production programs or recording studios, because this crap sounds like, well, whatever crap would sound like.
To be honest, Warriorz was seriously painful to listen to all the way through. Not only are the majority of the beats pretty bad, but hearing those terrible instrumentals plus M.O.P.'s constant yelling for 18 tracks will make you want to dig your eardrums out.
Don't expect any kind of Gang Starr-like production from DJ Premier here, as it seems like he sleepwalked through three of his five productions and just didn't put any effort into them at all. I have never been as big of a fan as Premo as many others, but I have always enjoyed his work with Guru, Jeru The Damaja, and the like. However, his production on Warriorz really sounds amateurish. For his standards, anyway.
Maybe if this album wasn't so long, I could tolerate it a bit more, but the length of this record really ruins any kind of enjoyable listening experience one could take out of this. The fact that it is considered to be M.O.P.'s most impressive album is scary.
Don't get me wrong; there are some really good songs on Warriorz, but as a whole, the album just doesn't hold up very well. There is very little variety, and it obviously isn't for everyone. I'm sure some of M.O.P.'s hardcore fans will enjoy it, but for the non-Stan, this just isn't very impressive. But hey; at least it had "Cold As Ice."
TOP FIVE TRACKS
1. Cold As Ice
2. Ante Up
3. Follow Instructions
4. Old Timerz
5. Home Sweet Home
Every song not listed in the top five except for "Face Off" and "Nig-Gotiate."