25 November, 2011@9:49 pm
Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame – collectively known as M.O.P. – have been one of the most consistent New York hip-hop groups since Gang Starr, continuing to deliver an unadulterated, undiluted brand of raw street-hop for almost two decades. The pinnacle of their career was with their 2000 single “Ante Up”, which led arguably the strongest LP in their catalog, Warriorz, leading to a short-lived (but failed) stint with Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records. Since then, they’ve released a number of projects – some hit, some missed – but overall the group’s trademark sound was always in tact.
With their latest effort, Sparta, M.O.P. teams with German production duo The Snowgoons, who produce the entire LP. This lends a unified sound to the album, which is built around a theme of the duo being “300-minus-298″, as noted on the blistering title track. This trademark sense of humor comes through all over the album, as M.O.P. are perhaps the only people that can take gruesome subjects like murder, bullets, and death and make them darkly funny. Case in point is on “Blasphemy (Blast 4 Me)”, a clever play on words that bangs with the classic mash-out sound.
And for the most part, The Snowgoons get that sound right. While we’ve been spoiled by the longtime production of DJ Premier over the years, The Snowgoons do a pretty good job of filling that void, such as on the anthem “Back At It”, the paired down “Get Yours”, and the brooding “Opium”. The duo also sounds reinvigorated, layering the vocals with their patented call-and-response style and phonetic gun-claps all over this LP. They’ve got the energy back, something that seemed to be missing on their last LP, which at times went into blase’, murkier territory.
Truth be told, this is one of the stronger M.O.P. releases that we’ve seen in the last few years, and while it doesn’t capture the sound of the glory years perfectly, it still bangs throughout it’s concise, ten-song playlist. With their next LP already announced, Brownsvillains, we’re anxious to see if this energy can be tapped again by other producers as well.
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