‘’Realness’’ is always a trending topic in the world of Hip Hop. Rappers from Atlanta to Albany are constantly trying to prove their ‘’realness’’ by random acts of toughness. But I dare you to find an act ‘’realer’’ than the Brownsville natives Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame of M.O.P. No gimmicks, or games, M.O.P. has built a legacy out of being raw with pure unadulterated authenticity. And in this interview, the ‘’Godfathers of Hardcore Hip Hop’’ discuss their new album, Sparta, and how the album’s exclusive production from Germany producers The Snowgoons is going to give you the best M.O.P you’ve ever heard.
Uptown: How did you guys meet the Snowgoons and why did you guys let them produce the entire album?
Billy Danze: Well, that happened with the owner of the label. He called me up personally and asked me would we be up with doing a project with the Snowgoons. I didn’t know much about them at the time. I heard a few songs. So we decided it to give it a shot. They sent us like 100 tracks. The hardest thing about this album was to pick tracks out of 100, because they sent a lot of great tracks. Personally, I think we pulled something great off.
Uptown: Why the name Sparta?
Billy: Because we fighters dog!
Lil’ Fame: We fight for what we believe in, know what I mean?
Billy: If you pay attention to M.O.P, we’ve always been out of the box from what other people do. So, it was like everyone was against us when we were in our own lane. Like, them 300 cats. We always been fighters, and we still fighting to this day
Uptown: M.O.P. is known for ‘’Hardcore Hip Hop.”’ Would you say Hip Hop has gotten soft?
Fame: Hip Hop took a turn and went in such a way that I aint familiar with the block that it turned on. I grew up on a lot of music; dope is dope. But nowadays, everybody is at home making music on their little computers…ain’t nobody digging through crates anymore. Ain’t nobody coming up with any new ideas. It’s all the same fucking bullshit. That’s the problem.
Billy: It’s just, how do you mimic a gimmick and think that it’s going to last? If you go to a party and do the same dance for six fucking hours, that means that something is wrong with the music. Artists back in the day would feed off each other. That’s not happening right now…at least to me.
Uptown: How would you two describe the state of New York Hip-hop?
Fame: I feel New York lost its place as being leaders. I mean back in the day, New York word of mouth was the shit for everything. I remember when they had record pools and all the DJ’s would come to New York, it would be New York’s ‘’say-so’’ on whether the shit was hot or not. And aint nothing wrong with folks having their own opinions nowadays, but in my day, New York was the leaders. Like, New York lost its identity. New York doesn’t know what to do right now besides be their fucking selves.
Uptown: Well, with you guys being leaders, are there any new rappers out now that you guys would like to work with?
Fame: (Laughs) It’s a couple cats that I like but I can’t call any off hand.
Billy: I can barely tolerate these motherfuckers.
Fame: Really, there’s a couple of cats that’s finally getting shine that I would work with. Like Royce 5’9… he’s getting shine and I love that. One or two new cat’s I would fuck with.
Billy: I don’t fuck with them new niggas. But, this is how M.O.P. has always felt…it doesn’t matter what era of this industry you come from, if you’re dope, you’re dope. We never chased behind who was selling the most records or who was the most popular because to us, that don’t matter.
Uptown: Are there any artists out there that y’all like in particular?
Fame: You know something? I can like a nigga album, but when I meet him in person, I don’t like ‘em. At the Source awards some years ago, we finally meet Scarface. We love Scarface. Man, this nigga walked up on us singing our shit. I could’ve had a heart attack.
Billy: We love Scarface. He spit’s that real shit. When ‘Face raps, it’s like he’s preaching. I remember a while ago, niggas were talking about who’s the king of the South, blah, blah. Nigga, Scarface is the King of the South; print that. Ain’t nobody down there fucking with Face, man.
Uptown: Wow. I will. Are you two fans of Southern Hip Hop?
Fame: It’s another nigga after Face that I like.
Billy: Mr. Mike?
Fame: Yeah, Mr. Mike. We listen to every fucking thing.
Billy: Big Mike was dope too. Devin The Dude is sick as a motherfucker. Devin’s a beast, man!
Uptown: Really? That’s refreshing to hear. As a fan of Devin the Dude and M.O.P, could we get Devin The Dude to sing a few hooks on your next project?
Billy: We can get him to go back and sing hooks on every other M.O.P album. (Laughs)
Uptown: October 30 marked the nine-year anniversary of Jam Master Jay’s death. With you all being native sons of Brooklyn, do you guys have any fond memories of Jay?
Fame: I remember stealing tokens to go get a pair of Adidas to go see Run DMC movies.
Billy: Damn, how many tokens did you steal, Fame?! (Laughs)
Fame: Back then, it was a pack, so I would get a month’s worth of tokens in a sock and go get some Adidias. I remember that shit clear as day.
Billy: I remember seeing Jay once coming out the diner around the corner from my crib. I was walking in the diner and he was in the back. People were like, ‘’Oh, Billy blah, blah, blah,’’ and I saw him in the back. Folks probably thought I was on some bullshit because I was walking right past people speaking to me… I’m trying to meet Jam Master Jay! I walked up to him and he was just a good, humble dude, but you could tell he was a street dude, too. I know a lot of dudes from his hood and they can vouch on how he was a down ass dude. I never heard about any trouble, though. And as far as the actual murder case, I can’t speak on that because I don’t know what’s going on. But, hats off to Run, D and Russell for bringing him to the light and not just showing him off as a DJ, but how great of a person he was.
Uptown: Your former labelmate Jay-Z, has had his hand in getting Brooklyn a team. Did you to ever think you would live to see another major sports team in Brooklyn?
Billy: Nah, I didn’t think I would get to see another team in Brooklyn. But, where their putting that stadium, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somebody is gonna get the shit robbed out of them. They know they aint got no business fucking around in that ghetto. You can’t put all that money in a place where niggas are starving and not expect shit to pop off. It’s like, you’re gonna come over here and wave your big bag of money around and tell me I can’t have it? Nah, aint gonna happen, B. I hope it works out, but you will not see me attending any games and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.
Uptown: Wait, so we’ll never see M.O.P. wearing any Brooklyn Nets memorabilia?
Billy: We’ll wear hats.
Fame: I’ll wear the shit out of a Brooklyn Nets hat.
Billy: Nine times out of ten, you might see Fame there because that’s his area, but me? Nah, son.
Fame: I agree that it’s a good thing, but you can’t put all of that money in the hood and not expect niggas to snatch it. Don’t expect all that good stuff to happen without any bad, though.
Uptown: In Hip Hop, do you think our community focuses too much on the age of an artist at a certain point?
Fame: I mean, you got Rock and Roll motherfuckers in their 60’s still doing it. It’s all about how good your music is. But, don’t be talking shit about how you on the corner and you’re not.
Billy: As far as age goes, are you talking about the music or the culture? If we’re talking about talent, then age doesn’t matter. It’s dudes that got some age on them that can spit some shit! Praise my man Big Daddy Kane, praise G-Rap, praise Rakim. You find me a mother fucker that’s in the game right now that can out spit anyone of them! If I ever win a lyricist of the year award, I’m breaking that motherfucker in four pieces: ‘’Here’s yours Rakim; Here’s yours Kane; Here’s yours G-Rap; Here’s yours Scarface.” So age doesn’t mean anything; if you’re dope, you’re dope.
Uptown: That’s pretty insightful. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about M.O.P?
Billy: Niggas think we’re animals… straight up. They think that we’re animals, like we can’t have a good conversation or anything: women, dudes, everybody. I actually had a nigga walk up to me and say , ‘’Yo, I didn’t know y’all were this cool. I’ve been wanting to talk to y’all forever but I thought y’all were gonna slap the shit out of me.’’ Like, people really say shit like that.
Fame: Man, we’re just regular niggas. Motherfuckers thinking we ain’t got no self control.
Billy: That’s Fame, man. Fame gotta stop rapping like that. (Laughs) Stop acting like that in public Fame!
Fame: I’ll simmer. (Laughs).
Uptown: Lastly, what can fans of M.O.P. expect for the remainder of 2011, and the beginning of 2012?
Billy: This year we’ve done a lot. We got Sparta in November. Fame’s solo, Fame and the Glory in March. At the end of November, we’re going into the studio to record the next M.O.P album. So by next year you’ll have: Fame and the Glory, Behind Gates — then the next M.O.P. album. That’s not necessarily in that order, but that’s what you can expect from M.O.P. in the soon-to-be future.
Fame: Bottom line is, when there’s a demand for M.O.P, that’s what’s most important. I was recording a solo album and it was more important to do this album [Sparta]. Nothing works without M.O.P, bottom line. You gotta take care of home first, know what I mean?