411 Music interview: M.O.P.
Posted by Bill Wannop on 11.16.2011
Join us for an exclusive interview with rap veterans M.O.P., where they talk about their new album Sparta, working with the Snowgoons, giving back to their fans, helping unsigned artists as well as their upcoming releases for 2012!
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M.O.P. has long been regarded as a group that holds nothing back with their raw, hard hitting beats, rhymes and energy. Since they released their debut album in 1994, the group has consistently put out hard hitting album after hard hitting album. Prepping the release of their latest album Sparta which is entirely produced by the Snowgoons, we had the chance to speak wtih Billy Danze of the group regarding the new album, working with different producers, giving back to their fans, helping unsigned artists as well as their upcoming releases for 2012!
Your new album Sparta is completely produced by the Snowgoons, and is being released on November 22, 2011. Tell us a bit about the album.
Billy Danze: Ahh man, its MOP music, it's a lot of energy, great concepts, incredible lyrics and that's what we always bring to an MOP record anyway but, on top of that we have Snowgoons production which is ridiculous, maybe a lot of people in America have never heard of the Snowgoons, but when i say they are crazy, they are crazy. Their music is sick, like dumb, ridiculous (laughing). So we had a good time putting this record together with them man.
How did the album collaboration come together? Did you make a couple songs and just realize you had great chemistry together?
Billy Danze: No, you know what Snowgoons is really big everywhere else in the world outside of America, and we travel, MOP is really big everywhere outside of America, so we do a lot of traveling and we cross their paths a lot. We always loved their stuff, but we never got a chance to do anything with them. So the people over here at the label who I think they have a deal with Snowgoons, in that they have done a lot of work with Snowgoons. They called me and asked me if I would be interested in doing a project with them. Just from knowing their track record, I was like hell ya, let's go, Those dudes sent us like 100 tracks dude...The hardest thing about doing this record was picking from all those tracks, cause all the tracks was fire, you know, because as an artist once you get a good track, its easy to write, its easy to do a song to it, because the beat always tells you what to do anyways. But out of 100 I had to pick 10, it was the hardest thing i ever had to do in my life (laughing).
What to you stood out about the Snowgoons the most?
Billy Danze:You know they have this whole theatrical thing, its almost like a movie, if you listen to about 10, 15 Snowgoons tracks in a row it will seem like a movie score, you know what I'm saying? What really stood out for me though is that they are what a production crew is supposed to be, when I say that I mean every producer really wants to have a signature sound and my opinion if you are a producer, why would you want to have a signature sound? Wouldn't you want to be able to move things around and sound different as a producer you want to create; you don't want to have a signature sound in my opinion. That's what I think about the Snowgoons, they gave us raw hip hop, they gave us club music, they gave us slow tempo joints, mid tempo joints, fast tempo joints, street music, they got everything, theatrical music, they got everything and I think that is what a production crew is supposed to have, so that was a draw for me.
How did you come up with the name Sparta for the album
Billy Danze:The name of the album came from basically our life and how we grew up. It was always MOP against the world in our eyes. Even when we were on the block before we rapped, there was St. Marx and there was the world, there was Brownsville and there was the world, you know? We always had to fight to get positions, to get to the positions that we felt like we deserved so even now, even though we have still been around longer then anyone else has ever been around, we still fighting to get positions, so we basically fought, so I felt it was very appropriate to name this album Sparta.
How different was it working with one producer group rather than multiple producers for this album?
Billy Danze:Well it would have been extremely different, if the Snowgoons wasn't talented enough to give you different sounds (laughing). Whatever the beat tell you to do its easy, even though some producers want to have a signature sound, they still have to change tempos, they still have to change baselines, they still have to add or maybe not add chords, so its really no different at all in my opinion, unless they are making the same exact beat over and over again, which will make it a bit difficult. But MOP is so talented, we will turn it into 10 different songs, it doesn't make a difference because we are bad like that, ya heard!
Are you guys shooting any videos for the album?
Billy Danze:Ya we about to let "Get Yours" go and I believe we are going to shoot "Sparta" and another joint called "Opium", the plan is to shoot a video for every record. We want to put everybody involved with what we do, it never works without the fans and without you putting things out in the media for us, it don't work without the producers it don't work without other artists inspiring to be you and to give them inspiration, everybody helps this move, so we want to keep everybody involved, so we are allowing directors to actually send us some of the stuff that they did, so we can see if we like it so we can get them to shot one of the videos.
You have had many issues with labels in the past. Why do you think the fans have stuck with you for all these years?
Billy Danze:You know what? I think for the most part the fans really like hands on kind of artist, they like to know that I actually take the garbage out like everybody else, I actually go to the store like everybody else, and when I get off the stage after an incredible performance, I get down and hang out with the audience, I'm not whisked away like Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson (laughing). They like that we are grounded people, we are real people and we show them the love and respect. They show the love and we show it back. Without the fans, where would we be without it? We can make music all day and pass it around from corner to corner, but it isn't going off, you know?
You started your career in the early 90's. How have you managed to maintain such longevity in hip hop?
Billy Danze:Just that, again being straight up with the fans and doing it in a way no one else has done it before. I mean we do it with so much passion. People that don't even like MOP, be like ‘man, they yell too much', we ain't yelling (laughing), that's just passion pouring out, it's not oozing out its pouring, we are pouring it out. People like that, people like that we are doing it from the pit of our stomach. People don't want to…. nowadays you go to a show and the young artists are actually rapping like we are actually supposed to be on their dick, why am I supposed to be on your dick, when you ain't doing nothing special? You ain't doing nothing special and you want to show me that you appreciate me being here by staring at my face making me holla ‘come say ya!' alright, you say ya! I paid $30 to get in here, and I gotta say ya too? (laughing) Get outta here…Drinks cost $20 a piece, I paid $30 to get in here and I got this broad over here that wants everything she sees, and I got to yell ya (laughing)? Get outta here.
You are probably best known for you track "Ante Up", which is a high energy, hard track. Do you think that sometimes you get painted into a corner due to that song (thinking you can only do one style of music)?
Billy Danze: Of course. That's exactly what they do. But I don't think that I am that mad about it, because it's my lane and it's what I do. I don't do what other artists do, what I do is different, can't nobody do it the way we do it anyway, and people go ‘that's what they do', so when we have a certain kind of show going on we can call MOP. It don't matter because, I cater to the people, to that part of society that people try to forget about and that part of society is everywhere in the world. So anywhere you go, any country you go to there is a hood, there is a ghetto, there is a gangsta. I think this is going to happen forever because, my grandfather hung out in the hood, my father hung out in the hood, my older brother hung out in the hood, I hung out in the hood, my little nephew hung out in the hood, it's just an ongoing thing. It's sad, but as long as I cater to them, I always am going have an audience.
What else is MOP currently working on?
Billy Danze:Dude we got a ton of things coming right behind this. I think at the end of this month we are going to finish the official MOP album, which we were working on before we started doing this. Also my solo album, which is called Behind Gates, Fame's solo album which is called The Fame and the Glory, the website I don't know if you have heard about it, webuildhits.com, where we actually let unsigned artists come to the site and download tracks from multi-platinum Grammy winning producers like Pete Rock, Heatmakers, Lil Fame, and they work with the unsigned artists to help them get in the game. It's basically like we cheating because once we create the record, I can take that record anywhere and be like this is that new joint Pete Rock produced, all the unsigned artists got to do is come in and do what they do so well, that nobody knows about.
Are all those projects going to be released in 2012?
Billy Danze:2012, we going hard. Right after the Sparta album we are going to release the next MOP album or maybe one of the solos, or Fame has another project, that he planning on putting out that he did with Terminology called Physiology that is a good record. We got a lot of good things coming out so this year we are going to flood the airwaves and flood all over the internet, we still got a lot to offer to the game.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Billy Danze:I just want to make people understand that Sparta is definitely it. If you want to hear good hip hop music, good music with a lot of effort into it, we put a lot of effort into out music so we want to appreciate everybody that came aboard as a fan or as a business partner that helped MOP get to that next level to keep the legacy going. I also want to really stress that all the unsigned artists out there really need to check out webuildhits.com not only because we work with the producers but there is also a chat box, there is a whole forum where you can speak to other artists, link up with them to help get your music out. You can also post all your music, post all your videos, just go up there and do what you want to do. It's a place where we also have a radio station where we cater to the unsigned artists, we also have a video show where we play all unsigned artists videos and you can also be a part of the video show, get up on skype and do a few drops for your video or whatever. It's about helping each other out, so that what we are trying to get people to see, if you come to webuildhits.com we got something for you.
For more information on M.O.P. or to order their new album Sparta visit the official M.O.P. website or if you are an unsigned artist head over to We Build Hits to get the ball rolling.