M.O.P.: Respect The Jux
If perseverance could be scored, M.O.P. long ago secured many Ws. A new album, Foundation, is finally on the way (now dropping September 15 after being pushed back from a June release date) and if Billy has his way, well look forward to solo projects in three month increments thereafter. Theyre still not sure whose will be firstBillys is called Behind Bars, while his rhyme co-d Fames is called The Fame and the Glorybut at this point, anything M.O.P. related will keep fans at least a little bit satiated. That way everyone wins.
HipHopDX: The Foundation, the name implies youre going back to basics, so is that the case?
Billy Danze: A lot of people look at thing differently. Were comfortable with doing things that way that we do things, and our fans are comfortable with us doing it like that. From thing beginning, thats the foundation our shit. And were always going to bring it to them like that.
DX: Right before Warriorz dropped in 2000 the big thing was M.O.P. is on Loud now, more people will get to hear them. But back then yall were like, "Well wait and see what happens." So what went right and what went wrong?
Billy Danze: I liked Loud Records. In my opinion what went right on Loud was we were still able to [leave]. What went wrong, I dont really think anything went wrong. This is business. You look at any company or anybody that can put you in a different position, to keep your shit going is a plus. So I dont think anything went wrong.
Were here right now on the strength of Select, on the strength of Relativity, on the strength of Loud and all the friends that was around us with the Busta Rhymes [click to read] and the Biggies; and the whole music industry, period. The wack niggas, too, because they gave us that, Go out there and show a motherfucker how its really supposed to be done.
DX: Okay, so Loud folds, yall shuttle over to Columbia and then down the road yall sign to Roc-a-Fella. What went right, and what went wrong?
Billy Danze: Nothing went wrong for M.O.P. At Roc-A-Fella it was something internal betweenI dont want to say it, but it is: between Jay [click to read] and Dame [Dash]. It wasnt an M.O.P. situation. I didnt want to deal with Jay without dealing with Dame. And I didnt want to deal with Dame without dealing with Jay. So, now its time to move on.
Its always business as usual. Business with me and [Lil] Fame is different, 'cause its a loyalty, its a family thing before business. This shit could all die tomorrow. I still [am loyal] regardless to where Im at, regardless to where he at, we still gotta feel a certain way about each other. [We] worry about each others safety, and make sure each others good, beyond the business.
DX: Roc-A-Fella situation being what it is, yall move into a new situation with G-Unit.. What went right and what went wrong?
Billy Danze: Nothing went wrong. [Laughing] The main shit is, like I said before, we were given an opportunity to win. G-Unit was a good situation. And every situation we were in, we were in a situation with the top labels at the time. There was no problems with G-Unit. Between us, M.O.P. and G-Unit, we werent able to get the album together and put it out the album at the proper time. They put another album or two before M.O.P. put the album out, that may have hindered the situation a little bit. But its nothing negative.
I look at it just like this. We were given an opportunity. For whatever situations it didnt come out on G-Unit, thats that, thats the past. We aint looking at that no more. We looking at right now and moving forward. Because were in this recession - and Im not talking about financially; Im talking about the dope music recession. Were in a recession. We got a lot of bullshit ass music right now. Im not naming no names. This is the reason we started going, 'cause there was bullshit ass records. Now we just continue to do shit the way we do it because we know our kind of niggas is all the way across the planet. So we just keep going.
DX: You mentioned the wack music out here. How does it make you feel when fans think there hasnt been anything good to drop in a while and go, Wait, M.O.P. is way past due for an album?
Billy Danze: Its cool because if you look at it from a business point of view, monetarily, Im good. The crib is nice, my nigga. [Laughs]
DX: With that in mind, its been nine years since a proper M.O.P. album, how have yall kept food on the table?
Billy Danze: Were a group thats been dope enough 'cause you know you get the one-hit wonders. Weve had a shitload of records. Weve did records with everybody - any up-and-coming artist would dream about doing records with, dead or alive. Just knowing where we came from, as far as putting out good records out and just being over the top with the shit. Not just average dope, ridiculously dope. And the stage show is always incredible, I dont give a fuck how drunk I am. We give people what they want man. This is entertainment. You know what, I dont need you to be on my dick. I need you to enjoy what I do, because Im doing it for you.
I cater to the caliber of motherfuckers that would never die. When I say that, I mean like; my fathers father hung out in the street. My father hung out in the street. My older brothers hung out in the street. I hung out in the street. And some kind of way, if I could figure out for my kids not to hang out in the street, hopefully that would happen, but the street will still be there.
Of course weve been criticized a lot about the type of music that we make. Its too street, its too hood or whatever-whatever. [The] bottom line is the streets dont go nowhere. You get a lot of artist that share fans; we dont share fans. We got those caliber of niggas that we fuck with, and we cater to them. Its ghetto education. If youre from the bottom, you can get it. If youre not from the bottom, its interesting to you. Thats the reason we can continue to go on: because the streets will never die. The new generation comes and we cater to that because thats what we know.
DX: But you are a family man, living in an undisclosed location upstate in a nice crib. Do you miss your days running the streets? Especially since not many people make it out.
Billy Danze: Right, and that was a blessing. Real story, real quick: The way I actually got into the business I was actually standing on the corner ready to do a robbery. And Fame was like, Yo, come on, come on. I asked you two weeks ago to do a record with me. Im like "Alright, but I see this motherfucker up the block. I been watching this motherfucker for like three or four blocks. I know he got a couple of grand on him." Long story short, I bypass that, and went with Fame to the studio. It worked out pretty good.
I dont miss it at all because, I aint no hoe-ass nigga, my nigga, but Im grown and Im official with my shit. I lay it out. Theres never been a day or afraid of or dying or going to jail for the rest of my life. The truth is once you get to a certain point in the street, you will realize that there is now way to win. So I dont miss that shit at all.
And Im still in the bottom. Youll see Bill, I be in the projects of Coney Island, the projects in Brownsville, the projects in Queens, the projects in Harlem; Im on the block. I dont miss it because I know what was at stake. My life was at stake and the future of my kids was at stake. I dont miss that shit at all. And I still got it with me, so if a nigga get out of pocket Of course, I think a little more now.
DX: When you look at the Hip-Hop landscape, how many of these supposedly gangsta emcees out here were really getting it in. You think you could put a number on it?
Billy Danze: Thats hard to determine because you dont know. I know niggas that make girlie music thats gangsta-the-fuck-down. And then I know niggas that make gangsta music that aint all the way there. Its too obvious. Youll never make music as hard as me, but youre making music in my lane, but youre not that hard.
Besides, the situations that go on today is not what we had to deal with it. Now these niggas is snitching, all this bullshit. With the artists today, this shit is just entertainment to them. It was entertainment to us, but we was coming right off the block. Our entertainment to people was, "Let me show you how it is in my world." [I'm] not saying it was positive, but it wasnt negative because the dudes where we come from they had to understand that its another way out.
DX: What about these solo projects you got coming down the pipeline?
Billy Danze: My solo project is called Behind Gates. Its pretty much self-explanatory. Behind Gates [is] for my people in prison. The people now in our world now, at the bottom, that feel that they cant get out. Theyre stuck behind the gate. And myself being in this dope ass area that no other fucking artist can come into; Im stuck behind this gate.
DX: Is your album going to be an extension of an M.O.P. record or are you going to try different things?
Billy Danze: What Im doing with it is youve never heard me on a record with another artist outside of Fame. Im bringing others artists in and Im doing music [from a] different angle just to try to touch some of the kids that are probably not used to the M.O.P. shit because its been eight, nine years and some kids dont really get who I am. Im doing the M.O.P. to the right, and Im doing M.O.P. shit to the left, its always going to be M.O.P.
Im covering a lot of ground with it. I got a joint with Busta, the Undescribable" joint, I think you guys put it up. The Gangsta joint, traditional M.O.P. shit. Return of the Marxmen [click to listen], traditional M.O.P. shit. So Im just spreading it out and trying to touch people I aint going to say M.O.P. was able to touch but people that wasnt at that level that can grasp for M.O.P.. Were going to wait for the M.O.P. album, then every few months we dropping. So the next three months either Behind Gates or The Fame And The Glory, and were going to keep going, every three months.