"Street Certified" is the latest EP from the legendary Brownsville duo M.O.P. (comprised of rapper/producers Billy Danze and Lil' Fame). The EP features guest appearances from Busta Rhymes, Mobb Deep and Maino as well as production from Beat Butcha, DJ Skizz, I Fresh and Lil' Fame himself. It was released on November 18, 2014 via Nature Sounds.
1) Welcome 2 Brooklyn (featuring Maino) - The first song on the EP finds Billy Danze, Lil' Fame and guest Maino rapping about their hometown of Brooklyn, NY over a hype ChuckHeat instrumental. The beat is dope, with the classic "Go Brooklyn" sample from Stetsasonic's "Go Stetsa I" interspersed over a light sample and head nodding drums, and everyone rips it. I'm really feelin' this one. Great way to start off the EP. - 4/5
2) Broad Daylight (featuring Busta Rhymes) - The beat on this joint, courtesy of I Fresh, has a much darker vibe than the first, with an ominous vocal sample layered over hard-hitting drums. Lyrically the song is the usual from M.O.P., with the duo teaming up with Busta Rhymes as all three emcees kick some violent street rhymes. This song is good, but not quite as good as I was hoping given the lineup. - 3/5
3) Hustle - Beat Butcha comes through with a real dope beat on this cut, with an ill piano looped up with some sort of creepy ambient noises over top. As far as the rhyme go, you can tell simply from the title of this song what M.O.P. is going to be rapping about on here. Still, the beat and rhymes are nice and the chorus is pretty catchy as well (which is kind of odd for a M.O.P. song outside of "Ante Up" now that I think about it). - 4/5
4) Shake Em Up - The Jazi Moto beat on this song is probably the most energetic instrumental so far, with a sort of generic, synth-heavy production over slamming drums. Lyrically the song is good, but the beat comes off as bland to me outside of those drums. It's far from terrible, but there are better songs on here. Did I mention those drums though? - 3/5
5) Heistmasters - Billy Danze and Fizzy Womack spit some of their classic robbery rhymes over a darker DJ Skizz production. The beat is nice, with a sinister piano loop over rolling drums, and M.O.P. impress with the rhymes despite the somewhat rehashed subject matter. I like this. - 3.5/5
6) 187 - Ok now this is dope. Lil' Fame comes through with a classic M.O.P. boom-bap instrumental on this track and it's absolute fire. The beat bangs, the rhymes are vintage M.O.P. and DJ Premier even lends a hand with the cuts on the outro. This joint is one of the EP's highlights for me. - 4.5/5
7) Street Certified (featuring Mobb Deep) - This shit is real dope as well, with M.O.P. sharing the mic with The Infamous Mobb Deep over a haunting I Fresh instrumental that sounds like it was taken straight out a horror movie. Mobb Deep are the pioneers of this dark street shit (at least as far as the production goes), but M.O.P. sound right at home over the instrumental as well. Now that I think about it, this might be the first time these two groups have collaborated since I can't think of any other instances off the top of my head. Either way, this is real nice. - 4/5
8) No Shame - The beat on this cut, courtesy of Phatboy, tones down the energy level and darkness of the past few tracks and instead has a bluesy vibe to go along with the storytelling rhymes from both Danze and Fame. The beat isn't quite as good as the others in my opinion, but the subject matter is a nice change from all of the aggression of the other songs. - 3/5
9) American Muscle - The final song on the EP finds M.O.P. wrecking shit over a hard-hitting Free Smith production. The beat will definitely get you hype and both emcees sound great over it. You can always count on M.O.P. to bring that fire. Nice way to close out the EP. - 4/5
I'm going to rate the EP
3.75 / 5
because it's quite good. The production on here is a little hit-or-miss, with a few weaker instrumentals mixed in with the bangers. That's not to say that any of the production is terrible since it's far from it, it's just that a few of the standout tracks are just head and shoulders above some of the other less impressive beats. As far as the rhymes go, M.O.P. are still spitting just like they did back in '94. Their street rhymes are aggressive and hardcore and their deliveries are just as in-your-face and animated as they were 20 years ago. It's great to hear that classic, raw, NY sound slowly making a comeback in the rap game. All in all, the project is another dope release from M.O.P.