M.O.P.'s Five Favorite Collaborations

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If you don't like M.O.P., you probably don't really like rap music—or so the cliché goes. But there's something in the sentiment: For nearly two decades now, Billy Danze and Lil Fame have been putting out passionate, uncompromising rap music that's rooted in a resolutely east cost aesthetic. Fame was even moved to mandate, "When I die, make sure you bury me with a cassette of [Eric B & Rakim's] Paid In Full."

The duo, originally based in Brownsville, has worked with a who's who of New York hip-hop heavy hitters; they even endured stints signed to Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella Records and 50 Cent's G-Unit movement. Now they've hooked up with European production unit The Snowgoons for the full-length project Sparta. To tie-in with its release, we asked Billy and Fame to reminisce over their favorite collaborations from the vault.

Jay-Z, "4 Alarm Blaze"

Lil Fame: "At first, '4 Alarm Blaze' was just three of us on it [Teflon also features on the song]. Back in the days, D&D Studios was just a hang out, like that's where Guru always was. So most of the artists that worked with DJ Premier and the D&D camp would be up in D&D; all types of dudes walked in there. Jay would come through there a lot and one day he was like, 'It's "4 Alarm Blaze" but there's only three people on the fuckin' song! Let me get a verse on it.'"

Billy Danze: "Jay-Z actually went as hard as he could to get on the track. I don't want to say beg, but he kinda made it clear how much he really wanted to be on the track. The track was already closed and playing on the radio and everything, but he was really heart-set on getting on that record."

Lil Fame: "We gave Jay the invite and he left the studio and rode around the block a couple of times in his car. Half an hour later, he came back with his rhyme and laid it down."

Kool G Rap, "Stick To Ya Gunz"

Lil Fame: "That's one of my favorites, man. Just growing up in junior high, G Rap was kinda like the underdog, but one of the best from the Juice Crew. I'm a Juice Crew fanatic. Just meeting G Rap knowing who he was and him knowing who I was, like before I walk up to him he's got his hand out to shake it, to reach and give me a pound... I was like, 'Damn!' It's always a good thing to meet the artists that you love growing up and see their attitude is good or better than you imagine. He's like an older brother for me."

Billy Danze: "We stayed in the studio with G Rap for two or three days. Everything was created right there; Premier came and created the beat right in front of our face, and G Rap wrote his verse right there. It was amazing. When the bell rang they were like, 'Who is it?' 'G Rap.' I went right immediately and left the studio and met him at the elevator. That man is amazing to us."

Lil Fame: "In the studio, G Rap is just a wizard. He goes inside—he writes quick. He told me the key to writing a rhyme is just having the beginning—just something to start—and then he goes all in. And you can tell he's smart. He works quick and he's just racing, you know what I mean?"

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