M.O.P. were en route to hip-hop's greatest track record. Between 1994 and 2000, they released four classic albums — at two-year intervals — that built the East Coast gangsta-rap foundation for which Kool G Rap had drawn the blueprints. By the time Lil Fame and Billy Danze dropped their epic Warriorz, in 2000, they'd proved themselves capable of composing sizable full-lengths — with or without DJ Premier dominating their production. Then came spoiled deals with G-Unit and Roc-A-Fella, an ill-conceived rap-rock experiment, and countless comps that rang more like haphazardly hacked mixtapes than complete projects.
Still, despite the absence of proper LPs, Brooklyn's hardcore kings never floundered: Fame and Danze have spent the past near-decade firing enough Kevlar-piercing singles to maintain heavy underground adrenaline. Their first official album in nine years, Foundation comes in the wake of said thankless hustle. To call this a comeback would be a misnomer, but M.O.P. fans who prayed for a return to form should cream their jeans at first listen. There are essentially three types of M.O.P. tracks: murder anthems, reclined hood lessons, and accidental club bangers. All three are here represented with a vengeance.
As always, M.O.P. bring foolproof hardcore backdrops that require no effort to admire. Fame handles most of the beats — which include the exemplary "Rude Bastard" and the aggressively didactic "Street Life." Statik Selektah keys up something lovely on "Forever and Always"; original M.O.P. collaborator DR Period re-connects on two flames; and Premier spins some chipmunk soul on "What I Wanna Be." As for lyrics, just consider that no matter how long they've been around, Fame and Danze are still two wild goons from blocks where cats "roundhouse-kick your mom and snatch her beads and the cross." Foundation, indeed.