October 26, 2016

Mop-04-mika
The ’87 Stick Up Kid. Admired by the homie running the crack spot. Nine-hundred and ninety-nine thou short of a mill. He rode a tank through Brownsville. SALUTE! Something he loves is when thugs bump his shit. Is this hip hop? HELL NO THIS IS WAR! A shootout is like a common cold around here. To him, the most beautifullest thing in this world is a 4-4 desert eagle. You lost your mind if you thought he tossed his iron. The industry don’t understand—he’s a whole different breed of man. International bell ringer ruckus bringer. Exercising his index finger.

Billy Danze has blown subs and tweeters for two decades with his best friend Lil’ Fame as Mash Out Posse. His voice has spiked millions of resting heart rates since the duo’s debut in 1994. His publishing for “Ante Up” finds new venues for exploitation every year, from The Mindy Project to Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He has outlasted damn near every label that paid for an M.O.P. album (Select, Relativity, Loud, Roc-A-Fella, G-Unit, Koch), and now he’s ready for a new chapter as a solo artist and label head for We Build Hits Record Company.

After false starts over the years, which yielded jaw shattering leaks like “Savages” from an aborted solo album in 2011, the First Family fire breather is now a family man. The focus is now bigger than Brownsville—his latest single “6 O’Clock Briefing” is an open letter to the Obama administration with more restraint for the stress on his mind than in past lives when he shouted, “FUCK YOU YOUR HONOR, CHECK MY PERSONA!” Danze is still rugged neva smooth. But you can’t be on the firing squad forever. Danze loves Jahiem and NWA, the O’Jays and Run-DMC. He loves his kids and his best friends. He values money over friendship. He wants to provide opportunities for new artists. And he’ll let Budweiser license a song about kidnapping fools. —Zilla Rocca


You just dropped a video for “6 O’ Clock Briefing” and I think it’s really fascinating because we’re living in the strangest time in American history where we have someone leaving the White House that most people don’t want to be critical of, and potentially two people coming in that either people really hate, or aren’t excited about. And you threw your hat in the ring to give some perspective. So tell me about the idea behind the song and the video because I don’t wanna put words in your mouth, but I feel like it’s the first real political statement you’ve made.


Billy Danze: I believe it is but, you can call it political and anyone else can call it political but for me it’s not political. Not that I don’t care about foreign policies or school systems or anything like that, my thought was—when I recorded the record just before I shot the video, I had just got wind that T.I. had just released a record like that too. A lot of guys are doing these records but I notice in these records they’re doing these verses about, you know the people who have been shot and killed by police officers which is really good that people are using their platform to get that out there. Everybody’s done this where they’re talking about the police shootings and all of this and this is a conversation that we’ve had with each other.

I could go downstairs and talk to my son about it or get on the phone and talk to Penny about it. So everybody’s having this conversation, so that’s not really new. What needs to happen is, in my head, I just wanted to say something to Barack Obama. I don’t know if people were scared to address him and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to him at all because I know he did the best that he could with what he had; he’s the president. He’s just a face he’s not the actual shot caller. I just want to know, in this house that slaves built, that you’re sitting in, that you’re basically overseeing the country, how do you see everything and not see what’s happening to our people? I didn’t wanna really say “you” as a black man because it doesn’t matter if you’re black or you’re white. White officers just killing random white people, there would still be a problem in my eyes.

Are you sitting there not seeing nothing? You gotta see something. And then say something, don’t just address it as, you know “My condolences” and “Me and Michelle feel like” and then move on to foreign policy. This is really a problem in our community and our country so I figured I would say it directly to him and it’s not political at all. I shot the video the way I shot it because I’m talking directly to the president. If it was any other person, I was talking to I would be straight street clothes and just having this conversation but it’s not me I didn’t intend for anybody to bop their head or none of that shit. I just wanted to say it to him and for people to understand how I feel about the issues in our country.


I’ve seen lately on Twitter and Instagram that you’re finishing up your new record now, is that going to be the new direction you’re taking it?


Billy Danze: “6 O’ Clock Briefing” was actually the second record I put out. The first record is called “Barclays Music.” I can’t do nothing but me anyway, I’m still gonna do the record the way I’ve always done them just with 2016 and beyond, feel? So it’s not, my record’s not—I’m a human being dog, people have M.O.P. all made out to be animals. Yeah we did all the stupid things that every other urban kid has done. At this point in my life and being a grown man I don’t feel like I have to do that. I don’t feel like I have to tell nobody I know how to rap because I’ve already proven that. I don’t feel like I have to prove to people that I can be a tough guy if I need to be, I don’t need to do all of that. I just want to make good music and at this point this is where I’m at right now. I got great, great records on this album, I’m about to start pulling in the features and everything and get it all wrapped up and get it out to the people.


I just turned 34 and I’ve been a fan of you guys since I was probably 15. To the Death and Firing Squad that’s what pulled me in. So you guys were always the only rappers as I got older I was still actively afraid of.


Billy Danze: [Laughs].


I was like, “Oh most of those dudes are kind of actors and that was a lie or that was a gimmick and that was something they found out from their neighborhood” but M.O.P. I believe 100% of what they say. So when I saw “6 O’ Clock Briefing” I was like, now you’re past the point of proving all your credentials and everyone knows who M.O.P. is but it’s more of a human standpoint, like, wait a second this needs to be brought to life as well. And so when you talk about 2016 and you guys are lifetime New Yorkers, how does it feel for you now in a surreal reality where Donald Trump potentially will be the next president? You guys have probably dealt with him in some form or fashion over the last 30-40 years since he’s been famous in New York, so what’s it like as a native New Yorker?


Billy Danze: The way I look at it now is it’s not even about just New York. Donald Trump himself, he don’t have the ability to be a president of a country. He can’t run a country. He can run a hotel and he can run a business and do a reality show that’s different, that’s what he is, but running a country is totally different. You can’t wake up one day mad and decide that you don’t want to talk to somebody because Iran is doing something or whatever. This is why people don’t get into politics: it’s too much for the average person. It’s hard enough to run your household with your kids and your wife and your dog and all of this shit, how are you gonna run an entire country? You see that he has these conversations with Hillary like talks about her and calling her pig and what kind of shit is that? You mean to tell ’em you’re gonna go have a conversation with Putin over in Russia and you’re gonna get mad about something you’re gonna insult his man, insult his wife and tell him to screw him?

You’re gonna get everybody fucking killed! What are you doing? He’s not equipped for that. I’m from Brooklyn. I am a New Yorker, but I’m an American and I live in this country. I have children. This is something that, when you grow up in America as kids we don’t think about none of this shit. Even as adults in the urban sections of Philadelphia, they don’t give a fuck about none of that. In Brownsville, Brooklyn we don’t care about none of that. But now it’s to the point we realizing, wait this motherfucker can get us all nuked and then what happens to our kid’s kids? We gotta really pay attention to this guy, man. Anything political, when it comes to your community or your country, we’re here.

The crazy thing is, we always thought that when we go to Paris or anywhere in France or anywhere in the UK or any country, they accept us because we’re the entertainers and they love that, but we also know that it appears that they don’t like Americans. And why don’t they like Americans? Because I haven’t made any kind of policies or signed off on any—so why you don’t like me? They sit outside of America and they can see what the fuck’s going on here. We see what’s going on in Beirut and all these other countries because we see it on the news and it looks crazy and weird but that’s what’s normal to them and to them it looks crazy and weird but it’s normal to us.


He might wake up and someone might say something to him on Twitter and then he wants to arm the Navy to go invade—it’s silly that we’re even discussing this.


Billy Danze: It’s not really silly. He’s the kind of guy, and I hate to say this because I don’t wish this on anybody and I don’t wanna make it sound like I’m just being a wild kid from Brownsville but, he may get the JFK effect.


Damn. It’s kind of a great time for angry rap music to stomp forward again because we’re at a time even like T.I. or a couple years back when Run The Jewels they popped off with their second album it feels like smart, socially-aware, aggressive rap. It could really connect with people again like it did in the early ’90s when it was Cube and Public Enemy and N.W.A. and those guys. For you guys and M.O.P. there’s a lot I want to pick your brain about.


Billy Danze: Come on.


Okay here we go. “Ante Up” is clearly the biggest song, however, the question I want to ask about “Ante Up” is what is the weirdest request you’ve got to license it? Because I’ve seen that song in weird commercials that I wouldn’t associate with “Ante Up” or M.O.P. like HGTV home renovation and there’s “Ante Up” in the background. So has there been a really weird request where you’re like, I don’t know man.


Billy Danze: Every request for this record is weird especially when it’s coming from corporate. It’s a saying that we got from my mother, every time someone comes through the door she’s like, ‘Where it’s at? Ante up.’ Just the fact that we took it from the street corner—there was two meaning to the record. It was ante up, we’ve been in this game too long you guys see how we demolish the stage, how we make short work of the main major artists when we get on their records and you still won’t give us the props and the recognition that we deserve.

The other side was kind of where we came from. We need money, ante up take that off take your shirt, but nobody knows the first part of it. They only see the second part of it where it’s like take this off take that off. So the song in everyone’s head is only about robbing people. So when Budweiser calls or some, in the movies it’s cool because they can put it anywhere it’s kind of an exciting song, but when it comes from corporate like Budweiser or something like that, I’m going “Do you guys not understand?”


Yeah that’s what I’m thinking. This song is pro-robbery and yet you wanna place it where anyone from grandma to a 6-year-old can be catching it for 30 seconds.


Billy Danze: Yeah and on top of it they only want what moves the people, they don’t care what it does. Putting glue in the fucking meat that’s being sold at McDonald’s. They don’t give a shit; people are going to buy it. That glue tastes good and adds to the spice of the fucking, you know what I’m saying? They don’t care. Every request is strange for that record. If they’re looking at it like my mom says it. ‘Ante Up, we want the money.’


That’s great man. I remember hearing a story about you guys years ago and I wasn’t sure if it was true or if I made it up in a dream but the story behind “Cold As Ice” was that you guys were walking in the rain and one of you guys saw a pile of records in the trash and one of them was the Foreigner record, that’s a real story?


Billy Danze: Yep we were coming out of the record label and, right in Manhattan, somebody had thrown some records in the garbage and it was raining, pouring down rain. I think Fame or Laze grabbed them and was like, let’s see what we got here and just let them dry out for a couple days and then Fame started going through them and he put that track together. That track is one of M.O.P.’s biggest record today and they still won’t let the song die.


You built “Cold As Ice” literally from the gutter. You found that song in the gutter. I’m glad that’s verified. Even when you were kids to now, do you ever purposely go in the studio and say ‘I’m gonna make the best gym music ever’? Because you have.


Billy Danze: Fame’s more of an artist than I am. But we’re not really rappers. We had to make everything ourselves, do everything ourselves so we go in the studio with the intentions of letting the magic work. Whatever beat we find, we let the magic work. We never go, ‘You know what? I’m gonna make this second so cats like Sway and Funk Flex can play it on the radio.’ Or, ‘I’m gonna make this record so cats like Sway and Funk Flex can’t play it on the radio.’ We just go, let’s see what we can come up with.

Our formula is really simple we’ve been doing it for so long now it’s kind go like we know what we wanna do as far as when we say direction of the record we don’t mean aiming towards any audience but the way we want the record to feel. So if we got the beat and we go in the studio this record got to feel up, this record got to feel emotional, this record got to feel touching or whatever. But we never actually aim a record. I don’t think as an artist you should do that because you never know what you can come up with. I liked “Cold As Ice” better than I did “Ante Up” and I wasn’t crazy about either one of them.


What did you think was going to be the smash of Warriorz?


Billy Danze: Was “Foundation” on Warriorz? I think “Foundation” because I’m more of one of those types of dudes, I just wanna talk about my problems so I wanted to one day in the same kind of formula that happened with “6 O’ Clock Briefing.” Just one day I got up and I thought about my father. I got me something to eat and I got a small bottle of Remy Martin and I sat at the bar of my house and I sat there and I wrote this record. That verse and hook took me literally 45 minutes to write. Because once I started, I’m talking about my father so this is easy now. I’m talking about how I watched him drink and smoke and I watched him thinking. Maybe he couldn’t see it and maybe I couldn’t even see it at the time but when I thought back, I watched all of this happen.

I was able to see what changed him really easily. Same with “6 O’ Clock Briefing” this is my actual feelings. My kid came, he’s 2 years old, and he came in the room and I got this touchscreen computer and I have this beat sitting up there and I haven’t even pressed play on it and he just climbs up in the chair and pressed play and then he jumped out the chair because it scared the hell out of him and then I’m listening to these horns blaring and I just sat right in the chair and let the beat play and I’m watching my kid play around, and I’m going, this is what it’s telling me. I need to address something to the president. I just let the music do whatever it makes you do.


And out of the group are you the faster writer or do both of you guys write quickly or slow?


Billy Danze: It depends on the mood that we’re in because we’re human beings first, right? So Fame could be extra excited about something and already have it ready to go and want me to come in and get it done and I’m like man I’m not, today I’m just thinking about going to the shooting range or something. Something in my head that’s preventing me from writing right then but when we’re in the studio we can literally, we feed off each other. Really it’s more about I wanna impress Fame. Anytime he got an idea I’m on it as quick as I can, but being a human being I’ll be like, ‘Shit dude I got something else on my head today. I’ll get to it tomorrow.’


How do you approach solo vs. in a group? Because when you’re in a group you have half the load. A 16 and an 8 come up with half a hook and you’re done, whereas solo it’s like 3 full verses, all the hooks, mapping out all the concepts. It’s just more of a drag when you’re used to doing it with your friends so what’s it like for you?


Billy Danze: Yeah it’s scary as shit Imma be honest. Really it’s exciting because I get to just do all my ideas. Now, just because it’s a solo record though doesn’t mean that I have the final say because if Fame doesn’t approve of a record then I won’t use it. Again, I gotta impress him, right? I have to impress him because that’s how I feel. Like, that’s my brother so doing it solo is not as, for me, it’s not as fun as it would be for Nas because Nas, that’s what he’s been doing. I’m adapting pretty well, just listen to the records that I’ve come up with, and I’ve also, years ago, I started doing solo records and kind of leaking them too.


Yeah I was gonna ask you about that too because they would pop up like “Savage” with Busta and stuff, so I was kind of seeing if they were gonna be pulled in for this or that was just you trying to talk some loosies out.


Billy Danze: Well that was actually my first attempt. I said, ‘You know what Imma do a solo record.’ Then I did a couple joints but to me, everybody liked the records and I was really happy with the records but I just didn’t feel the way I should’ve felt about the whole thing. So I was like, lemme just pull back, got back into another M.O.P. album but now it’s like, before I even decided I was going to go with the solo project I had already written 5 or 6 songs. Those are done so now I just gotta grab the features and maybe 2 or 3 solo joints. Some throwaway joints, but it’s scary as shit dude don’t let nobody tell you that come from a group and be like, ‘Nah it’s nothing.’


I’ve been rhyming since ’98 but I was always in groups because that was the thing: you’d hang with your friends and you would rap with them and rap with them and I was having a falling out with a lot of the guys and maybe 7-8 years ago I had to make solos and I was like ‘Man this blows.’ I wanna hang out, I wanna get drunk, I wanna bounce ideas. Someone tell me this is whack or this is good or, ‘no, no, no wait a second try this.’ And like you said, if I can do a few of these and get the ball rolling, but ultimately it’s the camaraderie part. And the weird part about rap now is there’s almost no groups at all. It doesn’t make sense if you’re 20 years old to split money 2-3 ways with somebody because there’s not really a lot of money unless you’re doing a ton of shows and get merch. So how do you look at yourself historically? Those songs mean something to people, M.O.P. means something. Even your ad-libs. I don’t think you guys get enough credit for your ad-libs, your gun shot sounds and the yelling and screaming. A million people have just taken the acapella track from “G Building” or “Ante Up” and put them all over their beats, like made hooks and I feel like you guys kind of paved the way for Jeezy or Jim Jones or Master P just from your ad-libs. Does that ever occur to you, how legendary you guys are but no one talks about it?


Billy Danze: Nah, I’m glad you said that. I think the legendary part, I’m cool with that, I get that, and I appreciate that and I do feel the same thing unless I’m in the room with Rakim and Scarface and G Rap I don’t feel so legendary, I feel like the little boy in the room. But, the fact that no one talks about it, something that now is starting to not get to me but is starting to come past my head every now and then. I’m actually going to put out a tweet about that today. I just don’t want to feel like I’m whining about something. Really, if you ever see me anywhere, I’m not, like I have a bunch of jewelry and a house and nice cars and all that, but I’m not the one that’s make sure I put my car in the video, make sure I put all this jewelry on when I go outside.

I wear all dark clothes, I’m not flashy. For somebody to mention it, it really doesn’t even matter to me because I know, you know what it is. People wanna say things but they don’t say them. When I never heard my records on the radio but I can pull up at the light to the actual DJ who was playing it on the radio and he’s blasting my songs out his car but he never put it on the radio. I’ll just look at him and smile. He goes, ‘Oh damn. Now I’m about to get shot.’ Nah, we ain’t doing none of that I just want you to know I see what’s happening.


I’ve just kind of noticed like the ad-lib stuff like man, no one even says like, ‘Yo M.O.P. is the reason why my ad-libs are crazy.’


Billy Danze: You know what, Waka Flocka said it to me one time. I don’t know if he even realized that, like I knew his family before he was born. His family knows my family from when I was a little kid. His uncles are like my big brother’s. We were at Summer Jam one year. We got up I don’t know who it was. He was like ‘Aw man, wassup? Yo, y’all the reason why I do my shit the way I do it. These boys don’t know y’all originated it.’ I was like alright, cool. I appreciated that when he said it but I’ve never heard it from anywhere else. But I’m definitely going to be putting that tweet out today.


Yeah do that because everyone owes you. Everyone, even people making gunshot sound effect ad-libs I can’t remember anyone before you guys doing that. That’s your thing.


Billy Danze: You know what I was thinking about too? The word ‘salute’ in hip hop. No one ever used the word ‘salute’ in hip hop before we used it.


I saw you guys tweeting about getting beat submissions, these are for you or for Fame or as a duo? I don’t know how you go through the process of picking beats because you have him and DR. Period and Laze-E-Laz and Premier.


Billy Danze: I also got Doc Ish, he’s won Grammies with Eminem. I got Pete Rock, I got Statik Selektah, I got 300 producers that I’m in contact with frequently. I got everything I need but what I did was, I figured because I have all of them and they’ve worked with so many big people, somebody else needs to have a chance too. So I figured just talking to a few of them like, ya know leave a slot open for any up and coming producer. It could be any producer anywhere in the world, if the beat works the beat works. I’ll use it and I’ll put it on my project and it’s more than likely that I get to choose the beat, If I choose the right beat and it’s a song that we can possibly use for a single then we’re gonna try and do that, maybe bring in some sponsors or whatever we can do to and try to get a video shot and fly the guy over and have him come and be in the video and everything.

I realize if we don’t let new blood into this business than it’s gonna die. Like everybody goes ‘I don’t know about this new stuff.’ Really dude? If hip hop would have stayed on Sedgwick, where it was created, then we would have nothing. There’s guys in Philly now and they’re driving around in pretty cars and guys in Brooklyn that made millions and millions of dollars. Fucking, Dr. Dre can get a billion-dollar deal for the headphones. If hip hop would’ve stayed the way it was right there in the Bronx, none of this would’ve been possible. So I think we need to bring new people in. We shouldn’t say what’s whack or what’s good. Your opinion is your opinion so if you like traditional hip hop then you go listen to it and you go buy traditional hip hop. If you like this new wave of music then you listen to and you buy that.


Was that kind of the inspiration for We Build Hits? You wanted to start putting that out there rather than be like, ‘no I just do me and I’m from my era and that’s that.’


Billy Danze: Yeah exactly. We Build Hits, exactly what it is. We build hits regardless of if it’s god damn gospel, opera, R&B, hip hop, trap, whatever it is that’s what we got. You gotta pay attention to some of the other artists that we have on We Build Hits. No one sounds like M.O.P., no one sounds like Billy Danze. What would I do? Go and grab a whole bunch of guys that sound like me? That doesn’t make sense. It’s the difference between a record label and a record company. A label is labeled for that style of music like you had G-Unit with the gangster rap, you had Death Row with the gangster rap, Rocafella with kind of flamboyant rap and the problem is, and everyone sounds change on the label right?

The problem is once that sound sizzles out then the whole label goes away. So at a company like We Build Hits, which is like a baby Sony in my head, we’re gonna put it all out there. Sony ain’t gonna never die because Sony will take a M.O.P., they’ll take a Chief Keef, they’ll take a Drake, they’ll take a Taleb Kweli, so you know what I’m saying they got all different sounds of music and so the company will never die so they’ll just keep going.


Right and their name is Sony so they’re not really connected with anything. You just think of the artists; you’re not like, ‘Anything Sony drops I’m all over it.’ Whereas when you guys were on Loud records, that at the time was my favorite label, where I was like anything they touch I have to own it. From The Alkaholiks to Xzibit to you guys to Wu, Pun, anybody I was just grabbing it and then once they switched their format I was like, “Ugh.” You guys went to Rocafella and all that. But I want to ask you about a very specific moment in time then, you’ve probably talked about it so I apologize if it’s kind of redundant, but the time when Blueprint 2 hit and you guys were on the “U Don’t Know”’ remix and you had all the momentum of coming off of “Cold As Ice” and “Ante Up” and then you’re on Roc and everything’s booming and they got Dipset and all that, how did you handle when it was collapsing right when you guys were peaking?


Billy Danze: The thing about that was, M.O.P. was already solidified so we didn’t need a label to give us credibility. With the exception of the first label which was Select Records, and I take my hat off and I really appreciate Fred Munao for giving us the deal, everybody else that did a deal with M.O.P. was actually M.O.P. fans.


I remember you had an interview saying Dame Dash was chasing you for years.


Billy Danze: Exactly Dame and Jay, they would come to the studio all the time. When we got there, we didn’t see that they were having problems because all we knew was they built Rocafella from the ground up and they did it together so there’s no way possible in our heads that they could ever have a problem like, look what they just accomplished. When we got there it was collapsing right in front of our face and we didn’t realize it for a while. Outside of drinking all of the Hennessy it just wasn’t our problem, you know what I’m saying. When it actually happened, the biggest thing to me was that it actually happened. I couldn’t believe it and after it happened I sat down and I talked to Jay and he put some money on the table, a room full of money, ‘Yo come get down.’ And I was like yeah I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. Same conversation with Dame. A room full of money. ‘Yo come get down.’ Yeah I don’t think I’ll be able to do that either.

My business is my friendship and my friendship is my business. M.O.P. didn’t start with, “How About Some Hardcore” we’ve been M.O.P. before then. Me and Fame been friends so long that we don’t even know when we met or how we met. So for me to see three guys build something from nothing and I mean take over, man they made a lot of money, but for them to fall apart or fallout after making all of that money and they’re supposed to be people, that led me to believe that if you could do that to him, then you could do worse to me. So I couldn’t put myself in the middle of that and I wouldn’t do it. Money is money but I’ve been making money my whole life so I didn’t just start getting money as soon as I started making records.

I got money for years. I’ve been making money since I was an 11 year old kid. When I was 11 years old I made $1000 a day. Regardless of how I made I made it. So I was good, but money don’t change me, it doesn’t move me it don’t motivate me. What’s important to me is if Fame is good, if my family around me if they’re good, then I’m good. So what they offered me, was it enough money to do a deal? It was enough money to do 2 or 3 deals but it wasn’t enough money to sacrifice who I am or disregard my thoughts of how a relationship is supposed to work so we just pulled back off the thing.


That’s pretty rare. I don’t know how many guys have really done that but it speaks to your character and the staying power you guys have had. Especially since Rocafella’s pretty much a wrap after that in the next few years, Loud Records is gone. You’ve guys have outlasted just about every label you started out with and now like you were saying about We Build Hits, like you wanna be a company not so much a label because when those things aren’t in fashion any more then the label can’t really survive. So it’s a pretty savvy way to be and I just want to know then, this is kind of like a super nerd question but for what you wanna do moving forward, will there be just a straight up Premier/M.O.P. full album?


Billy Danze: Definitely. We’ve been working on that for some time now. The thing is, Premo tours more than the hottest artist. He tours more than the hottest artist right now and so does M.O.P.


Yeah you guys were just in Philly a few months back but I got a small kid so I couldn’t make it to scream and punch people in the face.


Billy Danze: [Laughs] But we’re constantly working on it. We got some joints done. At this moment right now, what’s happening with the First Family is Fame’s doing a solo album, I’m doing a solo album, we’re working on this DJ Premier/M.O.P. album and we’re working on the M.O.P. album as well as me running the whole We Build Hits label.


I just want to know then, if you can promise me on the record that once the M.O.P./Premier album drops that you could just promise maybe that every single year we get one Premier/ M.O.P. album. For the next 5 years, just to catch up.


Billy Danze: You know what I love that dude and I’m definitely about to try! I’m about to hit Premier about that and Imma tell him exactly what it is. I would love to promise—you know what I’m gonna promise you that. I’ll promise you that I’m gonna hit Premier and I’m gonna curse his ass out and Imma be like, this has to happen!


It’s not like you guys haven’t done 18,000 songs together already. Just pick 12 every year. Every year just bang ’em out, I don’t know who doesn’t want that. Once a year it’ll be like M.O.P./Premier Day, you pick a day on the calendar you make it a social media event and it’s Premier/M.O.P. day and everyone goes batshit. They have Bobby Bonilla Day where everyone in the media celebrates how funny it is that he gets paid a million dollars from the Mets from 2011-2035. He gets a million dollars a year on that day from the contract he signed in the ’90s. It’s Bobby Bonilla day everyone knows what that is, it trends. I don’t care about Bobby Bonilla. I want M.O.P. Premier day every year.


Billy Danze: I don’t know who this guy is.


He played for the Mets in the 90’s. He got this deferred contract where they didn’t want to eat his money and pay him 5 million dollars in 2000, so they gave him a deferred contract where they said instead of giving you 5 million dollars today, we’ll stretch that out of 17 years in the future with 8% interest. So starting in 2011 and going to 2035, he gets a million dollars every year with interest. It’s in July so the media every year in the middle of July is like, “oh it’s Bobby Bonilla Day”. They talk about it, they make fun of the Mets, he’s like 50 years old now and he’s making a million dollars a day for the next however many years. We can transfer that idea for every year we know that we’re gonna get that some type of record from you guys. It’s just sitting right there for the taking.


Billy Danze: That’s great I like that! You should come up with the day and yeah that’s good!


Okay good. Settled, done. Last question I want to hit you with is Sean P. It sucks that he’s gone and thankfully we still have guys like you and Ka and people that still carry that era with them but one of the fascinating things I always thought about Sean P was his vocal love for Mary J. Blige. So I wanna know who’s your favorite R&B person that you blast when you’re cleaning the house or washing dishes. Who’s your go to R&B?


Billy Danze: Hmm. I’m an R&B dude by the way.


You have to be. All the tough guys like R&B because you want to just relax sometimes.


Billy Danze: I really wrote most of the M.O.P. records to the O’Jay’s. I swear to god I loved that shit!


It’s like Ghostface. You can just rap over the Delfonics or something.


Billy Danze: That’s hard for me because, well I wouldn’t use more up to date not like Chris Brown or anybody like that but I would say Jaheim. Jaheim, now whatever but Jaheim, the records that he came up with.


The album where he had on the brown jacket on the cover?


Billy Danze: Yes, yes! Those records was crazy! I could switch from Jaheim to Lyfe Jennings, that first album. That first album, this is what you call a masterpiece because you need to take your time to put together a masterpiece! This man had 10 years to put that record together. While he was in the cell you remember he did 10 years flat? He wrote those records; I can tell he wrote those records in the cell.

That whole album, I think there’s one song on that whole album I didn’t like. Everything else is fucking sick. And, just because we’re having this conversation that’s what I’m going to do as soon as we get off the phone. I’m gonna throw on some Lyfe, I’m go downstairs and play with my dog, that’s it!


I remember when Sean P started saying that years ago. And then you start thinking like people that make aggressive or hard music or dark music they often tend to like sweet stuff or heart-wrenching melodies. There’s a balance, like, “Hey I don’t just punch people in the face all day and talk shit.”


Billy Danze: Sean Price is from my neighborhood so we grew up the same way. I feel him, he felt me. Mary J Blige, Lyfe Jennings, fucking Bilal. This can be considered as newer stuff because we grew up listening to what our parents listened to and dude, the Temptations, Delfonics, O’Jays. It’s like all the records back then you really had to know how to sing. The only person who got away with it was James Brown.


Yeah. Talk about ad-libs, he invented the ad-lib. Him just doing ‘Uh!’ like that, how many beats were created off of that feeling?


Billy Danze: He was a hell of an entertainer. Only thing stopped him is what stopped him, you know what I mean? He wasn’t gonna stop. He was going.


I’m gonna ask you one last question and then I’ll let you roll because I know you got stuff going on. The website I’m covering this for, Passion of the Weiss, it’s been an independent music site for 10 years. Last year there was a bracket for the hardest rap album of all time. I voted for Warriorz for hardest album ever, that was my entry. Unfortunately, it lost but the hardest album ever was The Infamous by Mobb Deep. To you, what is the hardest rap album ever?


Billy Danze: The hardest rap album ever is Scarface’s Untouchable.


Okay I think that made the list. I think that was a top seed in the southern bracket. So why would you say that over Straight Outta Compton or AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted?


Billy Danze: Aw shit, right? Damn. It’s really hard. Straight Outta Compton. That’s it. I’m picking that. Yo dude, Straight Outta Compton, “Fuck The Police.” Wasn’t nobody saying shit like that yet!


Yeah but your biggest single was about robbing people. That’s why I voted for Warriorz.


Billy Danze: Warriorz was very hard but when you think about it, Warriorz was birthed from Straight Outta Compton. M.O.P. was pretty much birthed from N.W.A. Interesting, but it makes absolute sense. We’re huge N.W.A. fans, dude. And the thing about it back then when N.W.A. came out everybody was doing their own separate thing. Nobody sounded alike. KRS-One, Rakim, who by the way Rakim is the best rapper ever, there will never be another rapper as good as him.

If somebody do some stupid shit like hand me the best lyricist award I’m giving it to him immediately, he was the most incredible fucking rapper ever. But when N.W.A. came out there was nothing like that. Nothing! It was funny as hell and the most wicked shit you ever heard. Nobody could fuck with N.W.A.


I remember Chris Rock said they were The Beatles for black people


Billy Danze: They wasn’t all flashy, they had on their Raiders caps and their black flight jackets and shit. If you remember M.O.P. we had the Brooklyn hats with the flight jackets, that’s how we started, we actually were birthed from N.W.A.


I always thought you were birthed more from RUN D.M.C. The stripped down look, the energy, the voice, and the way you guys were comfortable over guitars and rock shit like they were.


Billy Danze: It takes two different beings to make the baby right. You got the straight raw street-ness from N.W.A. and the actual style from RUN D.M.C. I wanted to be Run from RUN D.M.C. for most of my life.