Sunday, August 19, 2012

M.O.P. -- "Ante Up" (2000)

Ante up! Yap that fool!
Ante up!  Kidnap that fool!

The world of M.O.P. (Mash Out Posse) as portrayed in "Ante Up" is a very scary place -- a dystopia, if you will.  

If you are crazy enough to venture into their 'hood wearing or driving anything flashy -- rings, bracelets, watches, minks, or a BMW 740i -- you best prepare to be yapped (i.e., robbed).  So prepare to ante up, fool.  It's "your life or your jewels," and you best believe they ain't lyin'.

When my daughters played basketball at the Academy of the Holy Cross about ten years ago, pre-game warmups were accompanied by rap music -- including this song.  (Were the sisters who ran the Academy deaf?  Or were they just not listening?)

One of the hip-hop tracks that was regularly played while the AHC Tartans prepared to take on the Our Lady of Good Counsel Falcons, or the Paul VI Panthers, or the Bishop McNamara Mustangs, or whomever their opponents were that evening -- OutKast's "The Whole World" -- will be featured in an upcoming 2 or 3 lines.  

I remembered that they also used to play a completely over-the-top song about robbing people during warmups, and I wanted to write about this song as well.  But I had no idea what its title was, or who performed it.   

To quote every twenty-something waiter or waitress who has served me in a restaurant in the last five years, "Not a problem!"  I just did Google searches for "top rap songs 2001" and "top rap songs 2000" and so on.  Sure enough, "Ante Up" popped up almost immediately -- eureka!

Billy Danze and Lil' Fame of M.O.P.
M.O.P. (which consists of veteran Brooklyn MCs Lil' Fame and Billy Danze) has released nine albums since 1994.  They've always had a loyal fan base, but "Ante Up" -- which is on their fourth album, Warriorz --  is the only one of their songs that made a real impression nationally (and internationally). calls Warriorz "a Molotov cocktail of an album" marked by M.O.P.'s unique brand of "harmonium high-energy thuggery."  (I'd call it a "stick of dynamite" rather than a Molotov cocktail, but you get the picture.)

Robert Christgau, the self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics," said that Warriorz was "a rap record to terrify your ass."  He then talked about how he couldn't help but enjoy the album despite the fact that he totally disapproved of it.

As is no secret, I hate gangsta rap -- its smugness, its brutality, its cool, its lies, its contempt for the ordinary, its failure to provide role models for young African-American men.  But this specimen convinces me that, sometimes, thugs have more fun. . . . I scoff at "guilty pleasures," too.  Pleasure is nothing to feel guilty about.  This may be.

I second that emotion.  You can't explain why you start whooping and hollering and trying to act like a 21-year-old rapper from Brownsville when "Ante Up" is playing any more than you can explain the appeal of watching porn.  It's pure atavism -- you can't defend it intellectually any more than you can deny its visceral appeal.

Here's "Ante Up":

Click here to buy "Ante Up" from Amazon:

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