East Coast Hip-Hop

Their domain is a masculine free-for-all, as thugs, pimps and pushers rule (boss?) with unstable power and questionable morality.

While East Coast hip-hop heads often complain that West Coast rap is

abstract and esoteric, M.O.P. is a favorite target of West Coast

rappers. West Coasters claim that The Mash Out Posse represents a New

York aesthetic that doesn't travel well beyond Brooklyn and its

surrounding boroughs. And whereas West Coast MCs finesse the mic, New

Yorkers M.O.P. choose instead to berate the mic, whipping out

their signature "yeeeeeooow!" at the beginning of most songs.

While this yelp catapults M.O.P. pretty high up the annoyance scale, the

group still possesses an oddly compelling quality. The trick to

unearthing said quality isn't to avoid M.O.P.'s loud and abrasive style

so much as it is to attempt to understand why they feel they have to

scream in the first place (this touchy-feeliness being representative of

the West Coast approach, of course. The East Coast approach? Turn down

the g.d. volume!). All this yelling ... it must have something to do

with New York ...

M.O.P.'s conception of Gotham City is something along the lines of a

blaxploitation fantasy updated for the '90s -- one in which Priest (from

"Superfly") and Willie Hutch's "The Mack" assume informal civic

leadership positions. Their domain is a masculine free-for-all, as

thugs, pimps and pushers rule (boss?) with unstable power and

questionable morality. It's an atmosphere in which ghetto pride is the

everyonlygod, an atmosphere in which people yell because that's what the

environment calls for -- Godfatheresque, whispered threats will get you

nowhere in M.O.P.'s 'hood.

Essential to M.O.P.'s power is Gang Starr's DJ Premier, who turns what

could easily have been a mediocre gun-clap album into something a bit

more sublime. Premier has emerged as this decade's most talented

producer, and he captures a sound that has come to define the essence of

New York hip-hop. His kick-snare (listen to "Breakin' The Rules" and

"Salute Part II") manages to conjure the calm to counter the storm.

"Down 4 Whateva" kicks in with a vicious guitar riff and a chorus that

scratches out every important hood in Brooklyn (though it has Premier

written all over it, M.O.P. actually produced this one). "Down 4

Whateva" rocks hard, with special thanks due to O.C., another Brooklyn

bad-boy who puts in a cameo appearance.

After awhile though, the repetition of the songs gets a little wearing:

"Facing Off," "Downtown Swinga 98" and "Fly Nigga Hill Figga" make use

of the same formula. Still, the only really flat track is "4

Alarm Blaze," in which the unfortunate song "Eye of the Tiger" (of

"Rocky" fame) is sampled (M.O.P. is assaultive enough without the

addition of '80s cock-rock). On the flip-side, M.O.P.'s lighter touches

are surprisingly successful. Songs like "Blood, Sweat and Tears," "New

York Salute" and "What the Future Holds" employ soft keys, piano chords

and vibes to pleasing effect.