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M.O.P.

Ten Years and Gunnin'

Columbia

There is no getting around the following admission: M.O.P.'s so-called "greatest hits" album, 10 Years and Gunnin', is a shameless attempt sell records, and there ain't much "great" about it at all. Ten tracks, nine songs ("Ante Up" appears in its original form and as a remix) amount to forty uninspired minutes of wannabe-thuggery.

This album is plagued with hackneyed lyrics ("comin' to bust gats, but I bust raps / I keep the heads boppin'") and insipid production (a clumsy pastiche of insufferable 80's samples, extrapolated from the likes of "Eye of the Tiger" and "Cold as Ice," set to flaccid beats). This ain't the same M.O.P. that, a few years back, raised the bar of hardcore thug rap with visceral storytelling and an unrelenting -- almost screamed -- delivery, set to the insinuating soundscapes of DJ Premiere (e.g. "Downtown Flow" and "Breakin the Rules" from First Family for Life). Thug rap (or whatever the fuck you wanna call the East Coast's -- particularly Brooklyn's -- response to Tupac's thugisms) languishes today, and Ten Years and Gunnin' is a fine attestation as to why.

The promise that M.O.P. evinced when they dropped To the Death and Firing Squad has been compromised somewhere along the way. Maybe it's because they've compromised their blues roots for pop sensibilities that merely pander to mainstream (read: white) America's notion of ghetto reality while somehow convincing themselves that they are still "keeping it real." Perhaps it's because Biggie and Tupac have been dead long enough (notwithstanding the incessant stream of posthumous releases that might suggest otherwise for the latter), and Dr. Dre is off running his minstrel show, that M.O.P. have become complacent and somewhat lackadaisical with their craft; after all, who else is gonna set new precedents in the genre, some white boy from Detroit?

Columbia Records: http://www.columbiarecords.com/