St. Marxmen

M.O.P.

Koch

After signing to G-Unit/Interscope this past July, the Mash Out Posse may finally be in a position to unseat Onyx as the most moneyed screaming rap act of all time. The deal is such a big one that even indie imprint Koch Records, which released M.O.P.’s latest album, St. Marxmen, seems anxious for Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame to start work over at 50 Cent’s label: M.O.P. manager Laze Elliott has said that Koch tried to capitalize on the buzz by leading the public to believe that St. Marxmen, is, in fact, the Brooklyn-based group’s first G-Unit project. If it’s true (Koch has denied the allegations), it’s a clever but futile plan to move units. There’s no way anyone would ever confuse St. Marxmen with a bland, polished G-Unit release. And most important of all, the Downtown Swingas don’t sing. Ever. The album begins with “Fliptro,” which features a robotic-sounding female voice that announces, “St. Marxmen Part Two, again, you bitches,” in a low-budget impersonation of the narrator that guided A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders. The disc’s first single, “Pain,” is a track more depressive than M.O.P.’s usual manic style, with a stately beat, sad lyrics, and a croony hook courtesy of CQ da Teacher. The energy level gets kicked back up with such tracks as “Put It in the Air,” featuring Jay-Z, one of the songs recorded while M.O.P. was signed to Roc-A-Fella. Jay’s guest-spot game has been slipping lately, but here he not only is nimble but also classes up the joint: “Always focused and double-toasted/When the shit pop off in the club, we host it.” The remix of “Pop Shots” brings the team together with DJ Premier and the late O.D.B., and the result is stunning: Dearly departed Ol’ Dirty wails and slurs, Danze and Fame yell, and Premier scratches over a low-octave, six-chord piano loop chopped up by a kick drum. St. Marxmen is sturdy, quintessential M.O.P., and depending on what happens under the new contract, it may well stand as the group’s final untainted work. This album could be your last chance to catch Danze and Fame before a stuttering cry of “G-g-g-g” replaces their trademark “Salute!” —