Lil’ Fame (Jamal Grinnage) and Billy Danze (Eric Murray)grew up together in the neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn and formed a gang called Mash Out People. With a desire to express themselves through rap, they formed a hip-hop group named after their gang. Originally, Fame was the DJ of the group. With encouragement from his older brother, Fame began to write his own rhymes.
After contributing to the 1992 compilation The Hill That’s Real, M.O.P. debuted in 1993 with the single “How About Some Hardcore?”, which appeared on the soundtrack for the film House Party 3. The underground success of the single, promoted by a low-budget video from then-unknown director Hype Williams, led to their debut album To the Death. It was released in 1994 on the small label Select Records, almost fully produced by DR Period.
In 1996, M.O.P. released their second effort, Firing Squad. Hoping for better promotion, they signed with Relativity Records. Changing record labels and production duties to include Gang Starr’s DJ Premier and Lil’ Fame himself, the group still kept their energetic style, and gained a slightly larger following this time round. In 1998 M.O.P. released the Handle Ur Bizness EP, which was soon followed by the album First Family 4 Life. Working with the same formula, again with a heavy percentage of the record produced by DJ Premier and Lil’ Fame, the album featured guest appearances by Guru of Gang Starr, Treach of Naughty by Nature, OC of Diggin’ in the Crates Crew and Jay-Z. The album had the dubious distinction of being the most stolen album from New York City’s HMV stores in 1998…