M.O.P. is one of a kind when it comes to hip-hop, not only because of its grittiest of street tales, but also because any real hip-hop head must wonder why the group hasn’t really broken through yet. “Ante Up” was arguably the biggest street anthem of 2000, and M.O.P. appeared to be on the cusp of breaking into the mainstream after years of successful underground albums such as Firing Squad and First Family 4 Life. When they signed to G-Unit last year, it looked as if the tables would finally turn for ‘Lil Fame and Billy Danze. But that has yet to be seen, even with the mighty backing of Curtis Jackson and Interscope. Either way, Salutes the St. Marxmen is more evidence that this group is overdue for its just rewards.
The unusual tag team of 9th Wonder and the Mash Out Posse works well on “Instigator,” but the usual tandem of M.O.P. and DJ Premier actually is a bit lackluster on the “Pop Shots Remix.” “Put It in the Air,” featuring Jay-Z, is a somber reminder of what could’ve been if the M.O.P./Roc-A-Fella combination had worked out, and “Muddy Waters” is another quality notch under the Brooklyn duo’s belt. Songs such as “Hip-Hop Cops,” featuring Wyclef, should’ve been left out if it weren’t for the guest’s namesake, but the album — whether it be seen as a compilation or filler between a mixtape and actual studio album — shows why Danze and Fame are among the most respected artists in hip-hop. So whenever 50 decides to stop promoting Mobb Deep out the ass and lets go of weak links such as Tony Yayo and Olivia, M.O.P. may finally get its time to shine. If I were him, I wouldn’t let M.O.P. sit on the bench too long, because this may be the group’s last chance.