Photos by Kris Ex
There are a few interesting door policies going on at Warehouse Live these days. Lighters are no longer allowed in the building. There's a small trash bin by the door where you can deposit your lighter, so there's always a few available if you come out to puff in the gated smoking section. (Note: Better off leaving that custom Zippo in the car.)
The thinking is that they don't want anyone smoking inside. Which makes no sense, because if you're going to ignore the indoor smoking ban and possibly, probably, most likely, be puffing on the cheeba during said ignorance, you're very likely to be willing and able to swing smuggling a lighter past Houston security. It's not like they're performing those NY-style crotchgrabs.
Pens are no longer allowed inside, either. Nor markers or wallet chains. "That's just a hip-hop thing," says the security guy at the door. "Hip-hop and rock - we do it for all the shows." This does make sense, because headliner M.O.P. is nothing if not a belligerent punk-rock band trapped inside a hip-hop group.
Onstage, rappers Billy Danzenie and Lil' Fame are all leashed menace. Danze is a playful pit bull that can go rabid at any moment and snatch your face off while wagging his tail; Fame a surly bulldog/rottweiler mix you just want to keep feeding and tossing toys to, lest you leave with one less leg.
Even their DJ and manager, Laze E Laze - who was noticeably and proudly sippy off Patron - comes off as that old crazy Doberman that you just. Want. To. Leave. Alone. Whatever he's doing is fine; as long as he continues to do it over there.
There was a barricade set up in front of the stage, ostensibly to protect the group from the audience, which made no sense because if anything, the audience needed protection from M.O.P. "For those of you who do not know us, we are M.O.P.," said Danze halfway through their set. "And if you do not know us, you will not motherfuckin' forget us." It would be hard not to know who they are.
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Backed by Connie Price and the Keystones, an eight-piece L.A.-based deep funk band that does great justice to hip-hop nuance, the Mash Out Posse shouted their group name just about every song; and their music is all extra-loud martial assault and adrenaline-overdose aggression centered around the different ways that they can hurt, maim and destroy your physical being.
To wit, opening number “Cold as Ice”: "When it's on, you fuck around and get ripped up/ Or get placed in a bodybag with that ass zipped up/ Toe tag him/ Even ballistics won't be able to tell how the .44 ragged him/ Dragged him halfway down the block."
The Brownsville, Brooklyn duo hasn't released a proper album in a decade and a half - amazing considering they've had lengthy stints on two hip-hop powerhouses - Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella and 50 Cent's G-Unit - in that time. But M.O.P. has always come off as wantonly not playing by the rules. They take pride in making music how they want, when they want. They have no issue with unscripted cross-stage banter during the show, nor do they mind taking a fifth of cognac to its end in between numbers.
And when they decide to get into their most abrasive numbers - "Ante Up," "Put It in the Air," "Calm Down" - the place is all mosh-pit thuggery; street madness on pogo sticks during an earthquake. Thank heavens there were no pens around. There's no telling what might have happened. – Kris Ex