Nearly 25 years after entering the rap world one half of M.O.P. is going for dolo. Billy Danze is preparing for the release of his first solo album, which will be a little different from his Mash Out Posse work. An older, wiser Danze has taken on the role of CEO of the We Build Hits imprint and aims to not only release his own music, but the work of young up and coming artists.
The Brownsville, New York native released the singles “Barclays Music” and “We Out Here,” which prominently feature some of the artists signed to his label. His second single, 6 O’clock Briefing, shows us a different Billy Danze altogether. On the song Danze has a sit down with President Barack Obama and breaks down the problems addressing the United States of America – a far cry from classic M.O.P. material like “Ante Up” or “How About Some Hardcore.”
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Billy Danze about hot button political topics, his We Build Hits imprint, upcoming solo album, and the future of M.O.P.
TRHH: What inspired the song 6 O’clock Briefing?
Billy Danze: You know what, bro, me and you can get together and talk about all this stuff that’s going on in the country with the police shootings and all of that, but that’s something that we can just talk about. I knew people were going to be doing records about these shootings, I’ve heard records about ‘em, but I didn’t wanna do that. I wanted to say something directly to Mr. President. I wanted to say exactly how I felt. It’s not a political piece. It’s not even a record in my eyes, it’s just me having a conversation with him and saying what I wanted to say. I made sure that the beat was the way it is ‘cause we didn’t want no dancing, we didn’t want no head bobbing, and we definitely didn’t want no clubbing going on with this. I just wanted to say what I wanted to say to the President. People are receiving it like I expected, so I’m really appreciative for the response I’m getting on it, you know?
TRHH: Would you say that you’re disappointed in Obama’s tenure in office?
Billy Danze: No. I’m not disappointed in him at all. The thing about the song is as a black man, well, as a man period, do you not see what’s happening? If we check the facts Obama did great. A shit load of jobs done popped out of the blue since he’s been in office, the economy is much better, fuckin’ gas prices went down, living situations for a lot of people have gotten better, too. So he’s done a great job. You and I both know he’s the President, which means he’s just the face. This is America – America is never going to be ran by just one person. He’s just the President and everybody else makes decisions. He has the right to object to those decisions and try to fight and push bills, but he doesn’t make all the decisions. Even in the record I said that, “We know you did what you had to do,” he did the best that he could. I’m very proud of our President of the last eight years because he turned the country around and did a lot better than the last President who left us in a really bad spot.
TRHH: What would you have done differently if you were him?
Billy Danze: I don’t know. I don’t know if there was anything that he could have done differently. The only thing that I may think about when it comes to that is maybe the points that I made in the record that, “I need you to see what’s going on out here with our people.” Business is business and I understand as the President running the country, it’s only business. But as a human being are you telling me that you don’t see what’s going on here? I think I would be addressing a little more of the incidents that’s going on because that’s very important. It’s almost like we’re going back into fuckin’ time where white officers are allowed to kill black men and women, Spanish men and women, even their own race.
They should not be allowed to shoot people, especially in the damn back, especially unarmed, without any kind of consequences. Even now if someone walks in my home and is trying to hurt me and my family and I shoot ‘em in the back I’m going to jail for murder and they came in here to kill me. So how is it cool for a police officer to shoot an unarmed man in the back and he don’t go to jail at all? At the very most they send him on leave or suspend him with pay. That’s fuckin’ ridiculous to me. I would address that a little more – senseless killings – especially police against citizens.
TRHH: You mentioned the issues going on in Chicago in the song. I’m from Chicago, how do you think the gun violence problem can be fixed?
Billy Danze: You’re from Chicago I’m from Brownsville; we basically live in the same place but in two different spots. It’s the same thing. Gun violence has been going on for years. Even now they want more gun control. What they’re trying to say is they want to take the guns from model citizens to protect themselves. They’re all gonna be disarmed but the guys on the block aren’t. I don’t know how that’s gonna help gun violence. I really don’t have an answer for that because how are we gonna move the guns? We can’t get the guns from them now! The police can’t take the guns from dudes now, so how is that possible? In the state that I’m in now there’s a lot of gun shops. Some of them were empty because they thought Hillary Clinton would get in the chair and take all the guns back from the citizens.
Some of the gun manufacturers stopped producing guns, but they’re still millions of ‘em out there. They would have been able to take them back from people who have legitimate licenses, but the criminals are still gonna have them. I don’t really know what to do about that. I don’t see that there’s much that can be done. They’re not gonna be able to get all the guns off the street unless they do some martial law shit – head door-to-door, start possibly killing people, that’s the only way it’s gonna happen. People just gotta wake up and understand you’re shooting people in your own community, you’re bringing your own property value down, you’re hurting the person that’s next to you that can possible help you. I don’t think it’s anything that can happen with the law that can stop the gun violence. I think people are just going to have to come to their senses and realize what they’re doing.
TRHH: I want to correct you on what you said about politicians wanting to take the guns away. That’s not true. I think what Hillary Clinton and other Democrats wanted to do was to make the people buying guns go through a little bit more of a background check…
Billy Danze: But there’s already a federal background check. How much more can we go through?
TRHH: I don’t know. But I do know that people with mental illness like the kid who shot those black people in the church in South Carolina, or racist people, probably shouldn’t have access to guns.
Billy Danze: Definitely not, but on the actual application they ask you all of this. You can’t be dishonorably discharged from the military, you can’t have domestic violence charges, you can’t have any kind of felonies, and you can’t have a history of mental issues, that’s basically it. They put it through this whole federal thing where they check all across the country to see if you’ve ever been involved in anything that would prevent you from getting this firearm. The only thing that possibly can happen is you actually have to go to see someone and they evaluate you and stuff like that. The kid that walked in the church and shot those people, if he had any kind of mental issues they wouldn’t have gave him a firearm. It’s probably not even his firearm. It probably was his father’s, his mother’s or somebody else. I get what you’re saying, they want to do a different kind of a background check, but everything that’s on the application is everything that can be done, unless they make you walk in a room and get some type of screening, which that would be cool, too. I mean we’re talking about firearms. Pulling the trigger to actually harm someone is not easy. It’s not easy to do. Once a person does something like that, I don’t care how sharp you’ve been your whole life, but something goes through your head and you’re a changed person after that. It’s not easy.
I just hope for the best, bro. I hope that we figure out a way to stop the violence. Maybe the people that are in Chicago and Brooklyn that are not in gangs and are just taking their kids to school or coming from work, they need to be able to protect themselves. If nobody had guns and I’m coming from school or work and I can protect myself, if you’re fighting, I’m fighting. But you’re pulling out a fuckin’ gun, how am I going to protect myself? You gotta allow me to protect myself. This is something that the government should think about too because they allowed people to get the guns in the first place. You know what it is, man. This government is all fucked up [laughs]. Let’s call a spade a spade. I’m trying to sugar coat the shit because I don’t want nobody to be mad and shit, but let’s call a spade a spade. The government is fucked up. I watched a video of an OG from Chicago who had changed his life and said his man came and woke him up one day and was like, “Yo, it’s a crate of guns in the alley!” What you mean it’s a crate of guns in the alley? It was on Worldstar or something. First of all you know ain’t nobody in the hood sitting no crate of guns in the alley [laughs]. We ain’t doing that! Who actually did that? It doesn’t make sense, bro. They want us to off ourselves so they don’t have to do it. Because we haven’t been doing it fast enough now they’re doing it. I didn’t want to get political, man.
TRHH: One last political question, what are your thoughts on Donald Trump?
Billy Danze: Trump’s an asshole. That’s my personal thought. He’s just as bad as a motherfucker in Chicago or a motherfucker in Brooklyn. He’ll fly off the handle one day. He’s used to flying off the handle and having lawyers sit around and fuckin’ tax people – that’s his kinda beef. But in this shit, you can’t be mad at fuckin’ Melania one day ‘cause she didn’t cook the right shit or she did something out of pocket and then you’re pissed off when Putin call and you talk to him like he ain’t nobody. You talk to Putin like he ain’t nobody and we all gon’ be fuckin’ fried. He’s not the dude for the job. I wish Bernie Sanders had made it this far because he was the right guy here.
TRHH: Why did you decide to do a solo project after all these years?
Billy Danze: People asked for it from time to time. It was something I was never comfortable with, even though around 2006-2007 I started doing solo records that I was leaking. They were good, people enjoyed them, and I enjoyed making them. It was a weird process for me because I’m used to sharing the mic, the song, and the spotlight with Fame. It was a little strange to me. I had to actually come up with the whole song, the concept, and everything myself. Now I just brought it back up and decided to go ahead and do it. People are really appreciating the way I’m doing it. It’s nothing different from M.O.P., because I’m always going to be myself, but it’s much different from M.O.P. because it’s a different sound, a different angle, and I get to showcase myself as an individual as opposed to doing it as M.O.P. the group. Fame is also doing a solo album, too. We’re both doing them at the same time. Right now we’re working on our solo projects, an M.O.P. project, and an M.O.P. & Premier project. We got our work cut out for us.
TRHH: Oh my God. I’ve been hearing about the M.O.P./Premier album for a couple of years now. How deep are you into that?
Billy Danze: We’re a little over halfway through. We’re working artists. We’re touring all the time, Premier is touring all the time, and that’s been the hold up. We’re really not in a rush because it’s a classic album that has to be almost perfect when we release it to the public. We don’t mind taking our time. If we weren’t touring and Premier wasn’t touring I’m sure we would have banged it out within a month or so. With the touring and doing the other projects – Fame heavily on production for other artists, myself, I’m running the whole We Build Hits Company with my own artists – we’re just kind of taking our time with everything and making sure we do everything right.
TRHH: What’s the goal for the We Build Hits company?
Billy Danze: Thank you, brother for asking that. What we’re doing with We Build Hits is putting out artists that we feel deserve to be put out. We have an artist from Atlanta, Florida, Toronto, Philadelphia, North Carolina, from different places. I didn’t want to do a record label. In my eyes a record label is labeled for a sound. No disrespect to all these guys because they’re all friends of mine, but you have G-Unit, which has that sound, you had Death Row, which had that sound, Roc-A-Fella, which had that sound. In my opinion when you have one sound on a label once that sound fizzles out then the whole label fizzles out. We’ve seen it with Death Row, Roc-A-Fella, and G-Unit. What we wanted to do was build a company, which had different sounds, so if one sound fizzles out the other can keep going so the company never dies. Sort of like a Sony or Interscope.
We wanted to do it like that because I really don’t need people around me that sound like me. I already got that covered. We can cover anything from traditional Hip-Hop, to trap, to pop music at We Build Hits. We have artists that do all of that. I wanted to make sure that people get an understanding about myself because even though I made music the way M.O.P. made music for years, I’m talented enough to do other things. That’s why you get 6 O’clock Briefing and some of the other records that you get on the solo joint. People have been responding well to all the artists that we’ve put out – my boy Ronve, D-Dub, Lucci Loner, Eyeznpowa, and my boy Tona out in Toronto. We’re just gonna keep moving and keep pushing and hopefully we get over that hump where we need to be and we can start making it a little bigger.
TRHH: What can we expect to hear on the Billy Danze solo album?
Billy Danze: All kind of things, man. I don’t know if you heard the first single, Barclays Music. It was more traditional Hip-Hop but had a really big sound to it. We just released the next record, We Out Here. I’m going after those features that I’m supposed to get and I deserve from artists that wanna rock with me like The Lox, Jada, Sheek, and all of those cats, Rakim, my crew from We Build Hits, and a few other dudes. It should be a good album. I’m working really hard at it and it’s coming out really good.
Purchase: Billy Danze – 6 O’clock Briefing