How about some hardcore? M.O.P. may hold credit to that phrase, but The LOX have been the embodiment of it for the better part of the last two decades.

The Yonkers trio was discovered by fellow native Mary J. Blige who introduced them to Sean "Puffy" Combs. The trio -- rappers Jadakiss, Styles P and Sheek Louch -- would ultimately sign a deal with Bad Boy Records and appear on various high-profiled tracks before unleashing their 1998 debut LP, 'Money, Power, Respect.'

The album would be certified platinum, but all wasn't sunny among the artists and the label. With friction between the group and Puff over the image and musical direction of the group, the LOX took the radio and the streets to campaign for a release from their recording contract with Bad Boy. A couple of years later, they linked up with Ruff Ryders and released their sophomore effort, 'We Are the Streets' on Jan. 25, 2000.

While not achieving the same commercial success as their previous album, 'We Are The Streets' showcased the hard-boiled rhymers spitting grimy, no-frills bars over hardcore beats.

Due to contractual limbo and their respective solo careers, 'We Are the Streets' stands as the groups last official release on a major label. Over the years, the threesome has managed to stand the test of time and is considered a classic group by a majority of the hip-hop community.

Today (Jan. 25) marks 15 years since the release of this brute tour de force and we rounded up five of the most respected people in the rap industry to share their memories of this masterpiece.

  • 1

    Mikey Fresh

    Writer, Vibe

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "I remember bringing the CD into computer class and cueing up 'F--- You'...the teacher had this look of horror that I'll never forget. I got an in-school suspension for that. Damn."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "'Recognize' -- It's one of only 2-3 songs that weren't produced by Swizz Beatz but it still fit in the sequence perfectly. The guys all take their time finessin' the track with slow flows."

    Favorite Beat(s) On the Album:

    "'F--- You' -- Nothing will be able to recreate that feeling. The LOX were officially out of their shiny suit contract and had a vendetta against everyone who doubted them."

    What Makes 'We Are the Streets' a Classic:

    "I think this was really the album they wanted to make as their debut. Finally in full creative control of their sound, 'Kiss, Styles and Sheek each sounded like they put everything they into each verse. From the hilarious skits, all the street records and even that Timbaland single that helped them sell some records, 'We Are The Streets' was everything LOX fans hoped it would be"

    Favorite Verse on the Album:

    "Styles P [on] 'Felony N----s' -- It's basically just SP snappin' about how hard he is, but he does it so effortlessly here."

    Twitter
  • 2

    Von Pea (of Tanya Morgan)

    Artist

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "To be real I was still trying to figure out who The LOX were gonna be around this time. They were spitters of course, but they signed to Bad Boy based on Puff being able to take other street rappers (B.I.G., Ma$e) and make them stars. That didn't fit them so they took it back to the street with a chip on their shoulder! I don't blame them but I just didn't see where they were gonna go with it. In retrospect, they haven't let me down and this album was the right step like a motherf---er."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "'F--- You' because it was beat into my head by the mixshows on the radio, and it sums up the post-Bad Boy approach with those two words. (Laughs) I was also happy Kasino made the album on 'Can I Live' because rappers always got their mixtape [producer] homeboy that never used to make the real album. The LOX changed that."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "'Recognize.' And you know why."

    What Makes 'We Are the Streets' a Classic:

    "If you're a LOX diehard its defintely a classic to you because its the first time they were all the way them for a whole official album."

    Favorite Verse(s) on the Album:

    "First verse on 'Blood Pressure' because to this day I still say, "And I ain't talking to him, I'm talking to you, matter fact I'm talking to y'all!" at random...at least once a week."

    Song From the Album You Wish You Could've Laid a Guest Verse On:

    "'Recognize.' And you know why. (Laughs)"

    Twitter
  • 3

    David Amaya

    Social Media Strategist (Complex)

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album: 

    "Well, this album dropped in 2000, which means I was only 10 (Laughs). So, I honestly didn't hear this till about 9th grade in 2004. I remember I bought it at the same time I bought Eminem's 'Encore' for some reason. But when I first heard it, it really made me become such a big L-O-X fan. More so, Styles and Jada because I think they work so well with each other when they make music. "

    Favorite Song on the Album:

    "I'm picking 'Ryde or Die, Bitch' as my favorite track. For the obvious reason that this is probably top 5 beats from Timbaland. Every time I hear this song it gets better each time."

    Favorite Beat on the Album:

    "Just like I said before, 'Ryde or Die, Bitch' gotta be one of Timbo's best beat, which is my favorite from the album."

    Best Verse(s) on the Album:

    "I'm a huge Jada fan so I'm always going to say he has the best verse on 'F--- You,' which is my favorite from the album. Still to this day, I don't think Jada disappoints when he throws down a verse."

    What Makes the Album a Classic:

    "It's classic because the LOX really proved themselves on this album to me personally. Every time I go back to this one, I can't stop listening to it."

    Twitter
  • 4

    AG the Coroner

    Artist

     Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "Man, that was around 2000 this album dropped. I remember because I had just came back home from living in the South for a little over a year. This was the 1st album I copped when I got back and I was hype listening to it...it felt like they made it just for me as a welcome home gift lol."

    Favorite Song on the Album:

    "'Breath Easy' hands down...that shot was murderous to the fullest extent...I would run that song back 10 times or more...they could've put that shot on the album 13 times and I still would've copped it."

    Favorite Beat on the Album:

    "Once again, 'Breathe Easy'....one of the hardest beats ever made...f---ing raw uncut."

    Favorite Verse(s) on the Album:

    "Pinero's verse on Breathe Easy'...looking back and listening to what he did during those years I now realize how much of an influence he was on Coronelli."

    Why the Album Is a Classic: 

    "It was their coming out party and for that it will always remain classic...we were introduced to the real LOX with this one...Golden."

    Twitter
  • 5

    Bos Naud

    Cultural Critic

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "'We Are The Streets' was the LOX’s redemption song. 'Money, Power & Respect' wasn’t the album many expected from them. Unbeknownst to many the jiggy era was coming to a close, Ruff Ryders & Rocafella were bringing the music back to the streets. The LOX could sense the shift happening and attacked the mixtape circuit heavy! They were mainstays on Clue tapes as well as many other tapes. Plus they wanted off of Bad Boy something serious so they started the “Free The LOX” campaign.

    When this album dropped in 2000 I was just being introduced to the party scene down in Orlando, FL when this album dropped. We had a spot down there called Club Volcanos which was our equivalent to the Tunnel. The spot was promoted by Greg G who is a legendary dude out in those parts and the music was held down by DJ Prostyle (Power 105) & DJ Nasty (Producer behind 'All I Do Is Win'). Every single time 'Wild Out' would drop it would be straight pandemonium in there!  Dudes and chicks on the floor just losing their entire minds to this record."

    Favorite Song on the Album and Why?

    "I always hate this question because it really depends on what kind of mood or state of mind I’m in. When I’m feeling super gaudy I would go with ‘F--- You’ cause what more needs to be said? 'Recognize' was a dream come true for a lot of LOX fans cause of how they bodied that Clue freestyle over Gang Starr’s 'You Know My Steez' (“We about to burn this Primo joint down like we bought it”). So the stage was set for them to get in the lab with the gawd Primo."

    Favorite Beat on the Album:

    "‘Ryde or Die Bitch.' Timbaland really had the hardest group out not named MOP rapping over what sounded like a ukulele, and you know what? It was awesome!"

    Best Verse(s) on the Album:

    "Gotta go with Jada’s entire solo joint ‘Blood Pressure’ on this one. Jada pretty much setup his solo album with that song. I didn’t care for the hook at all but it’s not about that. It was hard to follow up 'All For the Love,' which was his solo song on 'Money, Power & Respect,' but he achieved that with ‘Blood Pressure.'

    Why You Feel the Album Is a Classic and Has Stood the Test of Time?

    "This album re-certified their street status, it’s their musical foundation till this day and they haven’t looked back since. They’ve fully committed themselves to making music strictly and only for the streets. Some of the production on the album is pretty dated, simply because of the heavy reliance on Swizz’s early production. But at the same time this is beauty of the album, it’s a time capsule. It’s also the last time we got a full major release from the group. All three of these guys had something to prove, to the industry, to their former employer and more importantly to the streets."

    Twitter