Legendary emcee Styles P is no stranger to the game. Synonymous with the hard hitting, brutally honest street culture and hip-hop, the Yonkers emcee, along with his LOX comrades, have been integral in perpetuating what always mattered in hip-hop: An unwavering dedication to what it truly means to be a emcee in an era where many hip-hop artists struggle to maintain their relevance and image. Styles P has mastered what many in the game have failed to do: find an equilibrium between the Gangster and the Gentleman all while carving out a sense of fulfillment in a hip-hop industry that is empty at the surface and deep and complex at the core. There is a reason why Styles P has been so successful in the game as a veteran. The Dirty Bodega had the pleasure of catching up with S.P. the Ghost to discuss his viewpoints about the culture, the game and the importance of balance in life. You know the old adage: Gangstas don’t die…they just turn into legend…
DB: It certainly seems like 2013 has been a great year for you. In April you dropped your latest album “Float“ with producer Scram Jones. Take us through the process on how you hooked up with Scram to make the album.
SP: Scram is a friend of mine. He always comes through to D Block studios. I always used to hit up his studio in Mt. Vernon and bang out some songs. My engineer Poobs, Sheek and Jada were out of town and I needed a place to work and bang out some tracks and Scram offered me his studio to do a couple sessions. I got a couple beats from him and as we were working, we just kept banging out tracks and ended up with a project. The whole process was real organic. That’s the homie; he is the producer, I’m the emcee and we just pretty much just banged them shits out.
DB: Im glad that you touched on the word “organic”. The album was very true to the core values of hip-hop. No holds barred lyrics, ill hard beats and the chemistry between emcee and producer. On the track “Manson Murder”, you said “Next time you rhyme/put your mind in it”. Do you feel that there is a shortage of the “thinking emcee”?
SP: Definitely, but they’re a lot of thinking emcees as well that just don’t get their shine. Thinking emcees are always going to last because you can’t count out the recent success of say, an artist like J Cole or Kendrick Lamar; I consider them to be thinking emcees but that is on a massive scale. I think we are right at the point where the importance of thinking emcee is coming back around. I mean, you have two different worlds. You have hip-hop and you have the industry, so when you have big corporations interested in a industry and technology all in one, it all plays a part in people being “desensitized”. Everything music-wise is instant nowadays. If you ask kids these days to recite the third verse off the fourth song off their favorite artists album, they aren’t going to be able to do that. We are in an age where fans want everything real fast. The game has been like this for so long that its switching back around and you can have a successful J Cole or Kendrick Lamar album. I feel like its creeping back around….it just takes the people to really want something.
(cont) You have emcees like Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$ and Troy Ave who are spitters. People just have to not be afraid to support the real and then the real cannot bend or sell themselves short creatively and artistically. Stick to what you do…because that’s how you want to deliver it. I think New York emcees tampered with the New York sound a few years ago chasing that dollar and that success that others have. The city has to support the city. New York is supposed to have a New York sound and I think we are getting back to where emcees have to sound a certain way and you say… Aight…he’s from the Apple. I feel like that part is majorly important.
SP: New York artists have never been about big camaraderie. The concept of camaraderie started in the mid to late 90’s. You never heard Kane and Rakim on the same song…You never heard Kane and KRS on a song. You heard Kane and Kool G on The Symphony, but never the other two. This is what we do, its supposed to be a competitive sport. Who gets on the court to want to score the least? Its a verbal thinking sport. You want to be the best you can be; bust ass and show everyone what your game is like. This is what New York emceeing is about; and that is where it has to stay. It is all good to be cool with others, but stand your ground lyrically and do what you do.
DB: Interesting that you mention hip-hop as verbal sport. Kendrick Lamar voiced the same opinion that hip-hop was a competitive, almost gladiatorial sport and called out what many would consider “industry friends”. It put a lot of “comfortable” emcees on notice lyrically. You feel like most artists struggle to maintain that equilibrium between staying relevant and keeping their core sound?
SP: I can’t speak for anyone else, I simply stay true to who I am and would never break who I am to appeal to the masses. Id rather say what I say and if you either you rock with it or you don’t. Artists get stuck with what position they are in and what they are shooting for. One artist might shoot for 100% of the money none of the fame. One might want 100% of the fame and no money…one artist might be 50/50. It all boils to what you want to achieve as an emcee. Me as an emcee, when I die, I want everyone to remember me as being nice emcee, the buck stop pretty much right there. I’ve managed to turn a hobby into a job and into a career all while respecting my art and my craft. I tried to make music that comes from heart, you can rock with it or you don’t. People respect that…might not always be the flashiest shit, but I’m not a flashy dude, Id rather get mine on the low, be comfortable and stay chilling.
DB: I feel this is precisely why you and the LOX get so much respect… Your career in the game has been well documented, which is, in my opinion, that legendary status of emcee. What the fans have always respected and appreciated is the deep complexity you have shown as an emcee as a brand. Being able to be that Gangsta and Gentleman.You have your book Invincible, you also opened up your Juices For Life Juice Bar in the Bronx. All these moves that you have been making leads me to believe that you are more well rounded as an artist and as a person. Take us through how good 2013 has been for Styles P.
SP:2013 has been great for me. I’m breathing, I’m alive, my family is healthy. Juices For Life is doing well. I’m working on my second fiction novel. Poobs and I have been working on scripts.We are working on getting our film company off the ground. I’ve also been in the lab writing a lot. We back in the studio making LOX music…I’m feeling really great about that. I just try to stay busy and working and think of ways to better myself and my family. I am a Gangster and I am a Gentleman. I feel as you get older you tend to lean towards your gentleman side and try to figure out how to have less stress. My brand of stress is just figuring out how to succeed more and maintain a balance as a thinking man. If I don’t do more things than the previous year, I try to do more meaningful things.
DB: Any spiritual goals you’d like to attain?
SP: All the time; every day. I like to have good spirit. Positive energy makes positive things happen, Negativity makes negative things happen. I never try to tell anyone I’m 100% good or 100% bad. I just try to lean more towards the good (laughs). As you get older, you’ll see it and you’ll learn through experience and know to do more positive things.
DB: Any time frame for The LOX album?
SP: Not as of yet, We just dropped that Hood Cake freestyle. We got a couple more freestyles and a couple solid tracks.Kiss is slated to release his solo album first, Sheek as well. We all got something in the works.
DB:So I hear you are a sneaker connoisseur of some sorts?
SP: I’m not the “new” definition of a sneaker-head. I’m an old sneaker-head (laughs). I like Jordan’s(3’s, 8’s) and SB’s, definitely the old Barkley’s. If you came up in my era, every person was a “sneaker-head”, because either you wanted them or you tried to find ways where you could get them to be in.
DB:Favorite Gangster Movie?:
SP: Hard to say; because there are different gangster movies with different elements. I’d say Mobsters and Goodfellas for the camaraderie and group element. The Godfather for the boss element. I think The Godfather had a lot of characteristics of a Gangster and Gentleman. Its hard to say, it really depends on the time and whats going on. If had to say one, it would probably be True Romance….
DB: Dope flick….
The Dirty Bodega wants to give a shoutout to Styles P, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and the whole LOX/DBlock movement for the gesture. Be on the lookout for more in the future as well as review/write up of Juices For Life (1026 Castlehill Ave, Bronx, NY ).
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Juices For Life Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuicesForLife
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