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Styles P: Testify

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If you analyze and study the game there is a serious void in Hip-Hop. Back in the day there was more artistic credibility in the music. On the average, you had a greater percentage of MC’s that could actually spit and didn’t vanish off the map after one album. Taking that into consideration, there are very few who have been rocking for more than ten years and are still considered one of the hardest on the streets. Add Styles P to that list. A founding member of seminal New York group The LOX, Styles Paniro has been putting the drama on wax since the early 90’s. From there the man born David Styles would experience the ups and downs of the game. To rocking with the late Notorious B.I.G. during Bad Boy’s reign and fighting the inevitable industry contractual rape, he has clearly put his time in.  With his third album Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman via Koch on deck, we finally get The Ghost’s entire story. He speaks offering respect, but clearly the code of cobras is still very much in effect.AllHipHop.com: Who was Styles P before the deal?Styles P: A kid with a mother from Africa coming up in the hood doing what he got to do to survive, a real smart kid. Real talented in junior high, got kicked out though.  I went to three different junior high schools, working stock jobs, selling drugs, doing anything I could to get a buck. You got to understand I was twelve years old in the hood and I had a moms from Africa, so she wasn’t really up on copping Nikes and sh*t. In ‘86 I get into selling crack. At first I used to just bag up and make money off that. Then we got our own sh*t. I was mad young, and had our own block with our own product. While I’m pumping I’m working at a job; just doing everything I got to do. Sheek and Kiss were really polished. I was good in the street but I wasn’t good in the booth. It was like they were EPMD and I was Redman. But then I guess from being together all the time 24/7 I progressed as an MC.   AllHipHop.com: What was your first time meeting B.I.G. like?  Styles P: It was a pleasure meeting B.I.G. We met and we flowed and that ni**a was like, You nice. He was a humble dude. It was crazy; whoever was our man he treated like he was his man; he was a real embracing dude. He had a love for the art. He respected ni***s that could rap. B.I.G. was an MC so he only respected nice ni**as. He didn’t respect ni**as who weren’t nice.  AllHipHop.com: Did The LOX start working on Money, Power & Respect immediately after signing?Styles P: I think we started right away. We did “You’ll See” and “Ni**as Done Started Something” and all kind of mixtape sh*t. We were working as soon as we came through the door. We got right at it.AllHipHop.com: Did you ever bump heads with Puff artistically early on?Styles P: It be some sh*t like, Damn, with the rhyming. He’ll be like that ain’t it and as an MC you know that’s it! I think that was our only problem. We were from two totally different worlds at that time. He’s from that big money hustle world and we on some hustle sh*t too but on some outsider sh*t. It was a clash of identities.  AllHipHop.com: One of the LOX’s best freestyles is the one you guys did with B.I.G. over the “C.R.E.A.M.” beat.  How was the session for that joint?Styles P: Mad liquor mad smoke and we went in. We would go to his sessions, he would go to ours. It was incredible. Sitting in there for the Life After Death sessions I can’t even explain to you. To watch that man work was f*cking incredible, it was mad Bacardi Limon, mad weed, mad mayonnaise jars and all of that. To tell you the truth I never seen B.I.G. roll a blunt and I never seen him drive. B.I.G. was a mobster for real.  He was smooth, and fly; he was the king of the city for real. I remember some times waking up, everybody in the session f***ed up and I would see B.I.G. nodding his head hard and everyone out! He was going in, it was incredible.  AllHipHop.com: After B.I.G. was murdered in Los Angeles, did Puff ever come to you and ask not to talk to the police about the murder?  Styles P: We were no where near Puff at the time. We had a problem with Puff at the time. We f*cked with B.I.G. heavy. Once he was gone we weren’t chilling with Puff, we had a problem with him.  AllHipHop.com: So after B.I.G. passes Puff and MA$E drop their solos and pop off heavy.  The Lox release Money, Power & Respect.  What kind of reception where you getting in the streets when it dropped?Styles P: I think a lot of people wanted to hear more mixtape sh*t, but we got a lot of love from that album too. That album was classic, I love that album. It was just that we didn’t do the album we wanted. We wanted to do We Are The Streets the first time. We respected his vision and did what he wanted [us] to do.  AllHipHop.com: So you’re even cool with joints that were more commercial like “If You Think I’m Jiggy”?Styles P: Hell yeah. That joint is knocking. I could do that right now at a show and people would party to it, straight up. Mad joints on there that were sick. All the solos on there were sick.AllHipHop.com: Were the streets looking at you guys funny because of the shiny suits?Styles P: Nah, nobody was talking about the shiny suits until we flipped! Nobody was mad at that at the time. It was part of the industry. We weren’t with that.  AllHipHop.com: So when did things start to get tense between The Lox and Bad Boy?Styles P: I don’t really recall to tell you the truth. Like me I think I was the one that always had the problem. I was just uncomfortable. If I don’t like something I’m going to say. I was always the most ignorant off scratch.  AllHipHop.com: Is it true you threw a chair at Puff during one of your meetings trying to get out of your deal with Bad Boy?Styles P: No doubt. I was just frustrated on how things were going down. AllHipHop.com: Who was in the meeting?Styles P: Puff and his security were in the meeting. Us three, I think Dee from Ruff Ryders and a couple of other people. It was just instinct. I was like you’re not going to let us off [the label]? I was like f*ck that you going to let us off. The chair didn’t hit him, it missed him the by the skin of his teeth. I hurt my ankle throwing the chair I was so mad.  I got up and twisted it.  My ni**as hemmed me up. I had the thing on me at the time.AllHipHop.com: Ya’ll started the “Let The Lox Go” campaign soon after correct?  Did you think it was going to be embraced in the streets so heavy?Styles P: Hell no. I didn’t expect sh*t. I always knew [we] had the streets. We were some new ni**as on some old school sh*t. A lot of people don’t know but Yonkers is a real MC place. If you say you rap you got to be able to hold it.    AllHipHop.com: You get your walking papers from Bad Boy. Do you think Diddy did The Lox dirty by asking for three million dollars and slices of each member’s publishing?Styles P: They ain’t really do us dirty is what the world don’t know. That’s what the whole world don’t know. They did us what you supposed to do when you sign a contract like, to the contract we signed. We signed the standard industry contract. We didn’t sign nothing that other muthaf*ckers didn’t sign, we just wasn’t happy with it. The standard industry contract is literally rape. Mad ni**as just wont tell you that because they making money, they big time, they hustlers, but we had probably what the average artist out had around that time. That’s why if you look back in the books of how many ni**as wanted to be let go of their contract and how much sh*t went down after that on some many different labels and so many places up to this day, you understand what we were saying. We just had the balls to go, Yo, we from the f*cking place where we don’t give a f*ck, nobody really gives a f*ck, we’ve been f*cked up before, we know how to be f*cked up getting money [and] we’ll do it again. I just think we had the balls. It wasn’t rape, even what we signed is what we signed. It was standard in the industry, but you as an artist and as a man should know your worth and that you should be getting more than that, so it’s renegotiation time. Usually with renegotiation you sign a contract, it’s standard and you get to get more sh*t as you sell more and as you renegotiate. So if you don’t get to do that though, you stuck in that zone. Now if you don’t know how to finagle your way out or figure out how to get up out of there or fight for your rights or just say f*ck it I’m not having that…then you are going to get caught up in that. I think we just had enough nerves to say nah man f*** all of that.AllHipHop.com: So you don’t think the three million and the publishing rights was excessive?Styles P: Everything is excessive when you sign something. It is what it is, if there’s a thousand ni**a’s before us who signed something the same and there a thousand muthaf*ckers after us who signed something the same right? You think we signed a different contract from any other artist over there or any other artist in the industry at that time?AllHipHop.com: You leave Bad Boy and run with Ruff Ryders who is the number one label that year. Can you describe that time?Styles P: Great because we held ourselves down with mixtapes, we had the hood in a headlock. To tell you the truth at that time I was thinking if I can make a few dollars I would be aight because I knew what to do with a few dollars. That was my mind state at that time. AllHipHop.com: So The LOX start recording We Are The Streets, did you feel that you had to prove yourselves?Styles P: We were hot on the mixtapes; we knew no one was hotter than us on the streets. We were different kinds of dudes. We were doing it for the average dude who loved it and was in the hallway with his little hundred pack playing his radio. We knew who we were doing it for, we knew who loved us. Ni**a’s seen us in The Tunnel deep with no security, if it goes it goes.  AllHipHop.com: Speaking of The Tunnel, is it true you guys where the cause for the club being shut down for life?Styles P: We shut down that sh*t. We were the last show there, we the reason it’s shut. You know someone got popped. That wasn’t our fault, it’s just the energy be like that when we in there. That’s how it was.AllHipHop.com: So in 2000 Jadakiss and Beans get into it.  Who do you think had the better record?Styles P: I thought it was a tie. Both ni**as went hard.  AllHipHop.com: You then get pulled into it and you go at Roc-A-Fella hard on the freestyle you did on Ray-J’s “Wait A Minute” beat.Styles P.: I was just feeling like I know I’m the hardest on the streets. I came to reality that ni**as had me on that fly sh*t, that slick sh*t. I think I just woke up one day and knew ni**as couldn’t f*ck with me on the street sh*t. I lived this sh*t, I know these ni**as don’t live that sh*t because they scared. I came into the game with a dope charge, a gun charge, an assault charge. I’ve been through it.  AllHipHop.com: There was a rumor saying you had said something foul about Aaliyah after she died in one of your rhymes during that whole beef. Styles P.: That was crazy. I would of never said that, I have to many dead people and a respect for dead people to say that.  AllHipHop.com: You drop your solo debut A Gangster And A Gentleman; you supposedly where the only member of the group that recouped any money off their solo projects?Styles P.: I guess I was really business minded right after the Puff sh*t. People knew me for being so street, they didn’t expect me to be so business wise. I really wanted to go independent is what everyone doesn’t know with my first album. I could have gotten out of my contract with Interscope but it would have been a two year hold. At the time I was putting in heavy mixtape work.  AllHipHop.com: What’s the big hold up with a new LOX album?Styles P: I think us knowing the game and knowing what we can get off of it. And then we not having the publishing straight. We been running, running, and running but giving someone else the money.  AllHipHop.com: You went on the radio and had a heated exchange with Diddy about him still holding your publishing.Styles P: We weren’t up there to do that. We had a plan to get off from Interscope, but what’s the point of getting off Interscope if you don’t own all your publishing?AllHipHop.com: How did the meeting with Diddy go when you did meet up with him?Styles P: Great. I love Puff. He didn’t have to do what he did.  AllHipHop.com: How did you feel about when Jadakiss threw DJ Green Latern under the bus by having him on speakerphone?Styles P: I didn’t cosign that. I felt both of them could have handled it differently. When you know someone personally you know they could of dealt with it another way.AllHipHop.com: Time Is Money finally comes out but after getting pushed back several times. How do you feel about that album now?Styles P: I love Time Is Money but I ain’t love when it came out.  If it would of came out before it leaked, that sh*t would of f*cked the world up.  AllHipHop.com: Where do you stand with the J. Hood situation?Styles P: He was going to be off the label before he started doing all that dumb sh*t. He should of used his brain. We will let him off but he got to come speak to us first.  Make a public apology the same way he went on the Internet and acted like a f*cking buffoon with the dragging of and disrespecting of the chain.  Tell him to get on the Internet and make it nice and humble and he’ll be right off.  AllHipHop.com: What can your hardcore fans expect with the new album Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman?Styles P.: They can expect it. That’s what I got going on, it. Fire, I got fire man. I got a real 90’s vibe, I got extensive bars. I got Hi-Tek, Alchemist, Swizz, Kid Capri, Ghost Face, Beanie, Black Thought. It’s epic. I think this [is] better than my first, I think this is my best work to date. I feel how I felt on my first album but way more advanced.  Smarter, intelligent, more potent, more raw; I can’t wait for the street date.  Not for the sales, but I just want people to listen. You could put the top five MC’s out today in a room and they couldn’t f*ck with me.

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