TRACKING SHOTS: Styles P

Whether it be promoting his latest project, Phantom Gangster Chronicles Vol. 1, bigging up the merits of juice bars, working on a book or assuring that a new LOX album is definitely on the way, Styles P gets it in. By now you should be at least a little familiar with the Yonkers product who always rides for his D-Block team and steadily disarms the uninitiated with his solid business sense and street sharpened intelligence. The bare knuckles bars don’t hurt either. The Phantom Gangster Chronicles is split between a CD of rare treats while the DVD finds SP in interviewer mode, building with individuals like Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire), E-40, Jim Jones and Baron Davis. Here we ask the questions and as per “Tracking Shots” policy we played Styles some joints and had him speak on their merits. The Ghost with the most didn’t disappoint.Jungle Brothers “Straight Out the Jungle” (Idlers/Warner Brothers)Styles P: [rapping] “Cause I’m a Jungle Brother, a true blue brother, and I been to many places you’ll never discover.”That just really reminds me of seeing somebody taking it to a different twist and throw culture on it.  Back then I was like, “Wow.” ‘Cause everybody else was doing the gold chain, this that, this and that. Then you see somebody with the Africa emblem, the camouflage suits, ya know, talking that s**t. That album was crazy to me too. Straight Out the Jungle was bananas. AllHipHop.com: At that point where you thinking seriously about being an MC?Styles P: Definitely. Definitely at that stage. That meant a lot to me, my heritage. My mom’s from South Africa and all that so with me that just hit home. Herb Alpert “Rise” (A&M)AllHipHop.com: D-Dot obviously flipped that for Biggie’s “Hypnotized” while “All About the Benjamins” was also hitting around that time. What was that period like?Styles P: That s**t was almost like damn near a living movie for us, for me, Sheek and Kiss. You living the dream. You taking it somewhere that ain’t been took for people in your hood and somewhere you always thought about and what you worked hard to get to being. Bad Boy was like playing for the Chicago Bulls at the time. Three kids from Yonkers, who spit hard, been spittin’ for a minute, that was coming a long way. That was like saying, “Yeah we know we talented, this is what we do.” We know this is why we here. AllHipHop.com: Any particular memory of B.I.G. that’s special to you?Styles P: The studio times I would say. Just being in the studio with B.I.G. Watching him work. To me B.I.G. was the ultimate classy gangster. It was just from the way he carried his self. It was certain s**t that he did and how he moved to me that made him so different from everybody else. I never seen him roll up—smoked like crazy—I never seen him roll a blunt. I seen when everybody else is tired and passed, he just sittin’ there going in on the beat. He ain’t have no reason to treat our homeboys like they was cool, besides us. That was something that always stood out. He treated our mans, whoever was with us, like fam too. That’s a class act. The Lox f/ Mase & Puffy “If You Want It” (Bad Boy)Styles P: Steely Dan sample…AllHipHop.com: Yeah, this record was playing everywhere when it dropped. This was one of y’all first Bad Boy records right?Styles P: It was up there. It was definitely in the beginning. Yeah, you could say that. AllHipHop: Y’all from Y.O. and spit hard but on this record, and others like “If You Think I’m Jiggy” it was toned down. Was that something hard to do?Styles P: I don’t think it was hard to do because it was like, I mean…I guess the word, I don’t want to say that but it’s like we was using our swag back then. We was just cool using our style. Toning it down but getting fly with it. We was saying s**t that n****a wasn’t saying. We was left field. We came in the game with our own rap style that f**king exists to this day. AllHipHop.com: What’s up with a proper Lox album? It’s been since ten years since y’all dropped We Are The Streets.Styles P: After Kiss’ joint. Just waiting for Kiss to finish up. We working and that’s it. AllHipHop.com: What’s been the hold up?Styles P: Timing, label stuff and we just want to get it all set up right and proper. And money too. You gotta think we all got careers. For me to just up and say let’s do The Lox joint while Sheek was doing his project would have been crazy for him to do ’cause he was in the middle of doing his s**t and getting his bread. Vice versa with me and vice versa with Kiss. So we said let’s get all three of them out the way then after that we could sit there and focus on the Lox joint.  So then we could all be on the road together too. Be able to catch a tour. Make sure all the music is crazy. The Lox “If You Think I’m Jiggy” Video50 Cent “Back Down” (Aftermath/Shady/Interscope)AllHipHop.com: So this is the joint where 50 Cent gives The Lox a compliment [I’m the hardest from New York, my flow is bonkers, all the other hard n****s, they come from Yonkers.”]. How did you feel when sometime later he’s beefing with y’all?Styles P: [singing along] It’s the business. I mean he came into the game doing that kind of s**t so, to me, whatever. Me, I never  really look at anything with any rapper as far as taking it personal. Besides Beans. I think Beans is the only s**t that I probably ever took to heart. Other than that, it’s whatever to me. I never knew the dude. So when he did that [“Back Down”], that was cool. That was like, Aight. ‘Cause we liked the kid, he got style, he got character, he reppin’ for the hood, so that’s what up.But when you get big, you get in a different position and you doing other s**t. You know how s**t goes. It’s the business, man. I’m from the streets.  I done known n****s my whole life and had beef with somebody from down the block that I knew my whole life, that’s just how s**t goes sometimes. You get hype at first, once you get over the ego part… In the beginning you jump on it cause your egos in the way, but after that…AllHipHop.com: Why was the beef with Beans personal?Styles P: We knew Beans. I liked Beans. AllHipHop.com: Yeah, when we spoke to Beanie Sigel about it he had nothing but respect for y’all and said steel sharpens steel.Styles P: I love Beans. That’s my n***a right now. The reason I said that was because he was the only person that I liked. As far as I knew him, I smoked with him, I chatted with him, that was my n***a. Back Down – 50 CentSoul II Soul “Jazzie’s Groove” (Virgin)Styles P: That was my s**t right there kid. That s**t be blowing every time I think about how she [Do’Reen Waddell] died. She was running across the street and got hit by a car. That just brings me back in time. That was one of the first [albums] I personally brought that wasn’t Hip-Hop around that time period. It was coming into that s**t, like Guy, s**t like that. We still had good music other than rap that was still knocking that you could play in the car and on the radio. It was R&B, it was UK, but it was f**king Hip-Hop to the death.Soul II Soul – Jazzie’s GrooveAllHipHop: So, Phantom Gangster Chronicles, why this current mixtape CD/DVD project now?Styles P: The DVD mixtape. It ain’t mainly for the mixtape, it’s mainly for the DVD. It’s important to find other avenues, find other lanes. I think what’s even more important in this day and age is for people to get real information. I felt like an artist can ask another artist some s**t maybe he don’t want to answer to another dude, he might be able to get into a little more depth. Like, I want to do your job too. It intrigues me what’s going on in an MC’s mind and how an artist lives cause being an artist I know the s**t is difficult. It’s difficult being a dad and an artist, s**t gets real. I’m just finding other angles to pinpoint and ask artist s**t. And besides that, show the youth that artist think differently. Some people always want to portray the artists as gangsta, rich, a star, whatever. Like you coming with some different s**t. It ain’t the same, “Yo, what’s up with your new Benz?!” That s**t is corny. N****s pulling out guns on DVDs, we don’t want to see that. I’m asking s**t like, “Who’s your gansta influence in your life, who’s a positive role model in your life, who’s a negative role model in your life, what made you you today, what are you doing after you drop your kids off?” Just far left s**t. AllHipHop.com: So what would you say is your biggest influence in your life, in general?Styles P: I think my biggest influence in life is the struggle. The struggle of man alone, that my biggest influence in life, to make it. For those who were my influential people; Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, the average busdriver, the average mom, the average MC trying to make it. My influence in life is struggle and just trying to persevere and maintain and get over and hold you and yours down. That’s what influences me every day to get up and make rhymes and try to do better myself. My whole s**t revolves around struggle. AllHipHop.com: With the economy moving the way it is now, how do you see things going? Styles P: I think everything goes in cycles. I think it’ll go up, I think it’ll go down. I think it’ll be good times, I think it’ll be bad times. I think maybe it’s meant to be bad times cause there ain’t no good music. I think different. With me it’s how the big man plays it. It’s the chemistry of the earth. There’ll be good angels floating around, there’ll be demons floating around. It’s how you choose to see it. Use your third eye and move on s**t.    It goes back to what I said; struggle. I think struggle will bring people closer. I think struggle makes good music come out. I think struggle makes people get sharper. I think struggle makes the young people come out to vote. We giving a f**k on what’s going to happen in the future. When we was coming up we knew it was going to be Reagan or Bush, it just was what it was. We ain’t give a f**k to go out and try to switch it up, but now you see a big difference.

Related Stories