AllHipHop.com: Many consider A Gangster and a Gentleman a classic. Would you agree?
Styles: If the streets say it, I'm riding with it. That album was a challenge for me. They were like "He's good with the Lox, he's hot on mixtapes, but can he make an album?" I know they didn't expect me to do as good as I did. And I felt stupid because I went to jail and I could have done better. Everybody loves me because I'm underrated; "You that n***a and you don't know it. You that n***a but you underrated." I'm good with that, because somebody realizes it. If I'm the hardest on the streets then I'm good. I did what I came to do. Now I'm going to the next level. I wanna make songs that pop in other categories and go in other n***as lanes. Get 'em scared.
AllHipHop.com: I hear you. You speak about not using a pen or pad when you freestyle or make songs. What's the process like? Briefly take us into the studio...
Styles: The process is blunts. Being in the zone and reading. I read often, think a lot, watch good movies not just gangster s**t, and just life. Regular day-to-day basis, I got a lot of s**t on my mind. I got a lot to say.
Really the no pen and pad s**t, I'm not going to front like it's a special thing. But since a youth, I've always had an off-beat/on-beat flow. So it's kind of difficult for me to read off the paper and catch my flow. I'd always have a problem since I was smaller reading off the paper. I've been doing this since I was seven - rhyming. I had difficulty getting my bounce off, so I said f**k paper. Anybody can do it. It's like an actor remembering his lines, who keeps saying the lines in his head until he gets it. Sometimes I come with verses; I don't know where it came from. To tell you the truth, I just be zoning out in the studio, going in.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of your music hits home. Have you ever shed a tear in the studio?
Styles: S**t yeah. Hell yeah. Making "My Brother" [and] "I'm Black" was kind of difficult. It was emotional because I knew it was a big risk. It made me cry way after the song was out 'cause of how they wasn't playing it. One day, I sat and just broke down. It's crazy. The most gangster n***a they always criticize, Hip-Hop [fans and] the critics... And here you have the hardest n***a doing it, and they won't play it. Sometimes you can't win.
AllHipHop.com: Let's talk about tracks for a minute. What was behind "The Key" off of Ghost In The Machine?
Styles: Sometimes, I just say what I wanna say. A lot of times, I won't say a verse, because I'll feel that they won't know what I'm talking about or understand where I'm coming from. My man Vinny made the beat. I was just saying what I thought was the key. I was breaking down how I survive and how I stay strong and what the key is for me. I be in another realm sometimes. Sometimes life is good. But most of the times it's f**ked up out here. Life is deep.
AllHipHop.com: It seems like you and Jada be having fun with the whole G-Unit parody. The "Ms. Jackson" joint being a good example
Styles: As far as business, I respect 50. On the real tip, he did something n***as haven't done in years. He capitalized and I think he's a very intelligent businessman. But I'm outside. You see where I'm at. I'm here by myself, Harlem, The Juice Bar; this is what I do on a daily. I'm all over in the streets... For any one of these n***as to get one up on me, you gotta do this. Not to say that you didn't do it before, but if you want to talk about it you gotta do it now. You can't s**t on me when I do this, and you made it and you don't do this. You might have done it, but you don't do this. I put my s**t on the line everyday out the door. And it's not because I'm ignorant... If I had made if off bricks, acting, construction or whatever, I would have still had to know them n***as where I'm from. These n***as aint making me run and hide 'cause I got on a Jacob watch. I came in a nice car. I got whatever in my ear, my ring, or my chain. If it's in my hand, it's in my hand. But I carry myself as a man and I do what I gotta do when I gotta do it. So don't start disrespecting a n***a who does that, especially in the game.
AllHipHop.com: Unfortunately, we've seen hyped up drama play out in a very negative way. As a man, how do you keep everything in check so it doesn't get out of hand?
Styles: If we felt it was dangerous or worth dying for we wouldn't have been rapping. If I'ma beef with a n***a and I feel like it's gonna pop off or go down, then we aint even gonna rap if it's that serious. You know where n***as is from, so no conversing' and all that.
With the Beanie s**t, after awhile that had to stop cause that's a n***a who be in the streets, we some n***as who be in the streets, so sooner or later these bullets is gonna fly, and is it really worth it? Cause we knew him, and we was cool with him, we knew their repertoire and they knew ours. Fortunately, we didn't see each other for dumb long. That must have been Allah's will. He's one of the n***as we gotta respect in the game and show love for, cause he's hard and he spits that s**t. But at the time when it was beef, do you think if we would have seen each other somewhere at a party, mishaps.... That was a rap beef but it wasn't no rap beef.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you perform at the I Declare War concert?
Styles: Why not? It wasn't for the paper, it was for the love. Me personally, as an MC, I respect Nas' and Jay's work. Regardless of what we went through with the Roc before, we're grown men. I come from a place where we go through disputes over many things much deeper than that. I've been through a lot and I've seen people that I've done things to and that have done things to me. I see them on the streets and I can let it go. Small s**t like rap s**t, I can let go. It was a beautiful concert to me because those were two of the best of our time. To know that you could possibly hear a song from them, that's strong and positive. To be able to say "I can put this to the side," that's being a man. I respect men. Some people don't understand it, knock it and say that it's corny, but I respect it.
AllHipHop.com: Should they still name a mixtape award after you?
Styles: S**t yeah. Hell yeah. God bless Justo, rest in peace. But they don't do it like I do it though. I hate to say it, but when I do it, it's a problem. They're still talking about Ghost In The Machine and that came out a lot of months ago. Wait 'til you hear the new one. Wait 'til you get a load of me. It'll probably be out in a couple of weeks. And I got my young boys on it this time, some new D-Block soldiers: Team Arliss, Carolina, T Juan and Don D, Snyp Life, Bully from 354 and Buckie from Philly.
AllHipHop.com: Is it still safe to say that you're everybody's favorite rapper's favorite rapper?
AllHipHop.com: Why wouldn't you want to just be everyone's favorite rapper?
Styles: I'm good. I argue with n***as in my hood sometimes. They come to me like "Yo this n***as coming for your head." Them n***as either love me or they scared of me. N***as can't f**k with me. Maybe in four or five years, but right now you know who got the most street credibility in New York. No one but The Ghost. You can say what you want, but they don't do it like I do it. I don't come with a bunch of n***as, no security, I don't need nobody. I'll go anywhere, do anything, I'm well respected and my rap sheet is ridiculous. Yall bullsh*ttin', reliving your older brother and cousin's story. I live this. I'm the artist out in Cali looking for chronic, that crippy and kush. I'm not the n***a without his homies in the hotel room with security. I'm built everywhere I go.