Styles P.: Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman)

Pulling from beats you’d find somewhere in the mid 90’s, Styles P’s Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) (Koch) plays out as a homage to the New York gangster rap era since lost in decadent 21st century Hip-Hop. Makes sense, right? After all, Styles has almost thirteen years under his belt, and a resume that includes hits with Diddy and an indelible membership in The LOX. But his third solo LP, sees itself playing out as a mix of hits and misses rather than all around consistent force.

The opener “Blow Ya Mind” is a lush club hopper calling for strobe lights and filled glasses as it busts with signature Swizz Beatz production. Glued together with a minimalist melody over a lighthearted rolling snare, “Da 80’s” brings it back to the basis of it all. Styles embodies the essential bare-boned rhythm and rap combo with lines like: “I don’t need a hook, I got lyrics.”

The Ray J featured “Let’s Go” captures the Bad Boy party lifestyle Styles once so appropriately ran with. The Ghost is at his best with “Green Piece Of Paper” though. The Alchemist produced track incorporates his trademark sound of somber synth notes and small hints of classic soul samples creating a perfect sonic backdrop for P to body. The chorus clearly explains Peniro’s grave train of thought when it comes to eating on the streets: “I lived my whole life for a green piece of paper (Fives) / Did some trife sh*t for a green piece of paper (Tens) / Did some hype sh*t for a green piece of paper (Twenties).” Collaborations with Ghostface (“Star Of The State”) and Beanie Sigel (“You Ain’t Ready For Me”) also up the ante.

But “Look @ Her” comes off as redundant; as it features a tired and lackadaisical hook carried over a Green Lantern beat with no frills. The Café Society produced “In It To Win It” plays the same tune, and “All I Know Is Pain” is a study in Styles’ ability to rhyme disjointed monosyllabically structured words together. Additionally the awkward guitar heavy “Holiday” slows the momentum with a draining chorus provided by pseudo Dipset crooner Max B.

The best is saved for last, as D-Block shows up for the Pete Rock produced “Gangster, Gangster” and Black Thought drops some introspection on “Because I’m Black.” While Super Gangster might be a nice addition to Styles’ already hardcore catalog, his gentleman behavior doesn’t make this accessible enough to the civilians who just want to listen to Rap without their life being threatened.