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Styles P, Master of Ceremonies

Styles P is as hard as it gets. Even though he hasn’t repeated the mainstream success of his first single, 2002’s “Good Times,” in his near decade and a half in the game, the gimmick-free purveyor of hard-hitting rhymes has become regarded as one of its most well-respected vets. Four years removed from his last official album, 2007’s Super Gangster, Extraordinary Gentleman, Styles has been dropping several mixtapes and quietly appearing on one of last year’s biggest songs, Rick Ross’s “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).” Now, with the release of his fourth studio album, fittingly titled Master of Ceremonies, SP the Ghost again reminds why he earned the moniker as The Hardest Out.

The ceremony kicks off with the gully “We Don’t Play,” a street-savvy New York cut alongside G-Unit’s self-proclaimed Punch Line King, Lloyd Banks. The Ghost wastes no time, as he callously roars, “Ghost is apocalypse/Hole in your esophagus/Run through your shit like a motherfucking rhinoceros.” Providing the raspy hook and a verse, Banks dishes out corner boy lines of his own, rapping, “Left hand on the whip, other one on the draw,” before reminding, “Small money, tall money, nigga we want it all.”

In characteristic fashion, SP keeps it rough and rugged on the mellow “I’m A Gee,” with the opening line, “Most of us coming from a broken home,” before later, boastfully spitting “Ghost never on that swag shit.” It’s bars like these that, in many ways, encapsulate why he’s been able to achieve his revered status over time. Through the trends that have come and gone in the last fifteen years, The L.O.X. member has stayed true to himself and his community, often kicking a narrative that balances a socially aware search for a better tomorrow with a hustler’s understanding of the realities of today—which he again shows on the stick-it-out anthem “Keep The Faith.”

The Yonkers native is also standout in his also ability to take average lines and give them life with his spirited delivery, like on the light keys of the Araab Muzik-produced “Ryde On Da Regular,” where he snaps, “You the prey/I’m the predator!” Thanks to his ferocious, no-nonsense flow, a simple line becomes hard as hell.

Later, the serene sample-laden Statik Selektah produced “Feelings Gone” and the turbulent Busta Rhymes and Rick Ross-featured “Harsh” recertify Styles’s skills next to big names.

There are a few surprises on the 12-track album, including appearances from Pharrell on “Don’t Turn Away” and Pharoahe Monch on the introspective “Children.” Despite a loaded list of features and the underwhelming Avery Storm-assisted “How I Fly,” Master of Ceremonies exhibits more wins than duds. Holiday certainly lives up to the album’s title. —Ralph Bristout

  • The Ghost

    This album is just nastyyyyyyyyyyyyy. It’s some banana’s, I thought the Green Ghost Project was hard. One of the better ones to come out recently.

    • Scrilla

      Yeaa Green Ghost Project Was Deffly A Banga!! Still Bangin Since 4Q 09!! But This Shit Serious 2!!

  • RONALD

    definitely one of the best to ever do it. those my niggas. felt Kiss so deeply when he rapped “alot of niggas wana be kiss-and/believe that if BIG was alive alot of shit’ll be diff-rent. They still holding they own in the game. Gangster and a Gentleman one of the best solo albums to come out in the 2000s. Still one wonder Jimmy and them fags never pushed “LISTEN” for a single. some deep shit from the Ghost. my nigga. no bootleg on this one! #REAL COPY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kenny

    GANGSTER AND A GENTLEMAN IS ONE OF THE ILLEST MOST SLEPT ON ALBUMS OF 2000S.

  • stan

    Give it up to the HARDEST OUT … sp the ghost back on his shiitt!!! cant no one hold the torch to dis man. LOX FOR LIFE

  • SDK

    GREAT ALBUM, IS 4,5 OF 5 , NO DOUBT.

  • http://XXXLREVIEW PHAT MONC

    SP THE GHOST WAT DUP WAT DUP…..AYOOO SCREAM AT YA BOY PHAT MONC N OKC YOOO KEEP KEEPN DA SHT HOOD MY NIGGA!$$!

  • B-Flat88

    One of the top 10 rap albums of 2011

  • mk

    Green Ghost Project was fire. This album, im serious, was mediocre. Dont get me wrong, I love SP, but this wasnt up there with Gangster and Gentleman and Green Ghost on Beats level.

  • ti2s

    good shit… but still i expected more from styles: there where some so massive mixtapes since super gangster. his flow is unstoppable as usual, but the beats not as remarkable as they should. all together im satisfied: my favorite rapper’s favorite rapper is still real for almost 20 yrs now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    keep up Ghost! NEVA CHANGE!