It’s been a little over a year since Ghost dropped his fourth studio album Master of Ceremonies, and after 13 short months, it’s clear that not much has changed in the mind of the veteran Yonkers rapper. He’s still the hardest dude in rap (try to name a competitor), and his fifth studio release is a quick reminder of how and why he’s earned that distinction over the years.

The World's Most Hardest MC is a brief, hard-bodied offering from, as the title suggests, an MC who has made it his business to stay gutter in the ever-softening climate of mainstream hip-hop. Clocking in at less than 30 minutes, the album is a return to “hard bars” (according to Styles on the album’s intro), and showcases the veteran MC’s distinctive ability to paint haunting pictures with vicious quotables that reassure you why Ghost is better than you and your favorite rapper combined. (Insert gun claps and roars, here.)

The beats are solid across the board. There aren’t many big-name producers on the record (with the semi-exception of AraabMUZIK), but the selection is, for the most part, on point. While there may not be any obvious radio-ready singles or instantly infectious street loops, the album definitely has its highlights. “Murder Mommy” tells the story of a set up involving a girlfriend and a few dozen kilos of cocaine over a smooth, hypnotic backdrop, where P emerges unscathed with the cash and the coke.

“Monopolizing” features one of the stronger instrumentals on the album from resident D-Block producer Vinny Idol, as well as contributions from teammates Bucky and Large Amount, plus a dope hook. (“Monopolizing, or how this game is being played/Every day I sit back and think if I should quit or stay/In many ways, this paper be calling, this is not a dream/I write rhymes to keep me from falling, tryin not to sleep.")

According to the "Outro," “He once thought about writing a wack rhyme, then removed that part of his brain.” This much seems to be true. P doesn’t take a verse off and his bars on this album are classic Ghost to the core. He is one of the most consistent artists in the game, and lyrically, the album is no departure from that fact. (“Yeah I seen it before/Niggas will kill you with the nina for raw/Mama singin’ Tina Turner tryna smile cuz we poor.”)

As hard as Styles’ bars are throughout, the album as a whole ends up sounding vaguely playful, perhaps because of the ill-conceived Sunday Night Football theme-sampled “Pop Out,” or perhaps because the already curt offering is bookended by an intro and an outro that are nearly identical plays on the instantly recognizable Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign. While they are definitely chuckle-worthy (the "Outro" more than chuckle-worthy), these may soften the album’s punch in some respects, but don’t carry enough weight to derail the record as a whole.

The World’s Most Hardest MC is everything it promises to be, and serves as a worthy addition to the catalogue of the world’s hardest rapper. Having few more tracks would have worked in Ghost’s favor, but the album reminds us of a sound that's classic in its own right. Ghost's formula remains relevant in a hip-hop landscape where hardcore rap is losing its place. Rugged beats and bars only Styles P can bring, and The World’s Most Hardest MC Project serves just that. With that said, Styles P's a master craftsman who clearly knows his artistic lineage. —Nick De Molina (@odmod)