At 38 years old, Styles P is one of the few New York millennium-era gangster rappers who have survived the times to remain relevant in 2013. Styles P was never the leading man in his heyday, and he’s not one now, but the man known as Paniro has been able to remain an East Coast mainstay by adapting effectively to the internet era in a way his peers couldn’t, and by refusing to settle for anything less than rock-hard bars and unmitigated gangster rap. On “Bodies in the Basement,” a cut off his newest album Float he raps, “To calm down, I need a bunch of weed/ Or I’ll crack ya head like a pumpkin seed.” Were you expecting anything else?
The subject matter of Float, a collaborative album with New York producer veteran Scram Jones, ranges from weed anthems to the colorful range of methods in which Styles will rob/embarrass/murder anyone who disturbs him (Whack rappers beware). He’s very much a gangster rap solider, persistent and uncompromising in his mission to deliver hardcore street rap, regardless of the changing tides of mainstream hip hop.
Scram Jones’ production is equally stubborn, which makes it a perfect match for the Ghost’s vocal presence. There are some beats that border on experimental though; “Red Eye” features a sample from Brooklyn-based new wave revivalist group Holy Ghost! and the album’s closer, “Screw Y’all”, could have easily been on Beyonce’s next record. On the latter, the hardest out somehow sounds right at home on the atmospheric Scram-produced track. But breaking new ground isn’t the intention of Float. Scram’s huge, drum-heavy production provides cohesion throughout and Styles excels in his comfort zone, spitting rude, boastful bars over big, grimy beats.
Clocking in at less than 45 quotable-stuffed minutes, Float is short and sweet, a quick reminder that The Phantom hasn’t lost a step lyrically. All in all, the project is a welcome addition to the D-Block rapper’s catalogue, though it’s narrow vision holds the album back from reaching any great heights. If anything, it’s assurance to longtime fans that Styles P isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, nor should he.