Styles P: Supa Gangster Extraordinary Gentleman [Interview]
Yonkers, NY – Styles P has put up with more than his fair share of music industry bullshit but he knows, as the legendary Hank Aaron once put it, he’s got to keep on swinging regardless of the type of slump he finds himself in. I’m not even sure if he’s a baseball fan but Styles would be the first to agree that even when he’d hit them clear out the park [think records], he would never accumulate the type of importance at a major label that he felt was deserved –or better yet, needed. He had to cut through excessive amounts of red tape over at Interscope to get his sophomore album out, which was ironically titled Time Is Money, and after various delays, it saw lacklustre sales only moving a disappointing 45,000 copies with its first week on the shelf. It came as no surprise when he announced to his fans via MySpace that he had parted ways with the label and was a free agent.
It wasn’t long after that an announcement was made that S.P. would be taking the major indie route and signing a deal with KOCH Records. And, unlike the 4-year gap between his first and second album, he is set to release Supa Gangster Extraordinary Gentleman on December 4 th, less then a year after his Interscope release. The situation at Interscope has been a blessing in disguise of sorts for Styles, real name David Styles, who now has full creative control as well as the ability to determine when his fans are ready for another helping of official material. His latest single “Blow Ya Mind”, a Swizz Beatz produced banger, has been building huge anticipation for the album’s release and the video should be making its debut in the very near future. As you’ll see from the transcript below, Styles couldn’t be happier with his situation at KOCH and that sense of relief is longer overdue. He feels he is finally in a position where he can focus on his craft as an emcee and worry about the business as it comes to him. It’s a much different situation then being at Interscope where he wasn’t sure if his album would be coming out at all, let alone on schedule. So while Red Sox fans destroy the streets of Boston in celebration of their recent World Series victory, there’s definitely one New Yorker who was pleased with how the fall season has unfolded. Ok, enough with the baseball references. Seriously though, D-Block fans couldn’t be happier with the latest news surrounding the crew. Kiss’ year-old drug-and-gun charges were recently dropped and he signed a deal with Def Jam shortly thereafter. Sheek Louch is also set to drop on KOCH in the 1st quarter of 2008, followed by the long anticipated Lox album which has tentatively been titled Live, Suffer, Celebrate. The Yonkers trio has definitely come along way since the days of the “Free the Lox” campaign from around the turn of the century.
So Styles P is back again at HipHopCanada.com and we made sure to hit him up about the new album, where he stands with J-Hood after the chain dragging incident and of course, the progression that his label has made over the last year –amongst other things. As the Co-CEO of D-Block Records, S.P. The Ghost definitely stays busy but of course he found some time to touch base with his fans up north. Here’s how things went down:
Styles P: Q&A
Interview conducted by Jesse Plunkett for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Styles much respect for joining us here at HipHopCanada.com. Let’s get right into the new highly anticipated solo release you’ve got dropping December 4 th, Supa Gangster Extraordinary Gentleman. What that’s the biggest message you’re trying to put out there with that release?
Styles P: I am street hip-hop brother. That’s my biggest message with that one.
HipHopCanada: You mentioned in another recent interview that you’re confident that this project has left “one hell of a mark”. What sets your project apart from the rest dropping on the 4th?
Styles P: I don’t know about the rest of the projects because I ain’t hear them…yet. But mine is 100% soul, 100% street hip-hop, 100% good old fashion 90’s vibe. I ain’t got no gimmicks, no watered-down shit, no worries about no major industry shit. So I didn’t cut no corners, I just gave it my heart and soul.
HipHopCanada: How did you go about picking the beats for the project and was there particular people you want to get involved or was it more a case of whoever had the hottest production as oppose to the name?
Styles P: It was like the hottest shit but out of the people I fuck with. You know, like a bump from my man Alchemist, my man Divine, my man Vinny Idol –D-Block producer, Pete Rock, Hi-Tek, Dame Greese, Akon, Swizz and my man Poobs.
HipHopCanada: Has the “Blow Ya Mind” single featuring Swizz Beatz been received as well as you had hoped?
Styles P: Yeah, even better then I thought it would be. People are loving it, people are bumping it in cars everywhere. People are hitting me, they feel it, the streets are feeling it… I mean, you know, it’s a feel good song, a relaxed song… people are just digging it.
HipHopCanada: What will your second single be and when can we expect the video?
Styles P: Yeah, I’m not sure what the second single will be but you can definitely expect that soon, as soon as I make that decision. Let my ears be right and then I’ll make that decision. I ain’t make that decision yet to tell you the truth.
HipHopCanada: On your Gangster and a Gentleman you went extra personal with the “My Brother” a song a lot of people can relate to in more ways the one. It’s a heartfelt lamentation about the loss of your younger brother and it truly gives fans a perspective on the importance of family in your life. How important is the family core to you and do you have a strong relationship with them –aside from the crew. How much are they involved with your career?
Styles P: I mean family is more important than anything in life. Family is important than my crew, D-Block, my rap career anything… It’s the most important aspect of a person’s life. It’s family first for me and then business so the family has got to know what’s going on with the business.
HipHopCanada: Are there songs on the new album that are comparable to the amount of raw emotions that you poured into “My Brother”?
Styles P: I think about every song is pretty much raw emotion –even if it’s not specifically about topic there’s songs like “All I Know Is Pain” and “Green Piece of Paper”. Yeah, definitely giving it my heart and soul from my life as I see it. That whole album is like that, that’s how I feel.
HipHopCanada: Can you speak on your decision to part ways with Interscope and how you found your way on to KOCH?
Styles P: I mean, I didn’t think it was a wise decision for me to stay once I seen my second album wasn’t going to go good. I didn’t like how it went out, how the singles went or anything and I just didn’t see myself being successful a third time around. I didn’t even think I was coming out again at this time. I believe I released that December last year and here I am this December. I believe if I would of stayed there I wouldn’t be coming back at you this soon and I didn’t think I would be important. So, I felt it was time for me to move on and I felt that I’m a real important part when it comes to hip-hop, but maybe not so much in the industry, so I felt that I was better of in an independent situation… where I have some control over my life and there’s no middle man and it’s basically me and my team handling my situation.
HipHopCanada: How gratifying is it to cut out the middle man and essentially control your own destiny with an independent like KOCH?
Styles P: It’s a hell of a relief. Especially for a dude like me who is so hands on and I like to pretty much all the way hip-hop, you know what I mean? So it’s difficult when you’re dealing with the majors. But when you’re indie and you have your hands on yourself and you’re not working for someone, you’re working with someone and you’re dealing with them, it’s a totally different feeling involved.
HipHopCanada: No doubt. CD sales are declining across the board and the digital world seems to be the answer in terms of minimizing costs and maximizing exposure. What kind of steps are you taking or have you taken to stay competitive in the growing digital world and is this something you’ll be putting even more emphasis on?
Styles P: You know with that, I put that in my management’s hands and my company’s hands. We sit down all together, the family, D-Block, my management and I go build with KOCH, the distributor. You open up your own sites, you get your MySpace, you get your websites and get your little digital team on the side… and that’s how you handle that. But me, I’m more so and this album was more so, before I worried about any of that, just giving out good soul music to the fans no matter how they get. And no matter how they get it, I’m always going to survive and always going to be able to make more music because I have a dedicated fan base. You handle the art of it first, you have a good business team with you and then you step to that. I mean, you know the ringtones, websites… do all that shit and deal with people that really know computers. I’m kind of old school and old-fashioned so I’ve got to sit down and consult with the team for that. I’ve got a whole little team for that.
HipHopCanada: One of the more recent controversial topics surrounding D-Block is the departure of J-Hood and the disrespectful manner in which he went about doing it. Considering you were aware of his desire to part ways and were on good terms, did it…
Styles P: [Jumping in] I was aware. I spoke with him 2 weeks before he did all that shit and told him he could leave, it would be no problem, wished him the best of luck and it was all love. I mean, he did what he did –I believe he did it out of… to get publicity. I guess he just wanted to get some publicity and shit.
HipHopCanada: So if you guys on good terms did it catch you off guard when he started dragging the chain and all that…
Styles P: [Jumping in again] Yeah, that was real disrespectful and stupid. But it ain’t really catch me off guard. I mean, when you see certain things in a person’s character, you don’t get really get caught off by guard by certain actions.
HipHopCanada: Has there been any contact between the two of you since everything happened?
Styles P: Nah, I spoke with him before, like I said before the chain dragging incident but since then I haven’t spoken to him.
HipHopCanada: You’re known for a steady stream of mixtapes –do you think you’ll be slowing down on the mixtapes at all since you’ve already expressed interest in putting out official albums on a more consistent basis?
Styles P: Nope. It’s my way to vent. When I do it it’s me being an artist, me being an emcee. An emcee is a Master of Ceremonies. If you’re an emcee, and I am an emcee… I rhyme, you know what I mean? I do things for my fans that still appreciate me, let them know what’s coming. An album takes at least a year or 8 months and I think that’s too long for your fans to wait to hear you again. I’ve got to keep it consistent and show them I’m nice.
HipHopCanada: So that being said, break down latest release you put out with Big Mike called The Phantom Menace.
Styles P: Yeah, The Phantom Menace… that was just my warm up to the album to show you how the album is going to go, like the vibe on it. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be serious, it’s going to be lyrical and… it’s just what I do man. It’s just what I do. I’ve got to show at all times that I’m willing to tear any emcee a new asshole, at any given moment. Jedi Knight Masters, I don’t really fuck with the young puppies unless they jump out the window too much. Other than that… on hardcore tip, no one can fuck with me; at all! On the street shit, you know. They got it with the industry shit, and the fly shit and all that other shit but when it comes to the street shit, I mean, come on bro, I run shit.
HipHopCanada: The mixtape fiends already got their hands on The Phantom Menace so what should they be checking for next?
Styles P: You can look out for a D-Block mixtape with all the young boys. I don’t know what we’re going to name it but it’s going to be all the people that you heard on The Phantom Menace. We’re just going to be ventilating and murdering shit… murdering tracks. So, you know…
HipHopCanada: What about a next solo tape from The Ghost?
Styles P: Imma do that after do the crew thing first; can’t keep focusing on me, we’ve got a whole team over here. If you heard them on [Phantom Menace] we got my boy Bucky, he’s from out of Philly, my boy Bully, he’s from Y.O. right here, Large Amount, he’s from Y.O., A.P., he’s from Y.O., Team Arliss –Straw, Trav, that’s Brooklyn and The Bronx, Carolina boys Don-D and T.Y., that’s North Carolina/Y.O., and Reggaeton artist Chary Ary… I think he’s Bronx-Manhattan. So you know, we got a long list of emcees right here.
HipHopCanada: You’re known for a very street oriented and harder style of music but have also crossed over with mainstream success with features on Mariah and J. Lo singles. The same reason it’s to your benefit for reaching their audience is the same reason it’s to their benefit so I won’t ask why — I just want to know what’s next and if you have anything up your sleeve similar to those projects that people won’t be expecting?
Styles P: Nah, man. Right now I’m on my real 90’s shit to tell you the truth, man. I’m on my extra, hardcore hip-hop, you know what I’m saying? When the cheques right, and the cheques big –those are some great cheques. Other then that, right now I’m just looking to put out fire. I got a few joints with a few people. I ain’t really thinking about the big joints right now. We’re focusing on the street vibe right now. But I definitely got some joints coming out right now but I don’t want to let it out the bag. I want the people to hear it and kind of knock them off the feet and surprise them.
HipHopCanada: If you were being introduced to a listener for the first time and could only choose one song for them to listen to, what would it be?
Styles P: Wow, that was a fucking great question… that was a great question.
HipHopCanada: Thank you.
Styles P: Damn, that fucked me up, I don’t even know. [Thinking] Oh, yeah, I do… “I’m Black”. I think that’s the best song I ever made in my whole life.
HipHopCanada: Speaking of the Lox & D-Block, when can we expect the “Live, Suffer, Celebrate” album in the foreseeable future?
Styles P: I think we might switch the title, I’m not sure… we might not. I’m thinking probably the end of 2nd quarter. Kiss just signed to Def Jam, I’m pretty sure he’s coming out 1st quarter. Sheek is dropping in 1st quarter too on KOCH, Silverback Gorilla, Kiss – Kiss My Ass. We’re working on the Lox joint right now. We’ve got a whole bunch of songs and we’re working on 10 to 12 more. And then.. just have to pick which ones we want to throw out and go like that. If you hear The Phantom Menace or the new Clue tape, you’ll hear a new Lox song on there. Just to let you know it’s coming.
HipHopCanada: Can you tell us about the Gangster Chronicles DVD?
Styles P: That should be out in about a month or so. It’s me interviewing other rappers. You get to see how we live… and you get to see a rapper’s point of view from another rapper’s point of view. Cassidy, Jim Jones, Busta Rhymes, Swizz, Fat Joe, E-40, Baron Davis, all kinds of people… it’s a series of them.
HipHopCanada: Much respect for coming through Styles. Anything you want to close with? A message for your Canadian fans?
Styles P: December 4th, Supa Gangster Extraordinary Gentleman, cop it! Street hip-hop all the way. It’s real music, it’s real deep. Hold me down.
Editor’s note: For more information on Styles P and to download the new “Blow Ya Mind” single featuring Swizz Beatz, check out http://www.myspace.com/stylesp.
Written by Jesse “Dutchy” Plunkett for HipHopCanada