Styles P – Master of Ceremonies | Album Review

Arguably the most revered group of the late ’90s and beyond, Yonkers’ The LOX lyrically (and at times physically) shook the competition into submission. With each of the members playing their part – Jadakiss being the franchise and Sheek Louch the street general – it was Styles P who somewhat surprisingly managed to stand comfortably on the fine line between critical acclaim and hood props. With albums touching the nerves of a college kid, activist or gang member, Pinero, in some peoples eyes, was the real gem of the group instead of the much lauded Kiss. With rap now being dictated by the more emotional of rappers, Master of Ceremonies aims to inject that rough house, honest dialect with which Styles P has reigned.

Possessing the most dominant tones out of the New York trio, SP the Ghost has always been an emcee who commands attention whenever rhyming. So it’s more than appropriate that on Master of Ceremonies the rapper towers over each guest on a track. When hooking up with his musical brothers (Sheek Louch on ‘Street Shit’ and Jadakiss on ‘Its OK’) the Ruff Ryder vet digs deep to conjure up classic performances akin to his days as a Ryder. Whilst the heavy handed ‘Street Shit’ is clearly the better of the two collabs, P still provides enough to ensure his pairing with ‘Kiss doesn’t fall too short of their previous hookups, as their familiar ‘I rhyme-you rhyme’ structure still works, regardless of the computer malfunction-like production.

Styles P’s approach to Master of Ceremonies is as one where he focuses on being more the emcee than the previous street soldier motif he’s become respected for. Hopping onto more traditional beat patterns – courtesy of Black Saun, Phonix and more, P shows that there is some skill behind the intense demeanour – a feat many hood rappers have still yet to master. Coming together once again with Rick Ross as well as the ever going Busta Rhymes on “Harsh” produces a certified future hood favourite, even if Busabuss’ ramblings on the chorus will raise a few eyebrows.

What is already evident is that P’s fourth solo offering is crammed with a whole host of guest spots that it’s hard to even muster how many tracks he embraces alone. Unfortunately it is only on two of the 12 tracks where Styles is free from any additions, and although this trend has been consistent since his Gangster and a Gentleman LP the overload of names on hand takes away some of the extra impact which guest spots are supposed to bring as well as taking some of the attention away from P. Although the link up with G-Unit’s Lloyd Banks on “We Don’t Play” is a solid joint, songs such as “How I Fly” featuring Avery Storm are blatant attempts for radio airplay and result in efforts which could easily have been left off the album.

Having said that, material wise Pinero isn’t as frivolous with his chosen topics as they mostly stem closer to the frustrations and questioning of life’s pangs. “Feelings Gone” is a mellow extract of his graft, with its message further emphasised by a wistful Statik Selektah instrumental. The one track in which the Ghost is joined by two legends results in a standout moment; “Children,” which is produced by Pete Rock and features wordsmith extraordinaire Pharaoh Monch, takes on the topic of the future generation – lyrically denouncing their quick use of violence ways aswell as their over-reliance on social media and more, as the duo come off sounding more like mentors than grumpy old men.

For all the focus of sales and meeting label demands in music today, Styles P continues to represent the small clutch of artists who refuse to bow down to obvious marketing ploys and concentrate on what’s real to them. Master of Ceremonies most certainly follows in the same footsteps as his previous acclaimed efforts – providing unrestricted verses of the issues running rife in society not to mention his reputations on the block. SP again demonstrates the musical consistency which his fellow D Block/LOX compatriots have been unable to match in terms of content. Although going off the mark with potential lead singles as well as arguably overcooking the project with extra names, Styles still manages to iron out a stone cold street album which the wiser heads and the hood will adore.

Styles P – Master of Ceremonies
Released: October 4, 2011
Label: Entertainment One
Buy: iTunes UK / iTunes US / Amazon UK / Amazon US

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