Styles P: Independents Day

posted November 26, 2007 12:00:00 AM CST | 30 comments

In 2002 Styles P introduced us to his personal duality on A Gangster And A Gentleman. According to the title of his forthcoming third solo effort Styles has now risen to the level of a Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman). After five years of proving himself to be one of the premiere street griots in the game, his promotion in billing is well deserved.

While Styles, Jadakiss and Sheek are still searching for a new major-label deal for the next LOX album, [click here for all the details], Paniro has decided to showcase his Super Gangster independently.

HipHopDX recently caught up with The Ghost to discuss his move from major to indie, why he wouldnt let Interscope kill his career, and how 50 Cent helped him gain his independence.

HipHopDX: Why are you a super gangster, but yet in still an extraordinary gentleman?
Styles P
:  For the time I put in the streets, the amount of respect I get for still being hot like I was when I came in walking with no security state to state in different hoods, just the way I carry myself, and them bars I give out.

DX: On the gentlemanly side, you've got a couple cuts for the ladies, Got My Eyes On You featuring Akon and Look At Her, youre not going all the way LL on us, are you?
: Nah, and Got My Eyes On You aint for the ladies neither. Its about keeping my eyes on the people who got they eyes on me. You know how you get watched in the hood. Nah, it aint for the ladies at all.

DX: Okay, I thought maybe with the Akon feature  Is the Ray J song, What Goes Around, a shot at the females?
: Now thats kind of on the gentleman side of things, yeah. I mean, I just be a gentleman for the way I carry myself, for the way I handle myself, for having manners, being respectable. I only violate you if you violate me. I have respect for every man, whether hes homeless, president, working man, whatever. Every man deserves respect till he does something not to. Everybody deserves respect, and everybody should have manners and be polite.

DX: Reading through the track list for your new album, I get the sense that most of this CD is darker. Like one title in particular leaps out at me, All I Know Is Pain, is that a literal statement, is times really that hard right about now?
: Nah, its just about the things that go on in life. But on the track I say our pain makes us stronger, youll learn to get over it or to live with it - from hard times, adversities to death to back stabbings, all that shit. I think everybody lives with pain, a certain amount.

DX: Another title that jumped out at me was Alone In The Street, what specifically are you speaking on in that song?
:  About how I move in the streets sometimes, and when you alone the thoughts you have. Grindin hard for many hours, sometimes its just you. You on that highway and its late, or its early, its just about that grind constantly all-around the clock, everyday.

DX:  Thats actually one topic you dont think about when you think of a song about hustlin, loneliness. Now there are a few more songs from the new album I gotta ask about, the first one being your collabo with Beanie Sigel. I know Beans and Jada made peace and have since worked together, but for some reason I was still surprised to see you and Sigel got together.
:  Yeah, I mean, I had to go for the hard Hip Hop. Hes in my category when it comes to being hard. And hes always shouted me out and said he was a fan of mine coming in the game, always gave me props, so And he was a worthy adversary.

DX: Now this title from your new album seems self-explanatory, but tell me what youre talking about on 80s?
: Well with 80s its more the vibe of the song, when you hear the beat. Kid Capri did the track. Im talking about the hustlers, the look, the things people were doing in the street Its not talking about going back, its up-to-date but its the 80s vibe, so I named it the '80s. Its about when people was taking they welfare checks and flippin em, and you was going outta state looking for blocks that nobody was on its kind of on that tip.

DX: The final song from the album I gotta ask about is Star Of The State with Ghostface, what are yall spittin on that track?
:  Basically, when it comes to being hard I feel like Im the star of the state. I dont feel like an industry star or a superstar. But when it comes to being on the streets and being hard, Im the star of the state. And I felt like Ghost is a star on the streets too, like a superstar in the hood.

DX: I noticed there doesnt appear to be a song like Im Black on the new album. Was that intentional?
I do have one. I got a song with Black Thought called 'Cause Im Black. I gotta stick with that. I could never leave the jewel out. In this day and age, in this industry, you know if you pay attention that you dont really hear Common, Mos Def, dead prez in constant rotation, and its really because of the content. I learned that firsthand with Im Black, and seeing how I damn near got blackballed. But with I Get High they played the shit out of it. And thats not rap, thats society. Thats what people always get wrong. You go to the movies what movie you gonna see? You gonna go see the shoot-'em-up flick. Theres certain shit that people tend to gravitate to. So when you droppin a jewel, you almost gotta damn near sneak it in. So me, I cant do an album without droppin a jewel.

DX:  You and Black Thought, have yall worked together before?
: Nah, this was our first time.

DX:  Howd that collabo happen?
: I always see him and we always chop it up. So I just asked him, When I work on this album, let me get you on it, and he was like, No doubt. We really got to chop it up when we did the Vh1 Hip-Hop Honors. The Roots was the band playing and me and him did the Rakim tribute. We got to chop it up a lot there.

DX: Going back here, you mentioned being blackballed, do you think Im Black, and specifically Interscopes reaction to the song, played any part in the nearly two-year delay in the label releasing Time Is Money?
: I think so. I think it was scary for people. To be honest with you, I think more black corporate people were scared of it than white.

DX:  The irony of that whole situation is the track was produced by a white guy... [Laughs]
: Yeah, Alchemist produced the track. [Laughs] Thats what people dont know. Yeah, that is the funny part about it. I always chuckle about that myself when I think about the situation with that song.

DX: Its definitely one of the best songs youve ever done, so did they just not push the right buttons?
:  To this day, I feel that was the best song I ever did, that and My Brother. I kinda knew when I made it that was gonna happen. I had a little hope in my heart that it wouldnt, but deep down I knew. I mean, you gotta know what kind of society you dealing with. I wasnt blind to the fact of what society wants and likes. But as a black man and having some responsibility as an artist who could reach people, I had to throw it out there.

DX: And do you think that contributed to the delay of the album?
Definitely so. It definitely slowed me down. That definitely wasnt the first single they was looking for from me.

DX: Did the label drop you after the albums poor commercial performance or did you ask out of your deal?
:  I asked out. I got out actually before the album dropped.

DX: So you already knew the album wasnt gonna do well.
: Yeah, I already knew. I looked at it from a business point of view. I sat down and faced reality, like I came with Im Black and it didnt strike, or whatever. And then I came with the Can You Believe It joint. That hit, but they dropped the video in September, summertime was over. And during that time I had Favorite Drug, which has the same Crystal Waters sample that T.I. used [for Why You Wanna]. I told them to drop that when it would have been like a year-and-a-half before T.I.s joint dropped. So I knew after all that the album [wasnt going to sell]. Most of the albums material was out. I had some other [possible singles], but I knew I wanted to get off [Interscope]. I seen how my career was going down the wrong lane. I was like this shit is gonna be a dud. Im over here I mean, they got G-Unit, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Mary J Blige, Busta, this one, that one When this album flops because of all these mishapson a major when they let your shit die, you're just dead. And I wasnt willing to let that happen to myself. I felt like I worked too hard, too many years. So I said, "Nah, let me get on out."

DX: Now I know you been asked this a thousand times, but I gotta ask for the thousand and first time what role if any you think the beef with 50 Cent played in the mishandling of your album?
: I think that it kinda helped. It helped me get off [the label]. I think what he said, the building took more to heart than what he really meant. So I think they lived by [what he said] just by being scared of him. But I think that helped me because I needed off [the label] anyway. He was helping keeping me alive, basically. So it was better for me on the low, how I was looking at it. Cause I was looking at it like, okay, this how Ima get the fuck up outta here. I mean, he said something and they was living by it. And so I was like, let me just be on out.

DX: And I understand after all those problems with Interscope youve vowed to never sign with a major again?
: Yeah, not as Styles P the solo artist. As The LOX, I will. But if they got that check, the check I want, the one I dont think theyll cough updont get it wrong, Im a businessman. But what Im gonna ask for is so much that in case everything go wrong I wont even care. [Laughs]

DX: But you made like a conscious decision to go to Koch? This wasnt like
: Yeah, I had my whole shit planned out. I felt like on the streets my buzz, my status is so crazy that I knew I was still good. And what I do that the average artist doesnt do is I kept myself alive through the mixtape circuit. So that was just making my fans hungrier and hungrier, and making my fans more supportive and resenting the fact that happened to me. So I knew I was alright.

DX: Im a little confused, youre on Koch so whats your recording relationship with Ruff Ryders at this point?
: We still work with them as The LOX, but for my solo joints, I dont deal with them; its just me. Thats what I asked for. Dee let me handle my own career and do what I gotta do. Im not no big A-list star and all that, but I am a big star on the streets so they let me grind out and let me get this paper. They felt me and understood that and that was that.

DX: Whats the future hold for your label/crew, D-Block?
: Get my mixtape The Phantom Menace from me and Big Mike and youll get to hear the future of D-Block: Bucky, Bully, Large Amounts, A.P...You know J-Hoods status [with D-Block]. I dont know why he did all of that, what he said on the internet and all that was wrong. We told him he could go and he aint D-Block no more.

DX: Any additional thoughts on his public displays of discontent with yall?
: That was wack. I got love for him. I wish him the best in life. I hope he does good, but that was mad foolish. That was like looking for publicity I guess, cause I spoke to him two weeks prior and told him it was cool, he could leave. So I think that was just corny, but I still wish him the best. Some things are just for the best.

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