On his first solo album, the Yonkers-bred LOX emcee Styles P proclaimed himself both a gangster and a gentleman, and he stands by that notion.
"I definitely am both," he tells The BoomBox. "To be one, you gotta be both to tell you the truth. Because the most gangster people in the world are gentlemen. You probably wouldn't even know they're gangsters. There's no reason to expose their hand."
On his latest LP, The World's Most Hardest MC Project, released via E1 Music last month, Styles set out to prove yet another point about exactly who he is.
Known for his easy flow and sharp lyricism, the Ghost has never tried to be anything he's not. After nearly two decades in hip-hop, he's completely at ease with his position, but with The World's Most Hardest MC Project, he mixes things up a bit.
"I just wanted to make a project where even though it was toned down, it would still be aggressive," he explains. "But sometimes you just want to get off, as an emcee, on some different shit to the fact that you know people ain't really gon' play the music. Every song, I was just like 'This? There's no way they're gonna play this on the radio ... no way.' And even if a song felt like it wasn't extremely hard, it was still too hard for the radio. So I said, this was the project I wanted to do, just being me, on the hard emcee tip."
In an attempt to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be the hardest emcee, The BoomBox tapped Styles P for his top 10 tips for the weak MCs in the industry. Relax and take notes.
2. Watch plenty of movies. Watch different genres of movies. Action, drama, old school, black people shit, white people shit, Spanish shit. National Geographic, Animal Planet, all kinds of things. Try and absorb as much as you can.
3. Consider your peers as competition. You have to think of your peers, your folks, how they get it in. Try to listen to them as much as you can.
4. Consider the vets as competition. Listen to those who came before you. Learn from them -- but they're your competition too.
5. Pay homage to the vets. Listen to the artists that came before you, who you love, and who you're a fan of. Listen to their style and what you can take from it. See if you can use anything or learn anything from them.
6. Start feeling yourself. You have to have an attitude like you really are "that" person.
7. Hit the streets. This might not be for you, but you have to hit the streets. See what the streets like, what they do and what they're into.
8. Hit the "real" parts of the streets. Go where only the goons go. Go to certain events, places and spots where other the official, certified people can go! You gotta see what's on their mind and how they live. I don't suggest that for everybody though. That's not really a thing you should really have to do, or anything. I'm just saying, if you really wanna dive into the realm...
9. Stay hungry. Remain extremely competitive. You can respect those who came before you and those that come after you, but you're still competing. This is your craft. Be the best at what you do.
10. Commit to a lane. Know that when you claim to be large at something, that's your only lane. That's a solid lane. You gotta respect those dudes that step into the "I'm Hard" lane. You have to see if you fit in with it, and if you don't fit in with it, then don't even fucking try, and fall back. If you do, then you do what you have to do to become even harder than those that you think are hard. That's the key.