STYLES P FINALLY SET TO RELEASE “TIME IS MONEY”
By Khalid J. Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. Rapper Styles P, one-third of hardcore rap trio The LOX (which also consists of Jadakiss and Sheek Louch), couldn’t have chosen a better title for his much delayed and highly-anticipated sophomore solo album. Each time Interscope Records stiff-armed the LP’s release date, “Time is Money” seemed less like a clever moniker and more of a hint for the clueless record label. It’s been four years since Styles P blessed the masses with his remarkable debut album, “A Gangster and a Gentleman”. With chart-topping songs like “Good Times” produced by Swizz Beats and “The Life” featuring Pharaoh Monch in heavy rotation, “A Gangster and a Gentleman” was certified platinum in 2002. Since then, Styles has kept his name entrenched in the rap game with performances on numerous mix tapes, collaborations and of course, co-ops with his tight-knit D-Block family.
The many fans of Styles P’s rough-and-tumble verses can breathe a collective sigh of relief on December 19th 2006, the day “Time is Money” finally hits stores. Featuring production by skilled masters like Scott Storch, Lil’ Jon, Hi-Tek, The Alchemist and Mobb Deep’s Havoc, “Time is Money” is sturdy in the beat department. As listeners have come to expect, Styles P never brings less than his A-game when it’s time to lay down a verse. Not only does the man also known as “The Ghost” deliver the gritty street rhymes for which he’s revered, Styles has expanded his repertoire to include songs like “I’m Black”, a profound work of art with an essential message. No punches are pulled as Styles capably dissects race relations in his own blunt style:
“Look in my eyes the wool can’t get pulled over / Look in my cars and stay getting’ pulled over (I’m Black) / Me the public enemies number one / Government looking in the hood sending in the gun (I’m Black) / And I don’t need jewelry to shine / Look at my skin color it’s like the jewelry is blind (I’m Black) / They focus on the negative attention / Do something positive, and never get mentioned”
Styles P took a moment from his busy promotion schedule to field a few questions from Dirty Angel for Insomniac Magazine.
Dirty Angel: What does “Time is Money” bring to the Styles P catalog?
Styles P: More maturity; my growth, the things I went through… where my mind’s at… and it just certifies me more as a lyricist.
Angel: Since your release date kept getting pushed back, did you add any new songs? Did you change anything or has the album been complete for some time now?
Styles: Nah, it’s been complete and I added a few here and there.
Angel: Do you think the conflict (your crew, D-Block) had with G-Unit played a role in your album getting pushed back?
Styles: Somewhat I think. It was a lot of issues… politics, period. I can’t really say what it is, ‘cause I wish I knew. You understand? I’m just thankful I got a day now, December 19th.
Angel: Outside of your immediate crew, the only other cameo on your new LP is Talib Kweli, right?
Styles: As far as a rapper. I got Jagged Edge, Marsha from Floetry, Sizzla Kalonji and God bless… the late, great Gerald Levert. Rapper-wise only Talib.
Angel: What was it about Talib that brought about that collaboration, since he’s the only rapper? Nowadays it seems like people’s albums sound more like compilations.
Styles: If you notice on my first joint, only other rappers I had besides my crew was M.O.P. I’m not really big on… go call a bunch of people to get on my album. I’m not big on it because it’s my album. So I want you to look forward to hearing a lot from me plus I got a lot to send out.
Angel: “I’m Black”, that’s a really deep joint, man. It’s hot. With all the negative and corny music that gets pushed out there, why wouldn’t a record label give a song like “I’m Black” that same kind of push?
Styles: Um… well, I think it’s just for song content alone. I ain’t just gonna blame the record label… the radio I don’t think picked up on it a lot either. Then I got to attribute that maybe some of my fans just wasn’t ready to hear that from me either. I don’t really know I try to throw that one in there too. It was a lot of equations, but I think people was scared of the song just due to the fact of its content. Even though it’s not harmful, it’s just… I guess it was straightforward. I don’t know… I wish I could answer that one too. I think they was just scared. What could you say… what could I say?
Angel: At what point in your life did you know that rap was your calling… something that you really took seriously?
Styles: I been rappin’ since I was seven, man, so… I guess when I met my partners in the junior high or high school. ‘Cause ‘til then I, before I met them, I was just flowin’ on the streets, battlin’ n****s… just like, kind of ciphers. And they was doing songs, going to studios and s**t like that. So when I got on with them, I started getting to the studio and getting the feel of the studio and s**t like that.
Angel: So how does a guy so gully keep it real in a music industry that’s so fake?
Styles: I just try to be me… that’s all I can remain to do is just be me. And just deal with the ups and downs; and know that it comes with the game and it comes with the territory. It’s nothing I can stop… it’s nothing I can do to end it. Just be me, do what I do.
Angel: Your street cred is solid. You’ve been to jail for some real s**t. And a lot of guys now, they’re doing things for publicity; like going to jail or getting shot. There’s a lot of things that cats do just to prove their authentic. As a guy that went to jail on some real s**t, what would you advise an aspiring rapper who might be thinking about getting locked up just for sales?
Styles: Don’t f**k with your freedom, man. Straight views like that, you don’t f**k with your freedom. You appreciate your freedom and it’s not really… that’s something to play around with. That’s not really… you’re not gangsta because you went to jail, ‘cause all kind of peoples are in jail. You know what I mean? So that doesn’t make you gangsta, to go to jail.
Angel: Unlike a lot of other New York artists, you’ve never changed your style or your flow to sound like you from another region. You have your own trademark sound. Why is that important to you?
Styles: I mean, years down the line you’re going to remember me. If I sound like everybody else you ain’t gonna remember that. You got to strictly remember me for being me.
Angel: So do you and Sheek and Jada have any plans on doing a LOX album in the future?
Styles: We’re working on that now. We’re going in.
Angel: It sounds like there’s a lot of maturity coming form your new album; you got “I’m Black” which is a little bit out the norm for you. Jadakiss had “Why”, which is a real deep track. Sheek Louch got some tracks on “After Taxes” like that. Was this something that was by design, or did everybody just go that next level on they own.
Styles: Nah, you gradually go through it, you go through things, you know? People… you don’t understand. Even though I’m a rap artist, you see I’m human. You understand what I’m saying? And this is something I do, this is something I can’t help but do. I can’t help but rhyme. So it’s just natural that you talk about the things that happen in your life or the things you see… and serious things. I mean, that’s like saying even a person who is… besides taking music out the factor… if you was to take a person or whatever, a straight gangsta… you think every gangsta, there’s no part of consciousness to him? He got a conscious part to him. You understand what I’m saying? Everybody got some kind of conscious part… well, most people.
Angel: So what is the biggest misconception about Styles P?
Styles: It depends on how you view me. Some people view me as… like, I don’t know. Some people look at me as the hardest rapper out, and then when I do interviews with some people or whatever, they look to expect something conscious out of me. So, I think if you viewing me as an all-gangsta then I got conscious with me. And if you’re viewing me as all-conscious then you should know I got gangsta with me. I would say that.
Angel: What do you hope to accomplish with “Time is Money”?
Styles: Honestly, truthfully… what I initially intended to accomplish with it… is where I really go platinum with this one. ‘Cause the material stepped up so I expect it to be stepped up. But now I just expect people to get the music, expect… you know… understand my situation, what I went through, my ups-and-downs. Appreciate the music. And I expect a hard, slow grind… but with a heavy impact, as usual.
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