“It’s admiration and respect for people who do what you do,” Styles said about all the music he’s been doing with Ghostface Killah and Beanie Sigel lately. All the guys have cameos on each other’s albums. “These are dudes I love. I see them and build with them. I go crazy when I pop in their stuff. You gotta keep what you’re doing alive with people who do what you do and love this art of ours. These are dudes I could rock with. We all got together and we all got joints together. It’s really keeping it hip-hop.”
Beanie SigelÃ‚Â appears on “U Ain’t Ready” from Styles’ Tuesday release Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman), while Ghostface checks in on “Star of the State.”
“The track sounds like a ’90s old-school Wu-Tang joint,” S.P. described. “It had a nasty, hallway vibe. I said, ‘I gotta call Ghost for this.’ On the Beanie joint, Dame Grease produced it. We’re going back to that formula, man, to make people lose it. Straight hip-hop.”
All three just finished a few videos together. Styles P.Ã‚Â broaches race relations on “Cause I’m Black,” where he questions why New York officers didn’t go to jail for murdering an unarmed Sean Bell, while Michael Vick is doing time for killing canines. That’s just the start of talk on the record. Black Thought has his own ideas, rhyming, “This system failed, where Mychal Bell might as well be Sean/ Genocide, Jena Six, guilty till we innocent.”
“I’ve been seeing Black Thought for years, and we always talk,” Styles said. “I think he’s a hell of an MC. He’s incredible. He’s great all around, but he’s an incredible lyricist. We was building at a tribute to Rakim, and I was like, ‘I’d love to do a joint with you.’ Anytime I see Black Thought, Mos Def, Common, Talib Kweli, I can build with them dudes. Me and Talib, Jadakiss and Black Thought, we had a mean building session one day.”
Max B of Jim Jones‘ Byrd Gang does the chorus on Styles’ “Holiday.” That record is all over the Net. “The Max B joint, that was me showing them something different,” S.P. said. “That was a flow I never used. I be having flows in my head; I just keep ‘em quiet. But it was an incredible beat, something to go left on, so I decided to come left. I always listen to Max B. He always goes a little more uptempo or slower than what he did on ‘Holiday.’ I like Max’s hooks and raps. I needed him to go somewhere he ain’t go before ’cause I’m going somewhere I ain’t been. It’s like magic, when you take two people on a beat that’s usually not them. I didn’t think you would think of me or Max on that beat. I said, ‘Let me throw them off.’ I wanted something that was different but keep it where I’m from. Nobody can pinpoint what kind of joint that is.”
Styles’ video for the lead single, “Blow Ya Mind,” is one of the more unorthodox clips this year. “In this day and age, you gotta make something to play on the radio if you’re going to get any type of success,” he said of the record, which Swizz Beatz produced. “I don’t like to be anything other than who I am. I felt that song was a fitting joint everybody could relate to.
“For the video,” he added, “I felt like I should put my career in my own hands now. I always have ideas and thoughts for my video and other people’s videos. I’m independent now. I don’t feel I should go to anybody else to put my ideas out. I knew the order of the shots and how I wanted it to look. I didn’t want to do what everybody else was doing in their video. I was thinking about the things that blow my mind, things that interest me. You see the bike riders doing tricks, the sharks in the water. I thought of things that trip me out. I be tripping out sometimes. I said, ‘Let me put it all down.’ ”
Mr. Sex Tape himself, Ray J, appears on “Let’s Go,” and Akon brings his lauded resume to “Got My Eyes on You.” On “Da 80s,” the Ghost boasts about not even needing a hook because his lyrics are so strong.
“I’m just trying to be the MC and come with good, old-fashioned street soul music. I really feel like the ’90s era,” he said, talking about the vibe of the effort, which marks his debut on the independent powerhouse, Koch Records. “It’s like my first album as far as hunger, but it’s way better as far as maturity and thought pattern. Even on the extremely hard songs, I threw conscious things in it. What caused that emotion? What was I thinking? I tried to go back to the ’90s, when MCing was MCing.”