For the past five years now, the Brooklyn Bodega’s annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival [click here] has brought some of the most celebrated and vibrant lyrical acts to one of the city’s most beloved boroughs in a celebration of quality Hip Hop. This year’s concert on June 20 will feature performances from Pharoahe Monch, dead prez, Smif-n-Wessun [click to read], and of course, D-Block emcee Styles P [click to read]. "The Ghost" sat down to discuss how he was initially approached to headline the festival.
“[I was asked to be apart of it] through my manager,” said Styles. “I have to pat myself on the back because I did some good work with Talib [Kweli], I did good work with Black Thought, I did good work with dead prez, I did good work with Pharoahe [Monch]. I did good work, and I’m an emcee you can feel.”
Styles P explained his mentality in approaching a live performance. To him, a live show presents the opportunity to not only connect with fans, but also to celebrate the music with a group of people who love Hip-Hop as much as he loves it.
“I just rock [live shows]. I love my people, I love Hip Hop and I love people that love Hip Hop. I’m pretty much going for energy. I don’t feel like the average artist with that. My connection is to the people. I’m just happy to be able to work for them. I’m happy to give the few minutes to perform for them.”
He later added, “Anytime it’s an event like [the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival], it’s really good just to see the event. You definitely see who you particularly want to see, but always look for the opening acts and the other acts, because there’s a lot of energy there, too. There’s a lot of new love, like aspiring energy, creative. It’s like [they’re] the babies of Hip Hop in a sense. I’m a fan of [the] hunger.”
Styles also discussed the sense of solidarity between emcees and fans evoked by such Hip-Hop performances. Yet for the Yonkers rapper, it is the sense of love felt for Hip Hop that makes such events so special and so real.
“I feel camaraderie if it’s all Hip Hop in the building,” noted Styles. “Anytime it’s people who aren’t gimmicky and people who aren’t industry and people who aren’t fucking worried about what the masters say but really care about they’re saying to the masters and how the masters take them for what they’re saying, there’s all the people I respect and love being around. Anytime you’ve got people doing anything…for the cause of Hip Hop, you’ve got that love for Hip Hop. It means there’s no bullshit involved. If a bunch of people put their free time [into something like this], then that means there’s love in the air. It doesn’t mean that there’s bullshit and politics in the air. It doesn’t that people are coming out to see how much swag Styles P’s got. It doesn’t mean people are coming out to see what the fuck outfit Styles P’s got. It doesn’t mean people are coming out to see what car he pulls up in. These people are coming [out] because they love Hip Hop and because they want to see someone perform. They want to see somebody give their all when they’re on that stage. They want to see somebody who gives a fuck.”
One of the most obvious things about the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival is the sheer diversity of lyrical talent it brings to the stage year after year. Style P feels the caliber of lyricism at this festival is somewhat of a rarity in the grand scheme of modern Hip Hop, but that Hip-Hop is ready for a lyrical resurgence.
“I think [musical diversity] is important if you’re that kind of artist. I believe I’m that kind of artist, so I should show more than just one side. I believe if an artist is an artist, he should follow his heart, follow his instinct and do his best to feed his people.”
He added, “In modern Hip Hop, it’s the last of a dying breed when you hear some lyrics. I kind of think [Hip Hop’s] on its way around, like on a 360 spin. A lot of people are pulling back on a lot of work. I think with times being hard with this so-called ‘recession,’ or whatever the fuck they call it…I think you tend to hear real shit. I think everything goes in a cycle. Who the fuck wants to hear all hard shit for ten years? Who the fuck wants to hear all fly shit for 10 years? Who the fuck wants to hear all dance shit for ten years? [It’s] got to switch.”
Most recently, Styles P appeared on D-Block’s album No Security [click to read], which was released through E1 Music. He describes the recording process as fun and inspiring to see the entire group work together in making an album.
“[Recording No Security] was fun as a motherfucker,” said Styles. “It was fun, it was energizing, it was beautiful. I’m ecstatic that people get the opportunity to hear them and that they’re on a release where people can hear their talent displayed on something bigger than a mixtape. It was great for people to understand how D-Block’s expanded and where we’re trying to take it. It was a great experience passing the torch. You can’t hold the torch forever.”
On the horizon, Styles P indicates that he hopes to expand his creative output into more than just Hip Hop. He will be releasing his first novel called Mr. Invincible via Nicki Turner Presents/Random House.
“I just wanted to have something to creatively when I’m 50. Nobody can call you an old author. I don’t want to be rhyming when I’m 50. I don’t mind probably spot checking if I’ve still got it. When I’m 50, I should look like I’m 38, so it should be alright to come through and perform. That’s what I’m banking on. But I’m going to be laying back with my family, a couple of houses. I’ve got four books coming…that’s where my mind frame’s going to be in a minute.”