It’s funny how the Hip Hop industry works in cycles. Just a few years ago, fans were paralyzed with the fear that their favorite New York emcee would flip the script and pledge allegiance to the mighty south. Nowadays, while such geographic pandering still drives the industry, more and more of the city’s finest are returning to that New York state of mind.
Perhaps the one rapper in recent history to keep New Yitty’s music alive is D-Block heavyweight Styles P. And on his latest release The Green Ghost Project, he and partner in crime DJ Green Lantern do just that – to an extent, of course. While the album finds the Yonkers brawler hitting hard with his trademark blend of gritty lyricism and insightfully conscious moments, Green Ghost feels both rushed and more like a mixtape than a full album. Still, P manages to wreck house over Lantern and company’s hard-hitting production, turning what could have been merely average material into the Timberland boot stomp that modern Hip Hop so sorely needs.
Styles has always been undercut as the L.O.X.’s most versatile emcee, and while Green Ghost isn’t his strongest work as an emcee, it’s clear indication of the immense talent which he possesses. Cuts like “Send A Kite” and “Born In These Streets” find the Ghost reflecting on the streets with an unflinching eye, eschewing no detail or emotion. It’s exactly this undiscriminating lyricism that makes Styles such a worthy rapper. On the latter of the two songs, Styles spits with his trademark stunted cadence, “And I tried to play a positive role / But I was broke, so it was logic I stole / When you fuck with real niggas, it’s an honor to roll / Six million ways to die, must the llama I hold?” It’s impossible to pigeonhole Holiday Styles in any set position, and that’s exactly what makes him so exciting an emcee
The album proves far less consistent than the emcee that drives it forward. It’s a decidedly hardbody affair, rife with loud, eardrum shattering tracks about the streets and its numerous vices. To some , it may seem shallow or trite material, but at the end of the day, Styles can mine gold from even the most tapped of lyrical mines. Cuts like “Invasion” with Junior Reid and Jadakiss, “Time Will Tell” with Raekwon and the skulking and venomous “Make Millions From Entertainment” find the Ghost with guns out and ready for war. Other cuts like “Pablo Doe” and “Real Ghostly” follow in similar fashion but to a less successful degree, and even though the M.O.P.-featured “Bang Time” is recycled from the Brownsville duo’s recent Foundation, the song is good enough that it’s no harm, no foul. But it’s not all guns and glory for the Ghost, however. Tracks like “Nothing to Lose” and “Callin’ Me” with Tre Williams find Styles in a more introspective state, reflecting upon the streets that made him.
Despite it’s numerous gems, The Green Ghost is not without its numerous shortcomings. “That’s Me” featuring S.I. and “Double Trouble” with Sheek Louch prove overly redundant in the company of bangers like “Invasion,” while other songs like “Pretty Little Thing” and “Shadows” fail to evoke the same level of excellence like “Send A Kite” and “Born In These Streets.” Overall, Green Ghost’s major flaw is that it lacks cohesion, feeling more like a mixtape’s collection of songs than an actual album.
Green Ghost’s production, handled primarily by Green Lantern, is unrepentantly loud. Green Lantern’s thematic “Nothing To Lose” sets the tone for the album, making ample room for the skulking synths of “Invasion” and the gunshot explosiveness of “Bang Time.” Unfortunately, Lantern stays grounded in loudness, making his production credits on the album enjoyable, but static. It’s producer like The Alchemist (“Make Millions From Entertainment”), Buckwild (“Time Will Tell”) , Poobs (“Born in the Streets”) and Scram Jones (“Callin’ Me”) who change the album’s pace with sonically unique. On the other end of the production spectrum, too many of Styles’ rhymes are outfitted with fairly flaacid and almost unlistenable cuts from Statik Selektah (“Shadows”), Dutchez Beats (“Real Ghostly”) and Vinny Idol (“Legal Money”).
This album is a loud and cheap thrill, with enough bumper-shaking cuts to deserve play in the whip. At the same token, we’ve seen Styles P produced better realized albums (A Gangsta & A Gentleman), and while Green Ghost is far from bad, it pales in comparison to what fans know the Ghost can produce.