If Jadakiss is the flashy wide receiver that gets all of the touchdowns and accolades among former LOX members, Styles P is a bruising running back that makes his money between the tackles, running through competition rather than dancing around them. That isn’t to say that the Ghost lacks complexity. On his new album The Phantom And The Ghost, his subject matter varies as often as his flows, but does it result in a great album?
As usual, Styles P brings his A-game behind the mic. On “Deeper Self” the D-Block packs a three-hour barbershop stay’s worth of material into the track’s 3-minute-or-so runtime. He juggles ruminations on street life, materialism, friendship, and loyalty like a Cirque De Soleil act. The Ghost also goes tit-for-tat with DJ Khaled’s favorite Harlemite Vado on “World Tour” and runs roughshod over Vinny Styles’ subdued production on “Don’t Be Scared.”
2. Production Woes
Unfortunately, The Phantom And The Ghost finds Styles too frequently rhyming over beats that are beneath him. The Sheek Louch-featuring “Creep Life” sounds closer to something made on MTV Music Generator or Hip-Hop Ejay than a beat one of the guys who rapped on “We Gon’ Make It” should touch. The same goes for the “Other Side,” which is over the top in its sentimental tone.
3. It Ain’t All Bad
Thankfully, there is still some strong material here. Harry Fraud’s distorted, spy film theme-inspired “For The Best” provides a much more worthy backdrop for Styles to get loose to. The subtle keys and synth strings on “Smoke All Day” are enough to cut through the *ahem* haze, as Styles puts three verses in rotation on one of his favorite subjects. “We Gettin'”‘s buzzy synths recall the lesser producers that tried to jump off of the bench in the early- to mid-2000s after The Neptunes, Timbaland, and Rockwilder changed the sound of hip-hop, but it has an undeniable snap, of which Styles takes full advantage.
4. Some Problems Can’t Be Overcome
Styles P is as consistent an act that you’re going to find in hip-hop. You can expect strong lyricism, delivered with a no-frills demeanor every time out. Unfortunately, his production mostly fails him here, and the content isn’t always interesting enough to make it easy to ignore. If you are a fan of The LOX, Styles P, and street-centric Hip-Hop in general, there’s a lot to love. However, The Phantom And The Ghost is not as polished as one would expect, and hope for, from a decorated veteran like Styles P.