Artist: Styles P
Album: Master Of Ceremonies
Label: E1, D-Block
In an interview at this years SXSW music festival, Bun B said the following: “An MC and a rapper are two different things, an MC can be a rapper, but a rapper is not always an MC. The distinction between an MC and a rapper is attention to lyrical content and being culpable for what you say”. By Bun’s definition, Styles P is most certainly an MC. Therefore as generic as it may be I guess it is appropriate that SP’s fourth solo album is titled Master Of Ceremonies, which of course is the long way to say MC. Many of The Ghosts previous albums have had titles that might suggest he is more of a “rapper” rather than a MC (Super Gangsta Extraordinary Gentleman, Time Is Money, ect) but real fans know that is not the case. It’s certainly not the case on Master Of Ceremonies, as Styles “attention to lyrical content” is extremely evident as he spits about an assortment of topics ranging from his concerns regarding the worlds youth on “Children” to what movies he watches when he’s lit on “How I Fly” and of course all the normal “Street Sh*t” you expect to hear from the Ghost. However, despite the diverse lyrics, Master Of Ceremonies is hindered by what is at best average production that makes it hard to distinguish this album from some of SP’s earlier works.
Similar to some of those earlier projects, The Ghost kicks off Master Of Ceremonies with one of his good old stoner songs. While it’s no “Good Times” or “Blow Your Mind”, “How I Fly” gets the job done as Styles P makes it clear that he still needs an ounce and half every day with lyrics like “Real hustler tryna get bucks / Real stoner tryna get stuck / Tryna smoke the winners of the cannabis cup”. However, despite The Ghosts weed friendly bars, which go on to include a list of his favorite movies to watch when blazed, “Every night I steam / Watching Tropic Thunder, Me Myself and Irene / Smoke to Chappelle, light up to Mike Epps / Any given time QP on deck” “How I Fly” is impeded by a lethargic Avery Storm hook that simply sounds awkward over fast paced futuristic G funk flavor provided by Warren G.
In addition to Warren, SP enlisted other notable producers on Master Of Ceremonies, but you would never be able to figure that out just by listening to the album. The production on Master Of Ceremonies just reeks of laziness even on songs produced by some of the most sought after beat makers in the game. The beat, scratch that, basic piano loop anyone could make on “Ryde On The Regular” produced by AraabMUZIK is one of many piano filled melodies found on the album that maybe could’ve been hot ten or fifteen years ago. And keep in mind this is coming from someone who loves 90’s hip hop and is a sucker for beats filled with keys, but even I can’t ignore how painfully outdated songs like “Uh Ohh” and the Statik Selektah produced baseline with some old L.O.X. scratches “Feelings Gone” sound. Regarding production, the only joints that really deserve props are “Harsh” ft Busta Rhymes & Rick Ross, which is still just a simple piano rift but catchy enough that it gives the Pharrell produced “Don’t Turn Away” some competition for the best beat on the album award.
Anyways back to the lyrics, because isn’t that what really matters on an album titled Master Of Ceremonies? SP does his best to make up for whack beats with remarkably conscious rhymes on tracks like “Keep The Faith” and “Children” ft Pharoahe Monch. On “Children” SP deliberately addresses some of the problems pertaining to the world’s youth, and brings light to some of the negative effects technology has on the kids of today. He does so most notably in the second verse of the song which is packed with accurately detailed bars like “And the birds play video games / Imitate whack rappers in the video games / Playstation Xbox laptop desktop / I be asking myself when will the mess stop / Snotty little n*ggas is too rude / All I know is Google and YouTube is making it easy / Nothing realistic you can see on the TV / But they call this reality show / Stunting they growth making them lazy it’s so crazy”. The awareness that The Ghost displays on “Children” is so commendable that Ma Dukes would probably co-sign that track. However, the same definitely cannot be said for a song like “How I Fly”. But that’s why Styles P is a great MC; he is able to take his lyrical content in completely different directions while still always being “culpable for what he says”.
Master Of Ceremonies consists of twelve tracks and ten of those twelve include features. Of course among Styles P’s many guest are his D-Block brethren Sheek Louch and Jadakiss. Sheek joins the Ghost on “Uhh Ohh” and “Street Sh*t” but those two cuts put together aren’t as hot as the Phantom Kiss combination on “It’s Ok”. “It’s Ok” features Jadakiss and Styles taking turns trading some of the rawest and grimiest rhymes on the entire album as well as one of the better beats on the project (although that’s not really saying much).
With Master Of Ceremonies, SP proves once again that even with fifteen plus years in the game under his belt, dude is still a real MC. Regarding subject matter, this album provides listeners with a buffet of music starting with an appetizer of pot smoking punch lines sure to leave you hungry for an entrée of classic SP street tunes followed by some conscious food for thought for desert. But despite all of this Master Of Ceremonies is still far from The Ghost’s best work. Nowadays, being an MC is only half of it and it’s hard to craft a truly successful project in 2011 without other necessary elements. So at the end of the day, I’d tell you to buy this one only if you’re one of D-Blocks most faithful, or if you just can’t get enough of that late 90’s, early 00’s hip hop sound.