stylesProclaiming yourself, as “The Hardest Out” can be a difficult task if you don’t have the firepower to back it up—so it’s a good thing that Styles’ mouthpiece is like a broken safety on an automatic assault rifle.

If you visit any street corner, in any ‘hood, in any project; chances are you might come across some people who don’t believe in day jobs arguing about who’s better out of Jadakiss and the Ghost himself.

While “Al Qaeda Jada” might have more commercial appeal, denying Styles’ street credibility is like trying to convince Donald Trump that Melania-Knauss Trump married him for his looks and not for the three billion dollars he has tucked away in his piggy bank.

Since the dust from his third album Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) settled, the Yonkers-bred lyricist has released Phantom: Gangster Chronicles vol. 1, a mixtape/DVD combination. Filled with gritty rhymes, “SP” wastes no time in getting things underway with songs like ‘Two Clap.

The material that makes a valid point on whether he’s actually the best LOX member or not comes into play with lines like, “Now I’m the boss of the bosses/if you think you’re married to the streets, I can make you divorce it/always hear me speak on the Porsches/I think it’s the horses/and how it zig-zags on the courses/big bags of money, try grabbing a fortune/the wheel get real, gotta spin it with caution/I ain’t really into the flossin’/I’m a stay dark/follow you home/get into your Porsche-in.

An eerie piano loop is the star of the show on ‘I’m Your Pusher’ featuring Straw and Trav; where Styles sits this one out in order to let the young D-Block associates get their own individual shine. But he returns on ‘Told You,’ and goes for self, “They can tell a n*gga to pop off/I’m here to pick all the money up, when it get dropped off/crossin’ n*ggas over like Hot Sauce/but this ain’t a ball game.”

Styles taps into the R&B world on ‘Real N*gga’ as it features Ray J; and the mixture of the crooner’s faint tone blends in perfectly with the MC’s coarse word play. Other songs like ‘Where I’m From’ featuring Tre’ Williams, ‘Don’t Want It’ featuring Bucky and AP, and ‘Nuttin’ Come EZ’ also featuring AP are good additions as well—while the Next Generation could’ve used a little more prepping for their debut on ‘Cook Up.

Phantom: Gangster Chronicles vol. 1 is a cool listen, and worth checking out, especially if you’re on the side of the debate that thinks Styles P is the best member out of the three-man collective.

With only nine tracks (including ‘The Hardest’ which was previously featured on AZ’s Undeniable album), the Ghost manages to give the streets that love him so dearly more heroin bars that should hold them down until they start itching for another fix.

Rating: 3.0