Proclaiming 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.
The big man from D-Block and Yonkers native sat around idly for years while the power current from his spot light was transferred over to his more known brethren.
As of late, the New York lyricist with the in-your-face-flow has been getting his just due as The LOX continue their group hiatus in order to pursue solo endeavors.
With Jadakiss’ highly anticipated album, The Last Kiss [Click to read review] scheduled for an ’09 release, (hopefully) the man once considered as the odd ball can take credit for playing a big part in keeping the entire movement afloat.
With three studio albums under his belt, (that’s right, one more than “J To The Muah”) he decided to further his catalog by releasing Extinction (Last Of A Dying Breed), [Click to read review] a mixtape with is a collection of songs that didn’t make his Silverback Gorilla project back in March.
Further capitalizing on his momentum, he also plans to drop another full-length album during the summer. So with all that going on, will the Hip-Hop community ever hear another LOX album again? You’re just going to have to read, and find out.
iHipHop.com: So were you happy with how Silverback Gorilla was received?
Sheek Louch: Hell yeah, I loved everything about Silverback Gorilla, no lie to you. I loved my single, and it was a Top 10 record. Just seeing it on the number four and three spots on 106 & Park, it was just crazy! That was a whole ‘nother lane for me to be added on pop stations, so it was dope.
iHipHop.com: What made you release Extinction (Last Of A Dying Breed) [Click to read review] as a mixtape, instead putting some more songs on it, and dropping it as an album?
Sheek Louch: That wasn’t my intension. It was more like me just hollering at KOCH and telling them I had some joints that didn’t make the album, and lets put something out as a mixtape and hit the streets with it, you know what I mean?
It wasn’t like having the whole concentration of an album; it was more fun. Instead of holding on to these songs and not letting people hear them, I wanted to put them out.
iHipHop.com: With it being called Extinction (Last Of Dying Breed), [Click to read review] is that how you view yourself? Is the title a little personal?
Sheek Louch: It is… That’s how I view myself, and my two brothers; you know what I mean? Plus a handful of other people. I came up the in era with the mixtapes, like the DJ Clue’s, the Ron G’s, and all these people. You had to be NICE to be on those!
It was a real honor to get on those. As for now, not discredit to anybody, but there is a lot of garbage mixtapes out, and it seems like everybody just drops every two days.
They come out with a mixtape, and put anything on it, you know what I mean? I’m from the era of the B.I.G.’s the Craig Mack’s, and the Total’s, and there’s only a handful left that are cut from that cloth.
iHipHop.com: With that being said, about dropping all the time; Silverback Gorilla was released back in March, and now you have this new project. You’re not worried about over saturating yourself?
Sheek Louch: Nah, and that’s why I wanted to make it clear: This is not an album; this is straight fun. This is a time where we can drop a lot of music. One of the complaints that I hear just from my research alone—and actually Fabolous talked about this not too long ago on the radio.
He was like, “Yo, D-Block/The LOX them n*ggas are crazy, they’re hot!” “They just don’t put out a lot of music.” Besides Fab saying that, it’s true. People always say we don’t drop as much as other people, and people would love for us to put more stuff out.
iHipHop.com: So is that more strategy-wise? Like waiting a little bit longer than anyone else?
Sheek Louch: Before it was like that because Kiss was dropping his album, now I came out with mine because his wasn’t coming for another month. So it was more like that. Then everybody heard the songs, and they were like, “Just let them go.”
So I just put this out to feed the streets, then we have a compilation album coming out that’s CRAZY! But definitely go support that Jada album that’s coming out. Then I’m coming out around May with my real album.
iHipHop.com: Speaking of Jada dropping, Styles [P] has Gangster Chronicles out on top of The Last Kiss, [Click to read review] and your project. So when is everybody going to hear The LOX as one whole unit again? Are you guys too busy?
Sheek Louch: [Laughing]… I hope not, damn I hope not. EVERYBODY wants that project man, and it feels dope. But we’re definitely going to bang that out, and as far as I know Jimmy [Iovine] and everybody at Interscope wants it.
But like you said, we just been busy man. But we’ve been teasing people, like with the Pete Rock joint we had out, ‘It’s Like That Y’all.’ So we’re keeping them hungry, because when they hear us all together, it’s like, “Oh my God!” Plus we been killing these big arenas like the Summer Jam’s and the Power Jam’s.
iHipHop.com: Right now it seems that a lot of fans are obsessed with SoundScan numbers. Are first week sales something you think about?
Sheek Louch: Nah, especially not right now, HELL NO! [Laughs] NOBODY is selling, with the exception of Lil Wayne, and that never happens. Look at the statistics.
Me and Ed Lover was talking about how somebody will come out, and sold about 200,000 in their first week; then you check months later and they’re only at three-something… [Laughs] It’s a crazy game right now as far as sales and the whole Internet. A lot of the Mom & Pop stores are going down.
iHipHop.com: So what does the 2008 “Sheek Louch” know that the 1997 “Sheek Louch” didn’t know?
Sheek Louch: Ah man! You know my main one, I’m not going to give up on that one, and it’s to read your paper work. That was too much money I lost, you dig? But I would have jumped into the game a little earlier.
Like when you were only hearing Styles [P] and Kiss; I should’ve really been thinking about getting a studio and getting our own sh*t popping.
iHipHop.com: With you basically being the epitome of East Coast Hip-Hop, do you think that’s hindered you a little bit from reaching larger audiences?
Sheek Louch: I think so, but I f*ck with all of the West Coast and the South; everybody. I f*ck with all of them. I think it was because I was younger back then, but as you get older, it’s okay to do that record with Snoop [Dogg] it’s okay to do some Southern records.
I had a joint on Silverback Gorilla that had [DJ] Unk on it. As I got older, no one was beefing, so it was okay to do those records with [them] dudes.
iHipHop.com: I want to go back to how you said it took you a while to jump in the game: When you first started doing solo material, was it difficult to create knowing that all 16’s would be fall on your shoulders?
Sheek Louch: At the beginning I know everybody was like, “Let me see what this n*gga got” because at first all you heard was Kiss and Styles [P]. They would hear records with just them two, and they were wondering where I was at.
So I know I had something to prove, and not to be that third wheel, and I knew I had to hit them and hit them. So I came out with “Everywhere we goooo” then it was “You can kiss your ass goodbye,” and I just kept dropping mixtapes. So when I came in with my third album, people were like, “Homie is hot!”
iHipHop.com: Also, you’ve been on the independent circuit for a while, but would you align yourself with another major, if the opportunity presented itself? Or are you content with what you’re doing now?
Sheek Louch: My only concern with a major is the traffic. There’s traffic at KOCH, and all these independent labels but I can drop three albums if I want to this year or the next year coming up. I wouldn’t do it, but I can if I wanted to because I have creative control.
Over [there] you just get caught up in all of these long-term contracts and it’s all political and you have to wait because [Young] Jeezy is dropping, or this person or that person is dropping. At an independent, it’s hands-on and I meet with the people I need to meet with.
At majors, they don’t even know who each other is, and they’re emailing each other when their offices are right next to each other… [Laughs]
At least when you’re dealing with an independent, some coin comes back to you. So when you get that check, you’re like, “Damn, that’s another house!” You know what I mean?
iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… So how do Sheek Louch and The LOX stay relevant in a fickle industry, especially surviving all the red tape drama you’ve all been through?
Sheek Louch: You want to know why? I keep my ear to the streets man… I’m really out there, and I go to these clubs, and I’m not on none of that bullsh*t. I hear the music, and I go out there and see that sh*t changed.
A lot of it has to do with changing with the times, and changing yourself as a person. A lot of people get into the game and they’re like, “Damn, now I have to become this other person.” On my last album I had a song on there called ‘Don’t Be Them,‘ and I meant that.
iHipHop.com: So you’ve never felt pressure to change?
Sheek Louch: Nah, hell no… If I did, it’s still going to be that music that you love. I can’t do any dance routines, I’m not going to lie to you fam, I can’t do none of that sh*t.
I ain’t got a dance step for you, I ain’t got none of that! You know what I mean? [Laughs] I’m not trying to be none of that at all, I’m “Sheek Louch” and it’s D-Block ALL DAY!