Did you know that according to Mr. Webster, the term “Master of Ceremonies” dates back to circa 1610? That means we’ve been through more than 400 years of emcees. Thankfully, over the course of those 400 years the definition of an emcee has changed quite dramatically. Also thankfully, the emcees (at least the hip-hop breed) have evolved and grown over the years. Well, most of them. Which brings me to Styles P.
Styles P has been part of some big name crews over the years including The LOX, D-Block and Ruff Ryders. One would be hard pressed to question his legitimacy in the hip-hop world. That said, when you name your album Master of Ceremonies you better bring the motherfucking party. And for the first three tracks Styles P is actually at the top of his game. The opening “How I Fly” is a feel-good ode to smokin’ up – a smooth track blessed with warm, summery G-funk. Go figure – it’s produced by Warren G. This is followed by “We Don’t Play”, which despite some rather elementary lyrics still manages to completely knock. Lloyd Banks throws in his two gutter cents, and it actually works! Next up is the requisite self-promoting, street-cred-boosting (yet somehow still enjoyable) joint, “I’m a Gee”.
However, things just go straight downhill from here. Even features from Pharoahe Monch, Rick Ross, Pharrell and Busta Ryhmes can’t really revive this mess of an album. Yeah, it’s a problem when your best feature is Lloyd Banks. Part of problem with Master of Ceremonies is that Styles P actually doesn’t have anything to say. The entire album is an exercise in indulgence and tales of ghetto gunfights. This is also probably why the first few tracks are palatable, and the rest are just dry. But even beyond the lack of diversity of content (and overall creativity), Styles just fails to bring anything exciting to his delivery. He’s quite simply repetitive and uninspired.
Styles tries to flip the script smack in the middle of the album on “Children”, which features an equally uninspired Pharoahe Monch (never thought I’d write those words). The premise of “Children” is a lament at the twisted lives of inner city youth, surrounded by violence, poverty and crime. But wait, let’s not forget that the rest of the album promotes guns more than the NRA. The hypocrisy is annoying, out of place, and altogether just adds to the thoughtlessness of the album.
I’m not opposed to gutter, throat-chopping, violent lyrics – but seriously someone give Styles a copy of Champion Sound or something.