There is a lingering affection among hip-hop heads for the grimy New York sound that was prominent in the 1990s. Today there’s something almost comforting about those rugged beats and rhymes, especially in contrast to today’s rinky dink production and de-emphasis on lyricism. Styles P, formerly of the Lox with Jadakiss and Sheek Louch, is one MC who seems to have never left that particular comfort zone. While he’s never again reached the heights in popularity he had with the Lox and P. Diddy back in the late 90s, he’s steadily produced over the years with a familiar streetwise style. On his sixth studio release, Float, ain’t a damn thing changed.
“Manson Murder” has Styles P professing, “I ain’t one for the small talk…A bull’s eye on the forehead/F*** wack rappers, I leave ‘em all dead.” Produced entirely by Scram Jones, who has contributed significantly to recent releases from Raekwon, Float has a simple sound of scratches, samples and hard beats. The dusty old thump and clap of “Take It Back” is a perfect example with Styles P rapping about how far he’s come.
The production is steady throughout and there is something refreshing about the back-to-basics sound, but Styles P seems to have nothing new to offer here. On “Redeye” with Jadakiss, he drops forgettable brags like, “I go with it, I’m so with it/First class flight overseas, I’m low with it…Plush life, laugh and I smile a lot/Light it up, bottle pop.”
Then on “Reckless,” with Raekwon, he touts himself: “Rap style proper and I’m a gun popper/West side highway flyin coke chopper.” “I Need Weed,” a song that really needs no description, is obviously yet another corny anthem for smokers.
While many of us like to harken back to what some consider better times, you still have to come up with something new to say, or at least an exciting way to deliver it. Styles P offers neither on Float. Just standard issue New York rap at its most mediocre. He wastes a seemingly perfect set of complementary guest spots (Raekwon, Jadakiss, N.O.R.E.) on a series of uninspired tracks. Rather than remind us of what “real rap” is all about, he just makes it clear it’s time to move on.
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