Styles P - Phantom and the Ghost (Review)

Styles P - Phantom and the Ghost (Real Hip-hop)

"Phantom and The Ghost" is the latest solo album from LOX emcee Styles P. The album features guest appearances from Sheek Louch, Jadakiss, Vado, Raheem DeVaughn and others as well as production from Harry Fraud, Vinny Idol, Black Saun, Joe Milly and others. It was released on April 29, 2014 via Phantom Entertainment/D-Block Records, EMPIRE and the New Music Cartel.

1) Never Safe - The album kicks off with one of the songs released in promotion of the album and it's pretty good. The beat, by Joe Mill, is synth-heavy and features some other ambient noises in the background that add some atmosphere to the song. Lyrically Styles P is just his usual self on here, kicking some of his trademark violent, braggadocio and weed-infused bars. Not bad, but not as good as I was hoping for an album opener. - 3/5

2) Creep City (featuring Sheek Louch) - The beat on this track, courtesy of Black Saun, features some darker pianos, keyboards and the occasional distorted vocal sample over rapid-fire hi-hats and deep bass. I'm feelin' the instrumental on here and the way it kinda builds up during the verses. Lyrically both Ghost and Sheek rip the beat, especially Sheek who sounds really hungry on here. Very dope track. - 4/5

3) Deeper Self - This is one of the few tracks on the album that features Styles going solo over the beat and it's pretty dope. The instrumental, by Buda Da Future, features more of the darker pianos that were showcased on the previous track, but then adds in some subtle synths and intermittent hi-hats to round out the beat. As far as the rhymes go, Styles sounds good on here as well and raps about "chain smoking the reefer to help me get into my deeper self." It's more of the same from Styles, but its dope. - 3.5/5

4) World Tour (featuring Vado) - Joe Milly returns on the production tip and provides Styles with a cinematic instrumental full of soaring strings, a sprinkle of soft keys and some backing pianos. The beat is real dope and both Holiday Styles and Harlem emcee Vado come correct over it, kicking some street rhymes while interpolating the hook from A Tribe Called Quest's classic track "World Tour" into the chorus. Another very dope cut. - 4/5

5) Don't Be Scared (featuring The Bull Pen) - The beat on this track, courtesy of Vinny Idol, is full of more synths and falling keys that give the song a darker vibe than the previous track. I'm still not entirely sure of how many emcees make up The Bull Pen, but they all sound just as good on here as they did on SP's "Float" album with Scram Jones. The lyrics are more of the usual street rhymes, but they are pretty nice regardless. Not bad for a posse cut. - 3/5

6) Sour (featuring Jadakiss and Rocko) - I believe this was the first single released from the album and its OK. The beat, by Knuclehead, has a real laid back feel to it with some spacey ambient synths and deep bass. Lyrically Jadakiss sets it off first before Rocko and Styles come in to close out the track, with each emcee sticking with the theme of both their haters and their weed being sour. Not my favorite song on here, but not terrible. - 2.75/5

7) Never Trust (featuring Chris Rivers) - After a minute long skit that is pretty pointless in my eyes, the Black Saun beat on this joint finally kicks in and it's quite ill. The instrumental is centered around some ominous strings, more ambient keyboards, hard snares and hi-hats, but I'm feelin' this shit. As far as the rhymes go, SP the Ghost and Big Punisher's son Chris Rivers (who has ripped every song he has been featured on) both come through with more of the usual violent street rhymes. I'm especially diggin' Chris Rivers' verse though. Dope song. - 4/5

8) Rude Boy Hip Hop (featuring Raheem DeVaughn) - Noah "Noodles" Styles delivers a mellow instrumental featuring some interesting percussion and synths that are kinda minimalistic until the chorus kicks in. Styles comes through and delivers more of the same lyrically while Raheem DeVaughn provides an OK chorus. Eh, not really feelin' this track though. - 2/5

9) Other Side (featuring Shae Lawrence) - The instrumental on this track, courtesy of Maxpayne Shawty, is by far the lightest beat on the album thus far, with some nice pianos, acoutic guitars and soft drums. The beat works well enough for an introspective track such as this, as Styles P kicks some rhymes about keeping the memory of the deceased alive while Shae Lawrence provides a nice chorus. Dope - 3/5

10) For the Best - Harry Fraud stops by and delivers a pretty ill instrumental full of a crazy backing sample, guitars and rolling drums. The beat is not the best I've heard from Fraud, but it's not terrible either. As far as the rhymes go, SP the Ghost rides the instrumental nicely and raps about living through the worst while praying for the best. Not bad. - 3/5

11) Smoke All Day (featuring Dyce Payne) - Styles P spits more weed raps over a Dayzel instrumental made up of more soft pianos, ambient synths and pulsating drums. The beat, rhymes and chorus by Dyce Payne are all good enough, but I can't help but feel like I've heard it all before. Still, not bad. - 3/5

12) We Gettin - The final track on the album has another dark, synth-based instrumental (this time by Trey On Da Beatz) that just isn't really clicking for me in any way. Lyrically Styles doesn't really do much to save the beat either, just rapping about how easy it is for him to get money, women and drugs. Bleh. - 2/5

*The final two tracks are bonus tracks that are only available on the digital versions of the album.*

13) Same Scriptures (Bonus Track) - Dayzel returns on the production side and delivers a lighthearted instrumental with some jazzy horns and celebratory strings that I'm really feelin'. The beat is nice and Styles sound much better over it than he did on the previous song, rapping about the street life and the code of the streets while utilizing some nice religious imagery in his rhymes. Too bad this is so short since its real dope. - 4/5

14) So Deep (Bonus Track) - The final bonus track features a real smooth instrumental, provided by Black Saun, that would have fit nicely on the album in my opinion. The beat is ill, with some atmospheric synths and keyboards, and Styles rips it, rapping about how deep his rhymes are and just generally boasting about his mic skills. Yeah, I'm feelin' this one too. - 4/5

I'm going to rate the album

3.25 / 5

because it's got some dope tracks on it, but it has some filler as well. Styles P is his usual self lyrically throughout the whole project, spitting street rhymes that are full of witty lines and ill wordplay. There are really only a few conceptual tracks on here, with Styles never really going outside of his comfort zone to try something new. That's not a knock against SP though, since his ill street rhymes are what he has been known for since the early 90's. The beats don't fare quite as well as the rhymes do, however, with a few of the instrumentals coming off as feeling kind of generic in the overall scope of the album. There are definitely a few bangers on here, but there are a few duds as well. Still, the album is a nice entry into Style's ever-growing discography and shows that he's still got it after all these years.

Favorite tracks: Creep City, World Tour, Never Trust, Street Scriptures, So Deep


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