Styles P’s music is a representation of the stoic, yet hypocritical ideals of America. Like the country’s Founding Fathers, Ghost P plays with fiery words that stir encouragement, and proud — ‘hood — patriotism. Yet, in the next sentence, Ghost beams with joy while describing the kickback from the burner letting off shots, taking over drug blocks, or robbing opps. He means every word that he speaks. And like the U.S., you cant’s discuss Styles P come-up without unearthing his violent past.
“The smartest street dude is the dude who knows how to be smart,” Pinero said. “The concept of street is misconstrued — if you don’t live outside. I know dudes who will get your head blown the fuck off who never had a fist fight.
In the midst of dealing with his daughter’s suicide in 2017, the L.O.X. member somehow found the strength to continue campaigning his thought-provoking similes and metaphors about street politics, spirituality, loud packs, guns, and rules for manhood. But what do you expect from the man who refers to himself as a Gangster and a Gentleman? Following his joint EP with Talib Kweli, The Seven, Pinero released his Nickel Bag EP, and ninth studio album, G-Host (Phantom Entertainment) on May 4. As expected, the 16-song composition is drenched in gritty, soulful street music.
“You have to think, too,” Styles continued. “A real street dude knows when you out of bounds. That sh** don’t fly there. You might be the king of the castle where you live but that don’t fly everywhere, so it’s upholding this etiquette.”
Dressed in a comfy black Nike sweatsuit, the self-proclaimed hardest MC came through VIBE to discuss his aggressive mindset, rock, and soul music.
VIBE: I hear the gun and knife-play in your music, but I always walk away with morals and life lessons with your music. That’s what I get. What do you think white people get from listening to your music?
Styles P: I think it depends on how they live and where they live. You know what I mean? I think I have a lot of white fans so…
Yeah, that’s why I asked. Why do you think that is?
I think they just get it. I think some of them get it ‘cause some people like a picture to be painted for them. I’m able to paint a picture and a story. I’m always surprised, because I’m a very boisterous person, especially when it comes to black sh*t people sh**. I think they take time to hear it. I think some of them are able to grasp and hold on to it. And then I’m a pothead and a hippie, too.
But at the end of the day, there are some thorough white cats.
Definitely. And I like to do white people sh**. I love ‘80s rock. I love light rock.
Word? Not many people know, but I love Indie Rock. Arctic Monkeys, Of Monsters and Men, the Head and the Heart.
I like the whole ‘80s MTV vibe. From Phil Collins to fu*king Bon Jovi.
How’d you get into rock?
Coming up from just watching MTV and between hip-hop and fusion of it all. I feel like Hall and Oates and ‘80s white people coke music are heavily tied into rap. Like, ‘80s white people coke music was some of the illest fu*king music you will ever here. It’s just so raw, a period in time where it was like the world was not giving a fu*k.
That’s dope. I learned something new today. But you’ve always had an old soul, I know you’re into soul music, too?
I love old soul music. I like listening to Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. I listen to that more than anything–just for my mental space. And I love Otis Redding and James Brown. If it has soul to it, it has some meaning to it, I fuck with it.
Hip-hop is soul music, too. Especially when MCs can pinpoint exactly how we are living on our block. That shi*t is soul-touching.
Yeah, intricate detail. None of that goo-goo gaa-gaa sh*t.
Aggression is a big thing in our environments. Some of us never figure it out. It sounds like you have. So, have you pinpointed like the root of your aggression, and how to deal with it?
For me, I thought it was my ego — being short — and the way I ate.
The way you ate?
Yeah, I felt like the food I was eating was somewhat throwing off my balance. I felt like I wasn’t all the way balanced. I would get angrier. I felt like I couldn’t control it. I felt like I used to suffer from rage.
See, these are the obscure forces that cops and judges don’t understand. And jails don’t fix.
All facts. I would fuck-up anything, especially before I made it to rap. Just being from the ‘hood, I already had a certain aggression. You have to hold your area down, you have to watch your block. You have to do certain things, make your bones on your street.
Do you remember when you first started acting aggressively?
So, I always had the idea, before I even thought I could make it rapping, my sh** was ‘how am I going to get this bread? ‘How am I going to get to this next block?’ It’s that kind of mentality that gives you a warrior mentality. I gotta do what I gotta do–I’ll light this sh** off, or I’ll poke this man. I’ll do whatever I gotta do to survive. But you have to learn that doesn’t make you more of a man. It doesn’t make you less of a man. It’s an aspect that you have to deal with.
It’s crazy because we grind to get out of those environments, but, especially with rappers, we feel that we have to bring our crews with us. So a lot of the times, our aggressive energy doesn’t change.
Facts. But as a rapper, I’ve seen other people get played, and I’ve seen street dudes put pressure on rappers. I was like: ‘I’m a street dude first. I’m the last muthafu**er you want to think about trying to put pressure on.’ But as you get older, you start to relax, and start seeing other ways to handle situations.
Do you feel like your messages today are more urgent than your messages were 10 years ago?
Yeah definitely. I know what it’s like to be there, and I know what it’s like being in a certain position, and I know what’s it like to be like: ‘I’m going to pop this thing.’ I know that the level of ignorance that brings you repercussions and consequences. It’s not a good end to the story. Like it never is. Maybe one out of ten catch the wave and are able to get out of the game in time. Other than that, you’re most likely to go to jail, get shot, have to shoot somebody. All that sh** is a fucking headache. Paying bail. Paying lawyers. Lose your freedom. Get displaced from your family.
You understand your emotions now.
I keep certain stuff in my mind like what jail smells like. How long I’ll be away from my family, so I’m not moving emotionally. If I do react, it wouldn’t be out of emotion. It would be from calm thinking and that was the decision I had to make for survival.
Not only that but being aggressive is exhausting.
It’s exhausting. It’s too exhausting. Going over there with my strap, getting my other strap. What the fu*k am I doing? I have kids. I have a home. Why am I even going to this place if I got to go like that? Enjoy your freedom, enjoy the air, enjoy money, enjoy family, enjoy just fu*king being able to not worry. I used to hate not having a gun on me. For years, I’ve never not had two guns on me. That sh*t was wearing me down–mentally. And it even starts to attract energy you don’t need.
What did it do for you? When did you realize that you needed to transform your thought process?
Well, I think I started realizing that when I was a teenager. My first time in the county was actually before we got on, so like I got arrested for a hammer and some armed robberies. By the grace of God, I just got charged with a burner. I was sitting in there thinking to myself: ‘I can’t do this.’ I like to be high. I love to be free. I was really at that point in my life I said to myself I ain’t going to be a jail dude.
Did that help?
It didn’t deter me from being a criminal, but it deterred me from having that mentality like you gotta earn stripes. You know, I’ve been in a group home when I was younger, too. So for me, that sh** was all the way wack. We were already working on the music, and I’m like: ‘I’m just going to get out and start working on our sh**’. Then I got out and got knocked a month later.
How old were you during this time?
I was 18. Then, I got knocked in a raid with some dope. I was sitting on another felony, but the raid was illegal. They did some foul sh**, and it got dropped to a misdemeanor. Then, I got probation then I was like: “Aight, now I’m really buggin’. Let me pull my sh** together.” So then, I was just focused on the music. But I was always in the streets. I’d be outside, be with the homies and I’d flow. And if anything happened, I would always attack first. I always had that impact and showed people not to fuck with me, and then I realized that mentality was too much.
Styles, do you understand how important your music is to us?
To the streets, yes, I do. But I’m playing my part, you know what I mean? Whatever messages people gave me I try to give back. I feel like I’m a vessel. I don’t like to feel special because I’m human. We’re all special in some sort of way, and I think when you get that mentality that’s when people become egotistical and big headed. I feel like my fans are just as important to me as I am to them because it’s a two-way thing. It’s energy and flow. I don’t exist without them. I’m important to the streets, but we all important to each other. I’m important to the streets, and the streets know that they are important to me.
All of that is true. But P, I vividly remember being on Greyhound with work, soaking up advice from your music and trying to figure out an exit plan? Not just me, it’s a nation of us.
I hear it. It’s energy and flow. I’m important to you, and you have — especially telling me this — have to know that you are important to me. I try to keep myself leveled and humbled. It’s easy to forget that you’re not bigger than the cause. I do know what it is, so I feel like it is my job to speak on certain street sh*t. I specialize in blue-collar hip-hop, which is for the average dude on the everyday grind and struggle and who are used to the pain.