Hip-hop’s transition from the golden age in the ’80s to the hardcore era in the mid-to-late ’90s revolutionized the culture and pushed it further into the mainstream. The hard-hitting tales from artists like Nas, DMX, The Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan and more gave listeners a front-row seat to growing up in poverty and surviving the inner-city streets.
Two rappers from that game-changing era now have a collaborative album that resurrects the essence of that period for a new generation of listeners. Styles P of The LOX and Mobb Deep’s Havoc are joining forces as Wreckage Manner, and their self-titled debut album, which dropped earlier this month, is exactly what one would expect out of a project from two hip-hop legends.
There’s no shortage of razor-sharp metaphors or head-nodding production on Wreckage Manner, a result of both veterans being longtime fans of each other’s work and bringing out the best in each other.
“I was just sitting around at home thinking of my favorite artists, and all signs kept pointing to Styles P amongst a few others,” Havoc tells Billboard. “So I hit P up to do an album, and he was receptive to it, and then I sent him a song the same day. It was a mind-altering and life-changing moment because he sent the song back in about 30 minutes.”
That record would turn out to be “Havoc and the Ghost,” a slow burn that finds the two floating through the hypnotic beat. According to Styles, the production was so intoxicating that there was nothing he could do at the moment he first heard it but record.
“When he sent that song, I was like ‘Holy f—ing sh–,'” Styles says with excitement. “He just took me to that place, and I had to immediately do it. But then he sent a second one, and it was like, ‘Oh no, oh s–t,’ and they kept coming. There’s a lot of dope producers, but only a handful of producers give me a certain gut feeling that’s on another level.”
The album, entirely produced by Havoc, was initially supposed to be a four-track EP, but the “Havoc and the Ghost” record lit a fire within Wreckage Manner that pushed them to make their debut a full-length. New fans would never guess that Styles P and Havoc are each 47 years old with how clear and concise they sound on the album.
“I think it’s about not giving a f–k when you go in the lab,” Styles P says when asked about the secret to making a quality album. “‘This beat is f–king dope, and I’m going to rhyme on it.’ I wasn’t thinking about what the youth is going to think, or what my peers are going to think. I’m thinking about how dope I am and how I’m about to murder this.”
Styles continues, “You can’t make music with none of that s–t in mind. I’m not worried about being in competition with f–king Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole — it’s their time. But you’re supposed to be competitive for the sake of the f–king craft. There’s motherf–kers in other genres that are on the road at f–king 69, 72, and they touring the country. Why in rap because you’re a certain age it’s over for you? It’s over if you were never f–king good. Rapping is a sport, and if you’re not constantly practicing and working on your game, then what the f–k are you doing?”
The 10-track album is 30 minutes long — a sharp contrast to the projects of Wreckage Manner’s younger peers, who tend to drop longer LPs along with quick-turn deluxe editions these days. There won’t be any of that with Styles and Havoc, as they purposely kept things short so fans would want more.
“That’s what’s dope about having 10 songs,” said Havoc. “You get through it, and then you’re like, ‘Oh s–t,’ and then you play it again. It could’ve been more songs, but 10 keeps you on your toes, and it makes you remember every song you f–king heard.”
While fans continue to consume the new album, Wreckage Manner promises to return very soon with a sequel. As Styles puts it, “We’ll be back at you motherf–kers.”