Styles P and Havoc join us for a new edition of “12 Days Of Christmas” where they discuss their joint project “Wreckage Manner,” DMX, Biggie’s “Last Day,” and much more.
In 2020, there were conversations about The LOX facing off against Mobb Deep in the Verzuz arena. Of course, Prodigy is no longer with us, so that hypothetical battle would’ve ultimately relied on Havoc to rep the Queensbridge duo on stage. That battle never happened and the LOX became the unanimous victors in their Verzuz against Dipset.
We likely will never see the LOX and Mobb Deep go hit-for-hit but we did get something better than an hour-and-a-half set — a full collaborative project from Styles P and Havoc. Together, they form Wreckage Manner. On December 3rd, Havoc and Styles P’s new collaborative effort dropped in its entirety. Havoc’s gritty and eerie production serves as the backdrop as he and P swap bars, detailing the similarities and differences of their respective stomping grounds. There’s something to be said about Havoc’s production in 2021. It carries the aura of “golden era sh*t,” as Styles said during our interview, without sounding dated. This, of course, is further emphasized by the sharp lyrical sword they wield over the course of 10 songs.
It’s been nearly 30 years since both rappers have stepped into the rap game, though they certainly aren’t strangers to each other. For Styles, Havoc’s a legend who opened the doors for the LOX to get into the game. Hav, however, first heard of the Yonkers crew, and Styles, when he produced Biggie’s “Last Day” off of Ready To Die.
“The first time I remember hearing about The LOX, is when I was producing a record for Biggie, and later on, I would come to find out that The LOX was on the record with Biggie,” Hav told HNHH. “Ever since, it was like, I was enamored by, you know, what I heard coming out of that camp.”
Over the course of the 30-minute-plus interview with Havoc and Styles P, the two largely shared each other’s praise in the highest regard.
“Hav was a legend before we got here,” he said. “He was somebody I was, you know — not being funny but working stock jobs, slinging dope, robberies, doing all kind of dumb shit and just trying to make it. And they kinda… you know, that’s Mobb Deep, they do what they do. That’s fucking the cream of the crop of New York City.”
We recently caught up with the Wreckage Manner duo to discuss their new project, their first time crossing paths, Styles’ Grammy nomination for DONDA, and so much more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
HNHH: How does this project come about? How do you and Havoc connect for this body of work?
Styles P: Well, Hav hit me with a song and I kinda like, I loved the joint, sent it right back and we just kind of worked from there and just kind of was like just — this a pretty simple flow, you know?
Is that how most collaborative efforts go with you? Outside of The LOX, you’ve done collaborative projects with Berner and Curren$y, as well.
SP: For me, it’s like people — things that kind of make sense, you know what I mean? People you vibe with and just things that kind of happen organically. Like, the Vibes project with me and Berner is organic. Me and Curren$y joint’s organic. Me & Talib’s organic. Me & Dave East’s project is organic. I think as an MC, I got a lot of shit I’d be wanting to say, obviously. So I just kind of try to get my shit off as much as possible. I think, you know, steel sharpens steel. As an MC, you’re supposed to be competitive and very crafty — care about your craft. So when I make music, I like to just get into this zone. If I fuck with somebody, got love for them, got respect for them, it’s an easier zone to hit, and when you’re on the same page and when the vibration is there, like you know what I mean? When it’s good vibrations, shit just works.
Mobb Deep has a very specific sound and obviously, that’s something that Havoc had such a huge role in creating. For yourself, how did you find like just stepping into that zone almost, in comparison to some of your other projects and other collaborations?
SP: I’m looking at it is more like… I’m not — God Bless the Dead — I’m not trying to fill P’s shoes. I’m not tryna to make them new Mobb Deep. Havo’s not trying to make the new LOX. [We just] decided to make some dope shit, you know? That’s where you get Wreckage Manner. We’re in a zone of our own.
So then let’s talk about that title, what does that say about not only the project but the forces that are Styles P and Havoc connecting on wax together?
SP: Yeah, it means a lot. I mean, you know, wreckage is a synonym for havoc. Manner is a synonym for styles. And I think it’s just, you know, authentic hip hop. It’s golden era shit with the feel of something young people could fuck with.
How did you guys physically cross paths? Obviously, you guys are working on the Biggie album together, but what’s the first impression with The Lox meeting Mobb? Or even just you meeting Hav and vice versa?
SP: Utmost respect. We love Mobb. They represent what the fuck we stand for. You know, they’re a big part of this hip-hop thing in the Meccaand worldwide. They helped pave the fucking way for what we do, man, so always the utmost respect. And with that era and that time period together where it’s different than how it is nowadays. That respect and admiration for somebody you know who been in trenches, been in the jungle made their way out, made a way, paved their way doing hip hop shit. It means a lot. They paved the way and made a way for a lot of people and that’ll always mean something in our hearts.
*Havoc joins call*
For sure. Hav, Welcome.
Havoc: How you doing?
I’m good, how are you doing, man?
H: I’m doing good.
I was talking to Styles, he was explaining that it started off as a song and then gradually, organically grew into a full body of work. So can you just talk to me about your perspective in terms of hitting Styles up to work on a few tracks and how that turned into the project now?
H: I was like, ‘Yo, who can I do a meaningful project with?’ You know, repeatedly in my mind, Styles P, Styles P. You know what I mean? The LOX, The LOX. And today, you know, just think about it, like, the things that we can accomplish with it and things that we not finished with — it’s like, yo, it’s like, I’m super proud to be part of this project right here, you feel me? Like, you know, Styles P — A1 artist, you know what I’m saying? It’s like, I can’t even believe — when I think about it, I can’t even believe that I’m doing a project with him.
That’s incredible. I was asking Styles before, do you remember the first time you crossed paths with either Styles P or just The Lox as a whole?
H: I mean, me and Styles P been in the game for so long, so I’ll be sitting here lying if I say, ‘Yeah, I remember the first time I saw The Lox.’ But the first time I remember hearing about The LOX, is when I was producing a record for Biggie, and later on, I would come to find out that The LOX was on the record with Biggie, you understand what I’m saying? So that was the first time I would be aware of them. And ever since, it was like, I was enamored by, you know, what I heard coming out of that camp.
“The first time I remember hearing about The LOX, is when I was producing a record for Biggie, and later on, I would come to find out that The LOX was on the record with Biggie”
Before you hopped on, Styles explained how he wasn’t trying to fill in Prodigy’s shoes by any means. In the press release for “Nightmares 2 Dreams,” Hav, you said, “making this piece of work reminded me of working with Prodigy.” Can you elaborate on that statement? And Styles, feel free to chime in.
H: In my mind, there’s no one that you could rhyme alongside with better than Prodigy, right? So then, now, let’s fast forward. We all know everything that happened and stuff like that. But fast forward, you know, I’m doing a project with Styles P, right? One of the most outstandinglyricists that you could even mention in the group of MCs. So whether you like it or not, is one of the best MCs. Now, we finished with that. So now Havoc wants to do a project, and I’m like, Okay, I want to f*ck with Styles P. And luckily, he said, ‘I’ll do it.’ He could’ve easily said no, you know what I mean? But he respects the art, he respect the culture, we have mutual respect. And we did it.
Regardless of whatever happens, Styles P is one of those artists that if you get a chance to do a project with — count your blessings. Because I mean, artists like Styles P do not come a dime a dozen, you understand what I’m saying? And you have to, I’m not gonna say capitalize ‘cause that sounds like you’re taking advantage. If you are lucky to be in his graces, make sure you do something good with it.
P, is there anything you’d like to add to that?
SP: Come on, man. Hav was a legend before we got here. He was somebody I was, you know — not being funny but working stock jobs, slinging dope, robberies, doing all kind of dumb shit, and just trying to make it. And they kinda… you know, that’s Mobb Deep, they do what they do. That’s fucking the cream of the crop of New York City. This is legendary shit. So the same thing like, I was honored and privileged to get the call. Like, that was just something I wouldn’t miss in the world. I couldn’t fucking wait to do it.
That’s a challenge like you know what I’m saying? Like I’m not trying to fill P’s shoes but you got to make sure you could rhyme if you want to get on a Havoc beat. Like, you can’t just get on a Havoc beat and just bullshit around or think you want to get on Havoc production and rhyme alongside or get on the beat and just be lollygagging around. I take that shit seriously. I take what he’s done for the culture, what they’ve done for the culture seriously. And like he said, this is something we’ll be able to continue to keep doing. We got great chemistry, we work pretty awesome. And Havoc is super suave and cool to be the legend he is, you know what I mean? And it’s very humbling and touching to get spoken about by somebody about that, like — from Havoc! That’s fucking Havoc from Mobb Deep! So, we just gonna keep pushing and keep rocking and making dope shit and fucking yall up.
“I’m not trying to fill P’s shoes but you got to make sure you could rhyme if you want to get on a Havoc beat. Like, you can’t just get on a Havoc beat and just bullshit around”
– Styles P
H: Thank you, P, for that. I appreciate you for that. Let me just add, you got two artists that respect each other immensely, right? Let me tell you something: how dope is it to wake up one day and be like, ‘Yo, I did a record with Styles P,’ you understand what I’m saying? Because, even before that, I can say this to myself. I’m like, yo, I love The LOX, right? So, people like to try to pit people against each other and this, that, and the third, but I love The Lox. Even if we wasn’t even doing this album together, I love the fucking LOX, yo. All day long. Let me tell you something, The Lox? [Laughs] That’s all you gotta do all day long. This is the realest of the realest. And to think that you know, Styles, Jada, and Sheek Louch would even consider fucking with anybody, that’s how you know it’s real. Because let me tell you something: The LOX is the bar of the streets. And I will repeat that again. The LOX is the bar of the streets. That’s it. I’m gonna leave it alone at that.
SP: We the bar. We the bar together, brother.
H: Thank you for that. But The LOX is the bar of the streets.
Is there a possibility that a sequel is on the way?
SP: Yeah, for sure.
H: [Laughs]Oh, can I interject? Let me just say like this — we not thinking about numbers, though numbers would be great. But let me tell you something that we could throw in they face: another project after this. How about that? That’s it, ‘cause we’re not going off of these, whatever these people is trying to say what’s what and this and that. Another project is gonna be so crazy. I have to fucking put on a fucking, what do you call those things? A straitjacket on me. That’s what gonna have to put — a straitjacket on me. That’s it.
Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
Have there been any discussions about Havoc fully producing the next LOX project?
H: I would never want to do that. I would never, so you don’t even have to look for discussion. The LOX don’t deserve a fully produced Havoc project. What they deserve is a project that they consider produced by anybody that they want to be produced by. So don’t, don’t do that.
SP: We would definitely take a lot of joints. A lot, a lot of joints from Havoc, but with The LOX, it’s three members of the group. We all like to pick certain shit. Actually, we spoke about, between the group, a joint with Havoc, The Alchemist, DJ Premier, Vinny Idol, and it was like one other person, two others — Swizz and Dame Grease and somebody else like them. Bang out a few albums. We work like that because you want to cook up. You want to cook the fuck up, you know what I mean? Like even as myself, even as Wreckage Manner, a lot of people gonna want to work, especially dope MCs, are gonna hear this and hit Hav to work us. I want to hear that shit, too. Like, this is what we do. We’re not just artists and musicians, we are also businessmen. What we represent is artistry and also being a brand. So, we’re gonna give you fucking hip hop. You need some authentic hip-hop brands out there. You need some kind of, some authentic rhythm in the algorithm and that’s us.
H: And can I just say one more thing real quick? And I ain’t tryna bribe no coattails or nothing like this, but Styles P is the Picasso of hip hop. Really, really, really, really, the Picasso of hip-hop.
SP: Don’t do that.
H: No, no no, he is the Picasso of hip hop. Look at him lighting the shits. Look at him lighting the thing. Look at him lighting the thing [points to Styles P’s joint]. He is the Picasso of hip hop. He’s unorthodox, you understand what I’m saying? He lets you hear his flaws. He shares his life with you. That is the Picasso of hip hop right there. End of story, bye-bye, see you later. [Blows kiss] love y’all.
“[Styles P] is the Picasso of hip hop. He’s unorthodox, you understand what I’m saying? He lets you hear his flaws. He shares his life with you. That is the Picasso of hip hop right there. End of story, bye-bye, see you later.”
Styles, you’re going to have to chime in on that one.
SP: Nah, I’m just a — I’m a craftsman. I will say that. I love my craft. Like, I probably overlove my craft.
H: Let me tell you something — Styles P, he comes off as the guy, right?. Let me tell you this. He is an artist. And I’m gonna leave it but don’t mistake the artistry for the realness. I’m leaving, I’m going. Last thing.
What I noticed, Styles, just about this project, in particular, is that you’re rapping from such an active perspective. Even though you’re removed from the street life that inspired your earlier work, It’s just as vivid.
SP: It’s Havoc-produced beats! Like, you know, when you’re working on your craft, you’re working on your catalog and you get to work with the greats, you live in the moment but when you are an artist, you also think about leaving this catalog behind, and that’s not an opportunity where you want to say you didn’t wake up and give it your best. Or really you know let your soul go and be and let what you want to say out. I’m just a firm believer in getting it off and I love the fucking beats. The production was, it was just kind of, it’s really fucking bonkers and over the top. You hear it. It’s like golden ever shit but now. So for me, I think what keeps me with longevity, I love to stick to the script with what I do. I don’t like to try to do the new people shit or bite the new n***a sound, that shit is wack to me. I like to incorporate my sound but make sure that, you know, it’s something that the youth could relate to. I ain’t trying to be you, young boy. I could be your father’s age, your uncle’s age. I’m your OG and I’m presented as that but I’m a cool ass OG. And I think Hav’ embodies all of that like, you know what I mean? I think Hav and I think the sound, it just embodies hip hop. It truly embodies New York’s golden era hip hop in a futuristic way. It’s fucking insane.
No, for sure. I want to ask though — wait, is Havoc off the convo?
SP: Yeah. He split. That’s how Hav’ do.
Lyrically, you’re known for spitting like real, street sh*t but there were always spiritual undertones presented. In “Nightmares 2 Dreams” you say, “from sanity, trying to find harmony for self.” And as I said, you capture that your music, but again, this one you’re actively rapping from a first-person perspective in the street. So can you just expound on that bar for me a little bit?
SP: That’s life. I think all of us kind of, you know — especially people who have a hard time, not just street life or anybody. The average human being, you got to deal with some sort of insanity or something that’s going crazy in your life. And I think the main thing, everybody wants to really strive — well, I can’t say everybody. I think what would be golden for everybody. And what I try to strive for is kind of just to be in peace and feel cool. So I think, you know, from going from the insanity, to trying to find harmony is you know, that’s the growth, that’s the transition. That’s the worm to the butterfly, it’s the yin and yang at the same time. So I think it’s, you know, understanding that’s the 180 plus, the harmony. You know, so I think we got to all try to strive to find our 180 plus when you know that 180 negative well, so that’s pretty much all I’m saying.
So what’s bringing you harmony these days?
SP: Being home, chillin’, making music, relaxing, meditating, binge-watching shit, modern appliances, smoking skinnies, eating plants, smoking plants, my dogs. Soft slippers, pajamas, socks, book bags of all sorts, joggers, sweat suits, more sweatsuits, sweatsuits. Even my suit, this is a sweatsuit. See — drawstrings. No belt. I don’t fucking know, just not being mad. You know, not being mad and just trying to — juice, of course. Fruit, veggies, plants. I don’t fucking know. I’m a weird guy. It changes, you know.
I did want to congratulate you though cuz you did get a Grammy nomination, another Grammy nomination for DONDA. But I want to ask you —
SP: How does that work? Do you get it for the whole album or?
I don’t know if you get an award, but they said Marilyn Manson got a nomination for his contributions to the album. So I assume that if Marilyn Manson did very vague background vocals, an incredibly dope Styles P verse definitely is worthy of a Grammy.
SP: Well, that’s good. That’s dope. I appreciate it.
When you were announcing the project, you said you don’t care about having the album of the year but you want to out rap everybody. Does a Grammy nomination matter to you?
SP: I mean like, it’s dope. Like I think my biggest thing is really, I don’t try to get caught up in the accolades. I’m like, not-a-last-project-type of guy. I’m like, ‘that’s over, what am I gonna do next?’ And just leave the catalog behind because what people say about you now — you know, people got a lot of shit to say. Some’s good. Some’s bad. Some’s in between and you can’t afford to get — for me personally, I can’t afford to get caught up in that. It’ll distract me from work. So, at this point in my life, I’m just kind of making music ‘cause I’m fucking addicted to it. And it’s kind of like a habit in a form of meditation and therapy for me, you can sort of say. And other than that, I do it so you could say it’s dope. I make other livings doing other shit that, you know, I could do more. I just enjoy music, you know?
No, for sure.
SP: I’m not the hottest artist, I don’t plan to be in the top 40. I’m not a super A-lister. I don’t think the kids give a fuck what I’m doing on TMZ. I don’t even care. So you understand what I’m saying? I think you just got to live. I think you got to live life in the reality of what’s your reality, your own matrix and what makes you happy, and what floats your boat. I’ve been stuck, I guess, most you could say. I know how to not give a fuck in good ways and bad ways. You know, I just do not give a fuck in a positive way and just keep it moving.
“I’m not the hottest artist, I don’t plan to be in the top 40. I’m not a super A-lister. I don’t think the kids give a fuck what I’m doing on TMZ. I don’t even care. So you understand what I’m saying? I think you just got to live. I think you got to live life in the reality of what’s your reality, your own matrix and what makes you happy, and what floats your boat.”
– Styles P
Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
How’ve you been holding up since X’s passing?
SP: X is good, he’s gonna be good. Energy never dies, as far as I’m concerned. In the past few years, I think a lot of people have lost a lot of people. It’s even too much to kind of talk about, how many people I’ve seen pass in past few years but you got to understand the Creator always got a plan. He knows more than we know. And I kind of leave it at that and just say my prayers and know I see everybody on the other side and the energy never dies and keep pushing like that. Like I said, use the music for therapy. You know, I think shit like that, that’s what I’m saying like, we all deal with insanity to a level where you gotta search for the harmony, going back to what you say, so, dealing with all that shit, you just gotta find a way to deal with — I like to laugh, to be honest, I like to get stoned and I like to laugh a lot. So, that’s how I deal with shit. I go home, watch shit with my wife, and I laugh. Smoke skinnies and laugh. That’s how I get by.
Can you tell me about, maybe a laugh you shared with DMX during your time together?
SP: It’s too many times to tell you. I’ve known DMX before we got on. It’s not like a music thing but every time I saw X, I laughed. I would say for the making of “Bout Shit” on the LOX album, we just sat back and you know, we made this song, we knocked the song out. I thought he was gonna come knock the hook out, you know what I mean? I’m like he’s just gonna come knock the hook out. He came through, we was chillin’. We just started talking about you know, our childhoods, Yonkers, people in Yonkers, shit. Everything besides music, you know what I mean? Just about really our town, people in the town, shit going on in the town and you know, we stood to the wee hours and he was making fun of this guy he was with and it was just — you know, X is a classy dude, still classy dude, forever classy. So, his personality was huge. I think the Swizz made him a huge star and he’s still here with us.
How does his spirit live through your music?
SP: I think all ancestors and all our peers and everybody — like I said, X is full of energy. His spirit will always be in us beyond music. It’s just making it together. Like, we wouldn’t have — I’ll put it like this. We wouldn’t have been on without X. X brought us to Ruff Ryders. Ruff Ryders was our managers. X put us on to Ruff Riders. We got on first. X didn’t never give a fuck. He never acted funny, he never acted shady, he never cried. He never complained. He never acted sideways. He was always happy. He was always proud. And he knew he was gonna make it. X was a star before he was ever on. Where we from, he was a legend before he ever recorded anything professionally in the music business where I’m from. Certified legend. So, you know, his spirit will always live in us. I’ve spent many days and nights in a studio with him. I’ve rhymed in cyphers with him, banging on car hoods. I’ve rhymed in cyphers with him in the county pen. So you asked how a spirit – how could the spirit not living in me? would be the question.
“DMX was a star before he was ever on. Where we from, he was a legend before he ever recorded anything professionally in the music business where I’m from. Certified legend. So, you know, his spirit will always live in us”
– Styles P
Ghostface Killah and Raekwon just said they want to see The LOX in the Verzuz arena. What’s your response to that?
SP: I’m good with that. Those my brothers. I love Ghost and Rae but this is what we do. This is what it’s supposed to be. This is what we built for, ain’t it? Right?
Would you go The LOX Verzuz Ghost and Rae? Or do you think it would be a better fit to do The Lox versus Wu-Tang as a whole?
SP: It doesn’t matter to me, man. Y’all set it up and we just prepare and go to work, man.
Fair enough. Thank you so much for your time.
SP: All right, cool. Thank you. Appreciate it. Love is love, bro.