A proven hip-hop lifer, Styles P has had endless label conflicts and legal difficulties, yet he endured throughout the ‘00s as a standard-bearer for classic New York hip-hop. Master of Ceremonies is Styles’ first official solo release since 2007’s Super Gangster, but in the interim he's maintained a radio presence by releasing a steady stream of no-nonsense, self-distributed mixtapes. Master of Ceremonies feels like a continuation of the gritty New York classicism exhibited on these recent mixes. Styles’ flow is reliably invigorating, and veteran producers like Pete Rock and Warren G contribute sturdy beats that evoke the mid-‘90s glory days of New York rap without becoming mired in nostalgia. Styles P also excels at sharing the mic with collaborators, giving them space to perform without ceding control of the track. For example, on “Harsh” Rick Ross is allowed to indulge in his Donnish braggadocio while Styles simply leans back and delivers a nimble-minded verse referencing Audio Two, Rick Rubin, and the 2008 financial crisis in less time than it takes Ross to deliver one of his trademark punchlines.