With a 'Supreme' offering this Christmas, the Ghost take us back to years past.
Sequel albums aren't a new trend in hip-hop, they've been here for years as LL would say. Still however since the release of Raekwon's 'Only Built For Cuban Linx 2' (a classic sequel to a classic), everyone from Kid Cudi to Fat Joe has taken a leaf out of the chef's cookbook. One man who is clearly inspired is fellow Wu-Tang Shaolin master Ghostface Killah. The guy should know a little something about this sequel piece since he collaborated so much on both 'Cuban Linx' LP's it should have been a group effort (although he does get the album featuring nod). Ghost is set to release 'Supreme Clientele Part II' a sequel to his own classic next year in a busy schedule that also sees him release 'Blue & Cream' and as a yet untitled group project with Sheek Louch of D-Block. Oh and he has an album out this week as well.
This 'Killah' schedule is nothing new for Mr. Dennis Coles. Since the release of 'Supreme Clientele' in 2001, 'Face has released 8 albums this decade. The man also released three brilliant albums in the space of one year and last year dropped the more soulful, 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' and all of his albums have been of a high quality as well. These testaments to his hard work don't stop here as his Wu-Tang albums and Method Man and Ghostface collabo 'Meth.Ghost.Rae' are no diluted efforts either as they are as strong and potent as the rest. This guy may just be the hardest working man in hip-hop.
Following, 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' Ghostface once again rhymes through the concepts. Right before the release of 'Supreme 2' Ghostface gives us 'Apollo Kids' (his 9Th album) for the holidays. The album is named after a track off 'Clientele' and could be a precursor of things to come. This is because despite releasing quality album, after quality album this is Ghostface's best in years. Almost as classic sounding as 'Clientele', 'Apollo Kids' is more than just a Christmas stocking filler before the new year work begins.
The album starts with the ever Killah soulful but raw 'Purified Thoughts'. The sample on the record says "Am I a good man" and Ghost proves he's more than that with great lyrical skill. With GZA & Killah Priest in tow Ghost brings that classic 90's, Wu rap back making it as relevant as the first time it hit the hip-hop scene. He also displays that raw, trademark swagger as he opens with the lyrics, "Take my hands out my pockets you can see my thumbs/both of them turned green from counting the ones". If hip-hop classics begin to sell as well as their reputation than Coles will have more than ones to count after this.
The Ghost takes us to years past even further on 'Superstar' where he rhymes over a beat that sounds like it was lifted from an old 70's, Blaxpoitation, detective show. Ghost gets real flashy, shafting the competition over some samples that will never go out of fashion. Busta Rhymes also delivers a great guest spot, sounding great in the second wind of his career. The Game also breaks out his more gravely flow (maybe he has a cold), as he drops his best set of bars in years (and he always goes hard) on 'Drama' which features another classic, timeless beat and always brilliant Killah lyrics.
Ghostface takes us back even further on 'Black Tequila'. A track where the sample feels so old you can hear the scratches. It's a track that harks back to somewhere between the wild west and Old Mexico and it works as well. Ghost even asks "Where's my horse" as the track begins, shouting Mexican phrases so much it sounds like he's ordering carpets. Ghostface floors it though on a track so good it sounds like classic hip-hop as well. The legend is at home here in the fall.
Ghostface shows no sign of slowing down on '2getha Baby' a track of two parts. A beautiful soulful sampling chorus as per Ghostface's reputation. Still this type of sample doesn't ever get old for this artist as Dennis Coles crates are as deep as his discography. Plus the Wu warrior balances this out with his incredible flow as a sinisterly classic beat from producer Yakub offsets the songs hook.
On 'Starkology' Ghostface Killah goes scientific, furthering his legend on what will be a fan favourite track. Scram Jones' production makes it sound like Ghostfae is rhyming next to R2D2 as Staten Island's finest strikes gold going to war with the stars. Ghost harks back to the roots of classic hip-hop even further with bandsman Black Thought on the grimy, classic Frank Dukes production (he contributes 3 of the best beats on this album) of 'In Tha Park'. As both lyricists reference old school legends and classic lines. The Wu Tang legend even gets diplomatic with Jim Jones on the Pete Rock, Asian and 70's sounding 'Handcuffin' Them Hoes', a nice track despite the ungentlemanly like title.
The album is shorter than most Ghost albums and the guy starts strong. Still as the album reaches it's 12 track conclusion Ghostface doesn't fade in his finish, nor does he go quietly into the night. He saves the hardest for last. First he pushes other rappers in the lockers with 'Street Bullies'. As Killah and the other Ghost's rhyme partner Sheek Louch show us what we've got to look forward to. Then after 10 Ghost reunites the rhyming with Raekwon for the last two album cuts. Fans fear not as both swordsman are lyrically sharp on 'Ghetto' and on point on 'Troublemakers', where they are joined by a smoking hot Method Man and Redman as the legends check and pass the rhyme.
Even with no RZA production and little free time on his hands this rapper produces some of his greatest work to date this week. On 'Apollo Kids' he shows Wu-Tang really is for the children...if these children are experts on old school hip-hop that is. Ghostface Killah once again murders the rap game, showing no mercy in the holiday season. Despite another great year for hip-hop albums (especially commercially), Ghostface releases one of the best, right on time before the year is out. Sure this album may be respected more on the underground than the billboards, but hey isn't that where hip-hop started? On 'Apollo Kids' Ghostface finishes it, along with the competition as he shows that no matter how good you are, to be the best you have to go through New York, the Wu-Tang and most dangerously... him. TIM DAVID HARVEY.