The massive appeal that Ghostface Killah reaches is undeniably wide and far. The New York rapper has been a prevalent facet to hip-hop since his introduction on Wu-Tang Clan’s classic 1993 debut. The true Ironman, Ghostface has always benefitted from his ability as a superb wordsmith, one that raps with such a passion and energy that it appears he’s about to breakdown with every passing word.
Take his new album with a grain of salt, everything from the extravagant cover to the outlandish title and theme; this is basically Tony Starks and a few of his friends out to have a good time. He begs for another chance on “Do Over,” with Raheem “Radio” DeVaughn providing the sultry and breathy vocals on a song that finds the MC opening with, “I used to get a threesome every other weekend.” But on top of that, even when everything is played as one big joke, there is no denying his charm and amazing amount of skill.
The premise sounds simple enough; Ghostdini is a lover, a pimp that wants to care for all of his women in a loving and affectionate manner. The auto-tune on “Baby” is featured in a manner that recalls old soul standards with a smooth guitar lick. While Ghostface raps for his lover to come back, “Hurry home so you can rub my big belly and kiss it,” it’s ever so apparent that this is the same kind of MC we’ve all grown to love.
Unlike some of his previous albums, especially the crucially hard Fishscale, the music on Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City is taken from old soul samples that provide a classic feel. While Mr. Tony Starks still sounds vitally impassioned, the use of female-fronted choruses, along with touches like sparkling guitars and looping keyboards make for an entirely different sounding album. And it makes sense seeing as how Ghostface is the kind of person that takes an idea and fulfills it to the nth degree. Why not make an album that looks downright R&B on paper and deliver it ten-fold?
Even at his nastiest level, like on the directly crude and blunt “Stapleton Sex,” a song that finds Ghostface criminally violating his partner while she moans and groans to his every move, his wordplay is impeccably brilliant. He’s taken a hold of the scene and is directing and moving it in whichever way he pleases. He even takes one of the shining moments off the aforementioned Fishscale, “Back Like That,” and brings along Ne-Yo and Kanye West to turn it into a soul-inducing remix that has everything from clever lyrics to terrific music.
Working with collaborators that simply elevate Ghostface’s talent to another level, the guests are fantastically paired with songs that sound as if they were written specifically for them. An especially effective song is the duet with John Legend, “Let’s Stop Playing,” where the soft-paced beat only adds to the dimensions Legend’s breathy delivery provides. On top of a shimmering piano and soaring vocal, Ghostface is able to make his flow come off as a smooth operator that is out to achieve one goal: love.
Even with a catalog as full and rich as this – one that features masterpieces galore in both a solo and group setting – it’s clairvoyantly obvious that Ghostface Killah’s ideas are abound. Forever flourishing, there is so much to love about an album as playfully awesome as this one.