Admit it. When you heard Ghostface Killah, the Ironman of the Wu-Tang Clan, was doing an “R&B” album you were a little scared. I know I was. Ghost is one of my hip-hop heroes; a man I consider the best storyteller in rap (yes, even better than Raekwon). His ability to mix abstract thought and cryptic slang with the rawest rhymes imaginable is unparalleled, and the thought of him doing a track with an auto-tuned Ray J made me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. I know I’m not alone, and …
DJBooth Album Review
In retrospect I should have trusted Ghost to turn out a quality product. Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in the Emerald City (an album title only rivaled in freshness by Big Boi’s upcoming Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty) is an “R&B” album only in the sense that its entirely about women. In typical Tony Starks fashion, Ghostdini is filled with tales of unrequited love and violent betrayal, of tenderness and sex so dirty it’d make Trina blush. Instead of the embarrassment I envisioned, Ghostface has made an album as enjoyable as any of his previous eight: Maybe not as lyrically complex as Fishscale, or as epic as Big Doe Rehab, but pretty damn enjoyable all the same.
On Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in the Emerald City, Ghostface always remains in complete control, ensuring that his voice, and not the R&B oriented production, remains at center stage. Just take the album’s lead single Baby, a piano driven cut featuring the always smooth Raheem DeVaughn on the hook. While Ghost’s street-bred core is always present, he even asks his lady to “pardon my gangster,” there’s a real tenderness to his lyrics on Baby, a sense that he truly appreciates his woman. With Baby Ghost has given even the hardest bangers a track to throw on with his lady. Fittingly, it’s a very similar story on the other Raheem Devaugh-assisted track Do Over, though the story behind the song is much less sweet: He needs a “do over” cause he got some other woman pregnant, not exactly a “do over” situation. Pregnancy is actually a common theme on the album, coming up again when he hits on a very pregnant Estelle on the slow jam Paragraphs of Love, an old school soul joint complete with a horn section. That doesn’t mean Ghostdini is a perfect album, far from it. Sadly a few tracks come dangerously close to fulfilling my fears, most notably the disappointingly formulaic I’ll Be That (Adrienne Bailon sounds like every other breathy pop/R&B singer on the chorus) and the painful She’s a Killah, a skip-worthy track featuring Ron Browz, who clearly jumped on the auto-tune bandwagon about a year too late. Thankfully, Ghostdini’s highlights are more than enough to make up for these stumbles.
Make no mistake, Ghost may have love on his mind but he’s still the same guy who devoted entire songs to running from the police. The most gripping track on the album is undoubtedly Guest House, a cinematic track chronicling Ghost catching his woman cheating (with Fabolous no less, who puts in a respectable cameo). Rather than complete sentences, Ghost’s rhymes are more often a collection of disjointed images that somehow make up a complete picture, as Guest House so aptly shows: “Things froze for a sec/so I dipped quick/lift the mattress/raised the biscuit at both of those bastards.” Just in case you still aren’t convinced Ghostdini gets as hard as any of his albums despite the “R&B’ moniker, allow me to present Stapleton Sex, quite possible the dirtiest song ever committed to wax. The production notes for Ghostdidni say Stapleton Sex is “not on the edited version” of the album, probably because it’d have to be one continuous bleep. Here’s the best I can do: “You can put my --- in your --- and play with my ---, but before I --- I’m gonna --- in your ---.” And that’s just the first two lines. Yeah, call Ghostdini a soft album now.
From one end of the spectrum (Baby) to the other (Stapleton Sex), Ghostdini’s diversity only further solidifies Ghostface Killah’s reputation as a man far too talented to be constrained by boundaries. With that said, if he announces tomorrow that he’ll be doing a country album, I’ll probably freak out again. I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 09/30/09
Soul Temple Records/RED Music
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"You Know I'm No Good ft. Amy Winehouse" (2006)
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