It’s Fishscale Friday here at Cigarbox. Green Hornet and me are legitimate fan boys, and I am immensely jealous that he met him last night. But anyways, I’m going to go through some of the highlight albums of Ghost’s career. I will include most of his solo albums and some other great ones here. I’m holding myself to posting just one song from each album. Here we go:
Album: Liquid Swords (GZA album)
Favorite Song (with Ghost): 4th Chamber
“4th Chamber” is one of the RZA’s best beats. The beat is like a black hole, it’s so dense. It sucks you in, instantly forces you to listen. The first guy out of the gate on this track is our subject, Ghostface. His verse here is ferocious, yet understated. His voice perfectly fits the mood of the album, and it mirrors the GZA’s. Him, along with the other guest stars on this album know who is the star of this album, and they let him have his stage. He lets you wait until the 4th verse (after a very decent Killah Priest verse, and a great verse from the RZA before he got older and started sounding like a retarded robot) for the GZA to tear shit up. But Ghost sets the stage. He makes the song what it is, and does exactly what a guest rapper is supposed to do: set up the main guy. He would have his time.
Album: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (Raekwon album)
Favorite Song (with Ghost): Criminology
On an album that could be the score to a mob movie, this is one of the most cinematic songs. The album is just as much Ghost’s as it is Raekwon’s. Unlike on Enter the 36 Chambers where Ghostface functioned almost like a hypeman (albeit a fantastic hypeman), here Ghost is every bit as important as Raekwon in forwarding the intricate story of the album. On the song “Criminology”, Ghostface shows he has a distinct voice in rap.
Favorite Song: (tie) Wildflower, All That I Got Is You
Underrated in the overall annals of Wu solo albums, the only thing Ironman lacks is a bad song. With a little more cohesion to the overall album aesthetic, this could have been a classic up there with Cuban Linx. Picking a favorite song was such a difficult process because of the amount of great songs. I chose “Wildflower” first for it’s relation to a recent Ghostface hit song “Back Like That”. Wildflower has Ghostface throwing harsh words towards a woman who did him wrong while he was on tour. While on “Back Like That” where he at least acknowledges that he was partially to blame, here it is all blame towards the girl.
“Remember when I long-dicked you and broke your ovary?
You crab bitch, chickenhead hoe, eatin' heros”
“All That I Got Is You” is truly a hip hop to tug at your heartstrings. Mary J. Blige gives us a soul wrenching chorus while Ghost gives us a depressingly realistic look at his childhood and his love for his mother. Mike Skinner’s sappier songs might have been born right here.
Album: Supreme Clientele
Favorite Song: Apollo Kids
On this album, Ghost is still rapping about selling drugs, but now he rapping about a lot of other things too. These songs are abstract often, as Ghost seems to care more on this album about how his words sound than about how the words are. But on this song “Apollo Kids” him and Raekwon are rapping about dealing, but the narrative is fractured, as it is on most of the album.The words come out in a stream-of-consciousness blur. It’s like James Joyce with a beat.
At this point, Ghost has truly come into his own. He grew up for this album. Gone is the raw, Wu hypeman of albums past. Here is the veteran of rap, and the first of the Wu solos to be able to remain artistically viable without the RZA (although he did produce 3 of the songs on this album).
Album: Pretty Toney
Favorite Song: Be This Way
This album is just as much a soul album as a hip hop album. Ghostface doesn’t just have choruses with soul samples, he has truly incorporated the genre into every facet of most of these songs. What could have become an indulgent genre exercise turns out to be a fantastic album with enough bangers to be played at any party. The song “Be This Way” is a good example of the vibe of this album and is the best example of how the soul and hip hop were mixed to well on this album.
Favorite Song: (tie) R.A.G.U., Underwater
So we are finally here to this day at Cigarbox’s namesake. To me, it’s just as good, if not better than all the rest of the albums named here. Some of the best producers (Just Blaze, MF Doom, J Dilla, and Pete Rock to name a few) , some of Ghost’s best verses, and some great guest spots make this album fantastic start to finish. Here Ghost’s topic is, what else: drug dealing. But after making albums that were a little left of center as far as mainstream rap is concerned, here Ghost shows that he can keep his roots of abstract artistic rap, and still make songs that would be great on the radio.
As different as his past albums were, here you can see Ghost jumping from style to style, as if he has perfected what he did in the past and here is the showcase. R.A.G.U. would easily go onto Cuban Linx as its beat sounds like that album, and it features Raekwon in top form. Underwater is a surrealist approach to hip hop. In the song Ghost describes a trip underwater led by mermaids. The song is so vivid as to make you think he actually lived it.