November 20, 2016

Ghostface Killah "Bulletproof Wallets" (Vibe, 12/01)

"Listening to Ghostface is like watching theater, each rhyme acted out onstage. Over a cadre of chamber instruments orchestrated by the Alchemist, "The Forest" begins with Ghost crooning Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" (off-key, of course) before bursting into a gangsta fairy tale... Ghost goes into character for each line, manipulating the parts like a master puppeteer... Restraint is a foreign concept for Ghost. It's as if every verse were his last. Words spill out with the desperation of a man fighting his way through quicksand. And it's that urgency that makes him so compelling... Compared to the steely reserve of his peers, Ghost's flow is molten, a liquid of vowels and consonants, not just words. Frame Ghostface in any musical context, and he exhibits the same flair... Producers like RZA, the Alchemist, and Digga conjure up the ideal backdrops for supporting the immediacy of Ghost's stories: robust, flush, and often, loud. On "Maxine," Ghost and Raekwon play two female leads in a deadly crack game, and the best possible context for such a story is the booming blaxploitation band RZA brings into the studio. Ghostface can plumb his own feelings, too... Few rappers surrender to vulnerability as Ghostface does, and that's what makes him endearing... In the wake of all this, you re-evaluate the verbal skills other rappers offer. Jay-Z perspicuous anthems are glorious but still hint of restraint, while DMX is more field hollers and mottoes than actual verses and rhymes. Most rappers are like Missy Elliott, all sound effects and cooing, the perfect percussive foils for studio producers looking to pop your collar. But Ghostface? He's an MC superhero. Rappers, grab your shoes and run. Wallabees. Blue and cream." - Vibe, 12/01