Before reading any further, notice that this album is by Ghostface, not Ghostface Killah. As if his career path wasn’t sufficient evidence that Ghostface has softened since he first entered the Wu-Tang, he had to go and remove “Killah.” Why? Let’s retrace. In 1993, on 36 Chambers, Ghostface jumped out of the speakers, yelled “When I struck, I had on Timbs and a black mask,” and annihilated everything and everyone that stood in his way. His supporting role on fellow-Wu Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx further enhanced his reputation. In 1996, backed by Clan leader RZA’s beats, Ghostface released Ironman, his first solo album, and kept charging forward. His critically acclaimed sophomore effort, Supreme Clientele, solidified Ghostface’s star status. But then came 2001’s Bulletproof Wallets, where Ghostface decided that he would rather try to make people dance than kill them. One song was even called “Love Session.” On The Pretty Toney Album, Ghostface attempts to figure out whether he wants to be a lover or a fighter.
The record’s early tracks are very strong. Ghostface is his trademark self, spitting out line after line of spastic banter and aiyo’s that make no sense but at the same time leave the listener in awe. Then comes the “Bathtub” skit — where Ghostface is bathed by some chick — followed by some lame songs about girls, including the lead single “Tush,” which features Missy Elliot, a beat that’s ripped off from “Get Fucked Up,” and an astoundingly moronic chorus. Ugh.
Along the way, Ghostface tries his own hand at production on “Save Me Dear” and “Holla.” The results are pretty humorous. Instead of cutting up songs for his samples, Ghostface raps directly over them in their entirety. This is terribly distracting, especially on “Holla,” which borrows from the Delfonics’ “La La (Means I Love You).”
Thankfully, RZA swoops in and saves the day on the next to last track, “Run.” Maybe his style has been endlessly rehashed over the years, but when held up next to tracks like “Holla,” RZA’s work is instantly remembered and appreciated. “Run” is RZA’s take on the Bomb Squad’s signature sound, and the production seems to bring the best out of Ghostface as well, as he frenetically describes himself being chased by the police, sirens blaring in the background all the while.
Before we can all breathe our collective sigh of relief, however, comes the closer, “Love.” Truth be told, it’s not unbearable, as it avoids degenerating into a string of clich