Sunday, November 30, 2008

Selected Retrospective: Ghostface Killah | Supreme Clientele

Four years after Ironman and a stint at Riker's Island, Ghostface Killah proclaims on Supreme Clientele that he doesn't mean to harm anybody, but that it happens when he encounters wack MCs. At first glance, this seems like another prideful boast in the hip-hop "I'm-the-best-and-you're-wack" continuum. Yet after digging the whole record, it becomes apparent that far from boasting, Ghostface was stating his mission.

The first five songs are about as unsurpassable as Ghostface gets, culminating with the unforgiving horns n' strings of "Apollo Kids." It's hard to understand how this was only his second record. True, he collaborated with some of his Wu brethren before, but that can't account for Ghostface going form solid to outstanding, can it? On "Nutmeg," Ghostface raps,
Scientific, my hand kissed it
robotic, let's think optimistic
you probably missed it
watch my dolly dick it
scotty watty cop it to me
big microphone hippie
hit Poughkeepsie crispy chicken verbs
throw up a stone richie.
Abstract, to say the least, but hard-hitting and unrelenting in its rhythmic pulse. In "One," the rhyme scheme for more than half of his second verse is based on the sound "ash" and its variations. He moves the accents of the rhyming words from the end to the beginning of lines, and sometimes the rhymes are only internal. Add his bewildering, spontaneous reversal of "supercalifragalisticexpialidocious" in "Buck 50," and it's all too clear that nobody else raps like this or would know how to. Wack MCs beware.

NOTE: The Bootsies for
Supreme Clientele also apply to Ironman.

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