Ghostface Killah

Bulletproof Wallets

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Sprucing up the scratchy soul samples of his sophomore Supreme Clientele into a relatively pristine mainstream gloss, Ghostface Killah also, unfortunately, removed much of the flair from the most distinctive sound in the Wu-Tang camp. And fans looking for the genuine pain and emotion of his standout, "Hollow Bones" (from Wu-Tang's The W), won't be rewarded, either. Bulletproof Wallets is basically a party album, at least compared to the usual Wu-Tang gloom and doom, featuring smooth, romantic R&B tracks like the single "Never Be the Same Again" (with Carl Thomas & Raekwon) and "Love Session." One of the few highlights is the opener, "Maxine," an inner-city nightmare given heavy menace by Ghostface's tight rapping and an excellent one-note-horns production. From there, Bulletproof Wallets heads south, with a few oddball interludes (usually nursery rhymes substituting weed references) and smooth or stale productions from Wu associates RZA (five songs total), Alchemist, Allah Mathematics, and Ghostface himself. (Listeners should also beware of the back-cover track listing, which is completely wrong.)

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