Ghostface Killah

The Big Doe Rehab

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In 2006, Ghostface Killah released Fishscale, an intricate, exciting album that was voted -- and rightfully so -- as one of the best records of the year. It was the kind of thing that showed why Ghost is so beloved by critics and fans: his rhymes were wildly detailed and inventive, his stories were vivid, and his beats (most courtesy of MF Doom, but also with contributions from Pete Rock and Dilla, among others) were fresh-sounding and interesting, only working to improve the MC's verses by way of their own strength. And while these attributes occasionally surface on The Big Doe Rehab, overall the record lacks the excitement, the originality, and the passion that can and has made Ghostface so compelling. A lot of this, for better or for worse, can be blamed on the production. The Diddy-associated Hitmen (here Sean C. and LV), who also worked on Jay-Z's latest effort and are the composers of five of the tracks on Big Doe, make passable but not extraordinary beats, with short, overly simple samples that do nothing to bring attention to Ghost's rhymes, going even so far to turn what could be pretty decent ("Paisley Darts," for example, which also features good verses from Cappadonna and Trife da God) into something just plain mediocre, the antithesis of what a beat should do. Of course, when Mr. Coles is excellent, like he is on "Shakey Dog Starring Lolita," with Raekwon, or "Walk Around," he's excellent -- and both of these songs serve as reminders of his talent and perhaps intentionally also have the album's best production -- but unfortunately, there are too few moments of lyrical acumen interspersed among the less remarkable lines (like in the trite and tired "We Celebrate" or "Killa Lipstick," both of which sound like they're coming from an MC whose stories have all been told). Perhaps this disappointment stems from the inevitable comparison with Fishscale, an album which, even if you weren't a fan of Doom, didn't have a weak track, but Ghost has always had a problem with consistency, anyway -- think Supreme Clientele followed by Bulletproof Wallets or The Pretty Toney Album. So the question looms: is this just a misstep before another masterpiece -- and "misstep" is certainly a word too harsh for The Big Doe Rehab, which is more "uneventful" than "wrong" -- or is it a sign that the end is nigh?

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