Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killahs

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Ghostface Killahs is the Wu-Tang rapper's first true solo album in almost five years, following releases co-billed with the likes of Czarface and Big Ghost Ltd. Having left Def Jam in 2010, he's far removed from his major-label days, but even for an independent release, the album gives off the appearance of a low-profile mixtape rather than a studio album. The artwork looks like outtakes from an amateur straight-to-streaming crime movie, with Ghost surrounded by a crew donning cheap presidential masks and bearing weapons. The album itself is brisk, barely lasting half an hour, but it's packed with focused, riveting tracks. Ghost sounds as driven and inspired as ever, and the production, primarily handled by newcomer Danny Caiazzo, has a vintage Wu-Tang sound, filled with booming beats and lush, cinematic backdrops. "Burner to Burner" is laced with fuzzy, rough-edged guitars and eerie reversed vocals, while "Flex" revolves around a deep, aching soul sample. The lyrics typically consist of detailed heist scenes and sexual conquests, with the action-packed cop show caper "The Chase" being a definite high point, but there's a handful of more reflective moments. "New World" has a more laid-back groove and Curtis Mayfield-like chorus vocals by Eamon, with lyrics lamenting the state of the world and calling for resistance and revolution. The album ends with "Soursop," a Jamaican diversion with a sunny, reggae-inspired beat and uplifting vocals. The album seems somewhat patched-together compared to other Ghostface albums, but it still boasts some excellent tracks. The main problem is the blatantly homophobic and misogynistic lyrics which crop up throughout. Not that this is anything new, or unexpected, but it still mars an otherwise strong album.

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