Ghostface Killah

The Big Doe Rehab

posted December 02, 2007 04:59:17 PM CST | 104 comments

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If you told a hip hop head in '95 that in twelve years Ghostface Killah would be carrying Wu-Tang on his back, they'd probably try to smack some sense into you. After all, Method Man was the star from the get go (as J-23 once said, there was a reason he got the only solo cut on Enter the 36 Chambers). In the same token, there was a reason Ghost was the fifth to drop his solo album. Even after his '96 debut Ironman, no one could've guessed Ghost would be the most visible out of the Wu, as GZA's Liquid Swords and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx were clearly superior. Yet, in 2006, it was Method Man begging for a video from Def Jam, while Ghost held it down with not one but two albums in '06 - one of which went gold.

It's not very difficult to track the path of Ghost's success - it all comes down to consistency. Whereas his Wu brethren's albums saw a great drop in quality after their debuts, nearly every one of Ghost's albums has lived up to his potential. With his raw lyricism, storytelling ability and charisma, it is ultimately his tremendous ear for beats that has carried him. With the possible exception of Bulletproof Wallets which was hampered sample clearance issues, not a single one of his albums has been a disappointment (how many emcees can honestly make that claim)? Ghostface continues this tradition with Big Doe Rehab, and the results are astounding.

Things start off extra gully with Toney Sigel a.k.a. The Barrel Brothers, featuring Beanie Sigel, Styles P and Solomon Childs. Its good old-fashioned coke rap mixed with knowledge-dropping as Beans, P and Ghost rip the beat apart with furious flows. Next up is an instant classic, and the best track on the album - Yolanda's House. With impeccable storytelling and chemistry between Ghost, Rae and Meth you'd think it was '93 all over again. The song plays out as a singular story from their perspectives, and as their verses end, each emcee passes the lyrical baton to the next. We Celebrate could easily be a great single if DJs all across the world could stop playing that fucking Soulja Boy trash for more than a second, and the same could be said for the smooth-as-ice Killa Lipstick. The self explanatory I'll Die For You is another standout, with Ghost going from the heart as he does so well.

The Big Doe Rehab is easily one of the best-produced albums of the year. The album continues Ghostface's penchant for taking soulful and jazzy instrumentals and samples and lacing them with the grittiest lyrics possible. The Rhythm Roots Allstars add some Samba flavor to the album (to play into the Scarface persona, no doubt), and Shakey Dog Starring Lolita is one of numerous examples old-fashioned funk scattered through the album. With such a rich sound all throughout, there are two glaring missteps. Yapp City's repetitive beat is without a doubt a step below anything else on the album, though Ghost, Trife Da God and Sun God (Ghost's son) deliver good verses. The other blunder is The Prayer (performed by Ox), an a cappella track which, although pretty damn good, is completely out of place right in the middle of the album. It ends up interrupting the The Big Doe Rehab's flow, and would've been better off as an intro or an outro. Speaking of outro's, the LP's closer Slow Down featuring Chrisette Michele is as good as it gets.

Some people will hail The Big Doe Rehab as Ghost's best album since Supreme Clientele, and I'm not sure I'd argue. It may even be on par with it, which says a lot. Ghostface hasn't faltered at all in his ability to rhyme, tell stories, or choose banging production. Aside from the very few missteps previously mentioned, the only thing you can really complain about with this album is its large guest list. I suppose I'm nitpicking here, but when you're this close to perfection, nitpicking is all that's left to do. Bottom line, Ghost delivers in such a way that reminds us not only why he's in the forefront of the Wu, but in hip hop - period.

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