Artist: Ghostface Killah
Album: Bulletproof Wallets
Rating: 7 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Once again the “saviour” of the Wu-Tang Clan is back, and once again he follows in the footsteps of his own “Supreme Clientele” release, and Wu-Tang’s “The W”, by causing confusion worldwide over the tracklisting for this album. Going by the cover art, this is one that is gonna have to ship with stickers too, as the actual printed tracklisting doesn’t match the running list of the cd. This is the order of the tracks as the cd plays…
A typical Wu-Tang style intro. Rae and Ghost talk nonsense about all the haters and how they originated all the styles that others are now copying, over a 60’s soul style instrumental. Short and sweet.
Starsky and Hutch-styled instrumental – dark and ominous. Rae and Ghost in classic story telling mode here. Starting with a serious topic – a guy breaking into a Maxine’s apartment – the story quickly takes on insanely humourous proportions as he slips on a Biggie Smalls cd, and all the kids in the apartment beat him up and throw him through the window. Sounds a bit suspect? Check how they tell it – this is bangin’.
One of the more commercial tracks on the album, don’t be surprised if this is released as a single. The familiar, and yet still catchy, Bob James ‘Mardi Gras’ sample dominates, as Rae, Meth and Superb joint with Ghost to speak on the finer things in life. Method Man, in particular, succeeds in pulling off his regular guest-appearance-far-better-than-any-of-my-own-solo-joints act again.
4. Never Be The Same Again.
The first single, and another commercial track. One for the radio here, as Carl Thomas drops an R’n’B hook, and Ghost talks about his woman cheating on him. Starks pulls if off beautifully though, telling the story in his own unique style, and still shows maturity and advancement as a rhymer, by failing to drop to ‘Wildflower’ standards to get his point across.
5. Teddy Skit
One for the skip button. Superb and Ghost fool around on the mic for around a minute, singing an ode to weed and sex in 80’s r’n’b style.
An uptempo, oriental-tinged track. Ghost gets a mic helpout from Trife and Twiz. This cut features one of the catchiest choruses of the year. Its hard to help rewinding this.
7. Ghost Showers
Another commercial track – this one is almost identical in setup to ‘Cherchez La Ghost’, with the female vocals at the start and the uptempo drum kicks as Ghost lays down the lyrics. The whole thing is done in the rumba-style that featured on the Cherchez track. Commercial sounding – but still dope.
This is bangin’. A slow paced orchestral cut with a haunting female hook, the whole pace of this gives Ghost and Killa Sin ample chance to display their skills. Ghost is rapidly becoming one of the best emcees when it comes to storytelling rhymes – the way he makes you feel the emotions behind his words is just incredible. This is my favourite cut on the album.
9. Figure 8 Skit
God knows why this is here. This is straight up Disney. Skip it.
10. The Forest
Opens with Rae’s personal version of ‘Wonderful World.’ Someone should tell Rae he’s a dope rapper, but he needs to leave the singing to more capable heads. As for the actual track? Well its got a dope flute loop running through it, and once again Ghost kicks the illest style on the mic, sort of a ‘Labels’ featuring cartoon characters. On this cut in particular though, he displays his “cryptic” style of rhyming. WTF are they smoking? Seriously?
11. The Juks
I ain’t feeling this one. It features a pretty repetitive loop, and basically, nothing else. Trife and Superb both feature here, but this is one that maybe shoulda been left off.
12. Walking Through The Darkness
This cut has a very “live band” feel. Another uptempo cut, more cryptic rhymes, Tekitha wailing all over it. Overall a below average track. As for the Disco call and response chorus that ?Love apparently loved so much in his review? It ain’t nothing special.
A slow plodder of a track, featuring an ULTRA repetitive female vocal chanting the title over and over again. Ghost talks shit for just under a minute – thankfully its only a skit – but WHY is it on here? It doesn’t add anything.
14. The Hilton
Now this is more like it. Back into classic story mode, Rae and Ghost trade rhymes in vintage “Cuban Linx” style. Production on here is incredible – grimy in the extreme. I likes this…
Now we have a skit / interlude where I’d like to hear more! As it stands we get 55 measley seconds of production that sounds like a cousin of “Apollo Kids”. Why so short though? Why so short though?!
16. Love Session (featuring Ruff Endz)
This one is totally misplaced. Wack R’n’B – this shoulda been cut off. The track is just soft, and Ruff Endz poor K-Ci and JoJo impression is laughable. For real – this is wack, and should never have made it onto this album.
17. Street Chemistry
Little more than an outro cut , but a welcome relief from the previous track. This is actually quite catchy, and features an uncredited Cappadonna. A pretty nice closer.
Now that covers the actual retail album. But what about the tracks that should have made it on?
The infamous “did he / didn’t he” diss track, that samples Barry White’s ‘Gonna Love You Just A Little More’. Well, a little more than a sample actually, as Ghost pulls another ‘I Can’t Go To Sleep’, and drops lyrics over Barry’s beats AND vocals. As for the lyrics, its still a toss up as to whether he’s actually dissing Jigga and DMX, or saluting them. In any case, I think “Hold on let me park my shit / Let me find out this nigga barking and shit / I’m don of this shit.” kinda speaks for itself.
This is another one that reminds me of ‘Apollo Kids’. A real catchy choir chorus, and Ghost on top form mean this is one that should be tracked down.
This one had me licking my lips in anticipation when I saw it featured on a few tracklistings of promos, but it hasn’t actually appeared. The line up is Ghost, Rza, Rae, and Slick Rick, and promised much. However for all intensive purposes, its below average – a plodding beat, with Rick and Ghost talking absolute bollocks about how much they love the sun.
Conclusion – this album has a much more commercial feel than the last two Ghost joints. Whether its an intentional shift in direction on Ghost’s part, or outside pressure, its obvious that most of the commercial cuts, and the pointless skits detract from the quality of the album. Its a shame that ‘The Watch’ and ‘Good Times’ didn’t make it on here – I’m guessing for sample clearance reasons. As for ‘The Sun’? A letdown. For now though, in the opinions of this writer, Ghost’s crown has slipped a little.