|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2003-05-30
Lounging on a leather recliner in Miami's Audio Visions Studio, Ghostface Killah takes a rare moment to focus on something besides music. He's thinking about rims. Ghost sifts through photos as his manager advises him to "pick the one you like the best - or, three, or five. They'll make it your signature line."
Ghostface, perhaps the most consistent MC to emerge from the Wu-Tang camp, is recording his fourth solo LP, The Pretty Tony Album. It's also his first Def Jam release, and, to true to form, he's "striving for perfection." Much like his lyrics, his recording philosophy is somewhat unorthodox. "I'm so selective with my music," he says. "I know what beats are going to fit me. Instead of just doing a bunch of tracks and narrowing it down. if I feel that beat, most likely that track will end up on the album." The beats on Tony are provided by RZA, Nottz, Helium and True Master.
The radio-friendly first single, "Tush," is a guaranteed club banger, a disco-influenced track over which Ghost and Missy Elliott spar with not-so-subtle sexual innuendo. On "Holla" he spits over the original track to the Delfonics classic "La La Means I Love You," a feat that few rappers besides Starky Love can pull off. Some call it genius, others may call it lazy, but either way the result is a refreshing blend of classic soul and raw hip-hop.
"Every album I do, that's my baby. I gave birth to that. That came from my mind, that's my seeds right there," Ghost continues. "I don't really like to talk about the album; I like people to decide for themselves."
Studio Survival Pack:
3. Now & Laters (assorted flavors)
4. White almond candles
5. Staten Island gurdas
Inspectah Deck and Kay Slay talk about the gool ol' days:
Kay Slay: Where have you been these last few years?
Inspectah Deck: Suffering in silence. Nah, I've been all right. I had to take a break, focus on myself and leave music alone. I went through a lot of hell where I didn't have the same hunger. If I had a chance I'd do it all over again.
KS: You have to pick up the ball and start dribbling again, you can't lie down and die. It's about taking that bigger step and opening doors so your kids and the people around you can eat. That was the whole reason for me trying to do an industry move. You got to feed the wolves.
ID: Nowadays, with millions of dollars being thrown around, I don't trust anybody. I especially watch the niggas close to me. We got kids and family to take care of; I can't take care of grown men. I don't have a mansion in the hills. I'll do a show, get paid 20 grand, and come back to the projects.
KS: That's real talk. When everything is bubbling, it's love, but once things get rough, your homies start scheming and hating. The game is crazy. It's just the street game all over again. The same players are just tossing a different kind of pill. I came into the game dolo. That's why I think I'm more respected than these other wankstas. Everybody needed someone to cosign them. I cosigned myself.
ID: I had to fight with niggas, take microphones from muthafuckas in the middle of their show just go get on. Nobody was going to fuck with nine grimy-looking niggas. We had plans but couldn't go to a label. They thought we were a bunch of thugs who wanted to steal shit out of their office. But sure enough, the streets showed us love. We came with a different science and tried to teach niggas.
KS: Niggas were ahead of their time. Of course, when you get a new sound everybody is going to jock it, but if niggas ain't understanding, they will stray back to something they understand.
ID: I called my album The Movement because I'm fed up with that shit. Let me put out an album where I'm on the front lines taking shots. I'll take the heat for trying to be underground again - nobody else is. And I know there are some people fed up with that shit than supporting it. All it takes is for those cats to be woekn up, just like Iraq. They had no presence until the U.S. got there; now they're defending thier shit.
KS: Now cats doing that happy rap have to run for cover until Puff breaks out his shiny suit. You got to love the Wu because they never changed for anybody.
ID: A lot of MCs are here because of Wu. They rolled the hardcore wave then converted. You see dudes now with furs and minks on, but check their first muthafuckin' video.
Summer Music Preview:
Program: Tical 0: The Prequel
Lyrical fighting style: Panty-raiding shadowboxin'
Oracle says: Venturing away from RZA's grimier soundscapes, Meth still manages to score big. Expect the P. Diddy-produced, Missy-assisted "Mini Van" and Jellyroll's electrofunked "Fire" to have dancefloors on smash. Ghostface nicely chips in on teh string-laden "The Afterparty" and Ludacris manages to coax Tical away from his usual cadence for a double-time Dirty South flow on "Rodeo."
Mainframe of Mind: "All the shit muthafuckas have been listening to is just bits and pieces of me," exclaims a valiant Meth. "I'm back!"
Program: The Lex Diamonds Story
Lyrical fighting style: Shaolin iron fist meets Godfather gunplay
Oracle says: Having secured his deal with Universal and groomed his new clique called Ice Water, The Wu's Cuban Linx kingping continues to paint vivid portraits of street life using his own brand of slang. Joints like the epic story "Pablo Escablow,", the flash, EZ Elpee-produced "Big Spender" and the bouncy, piano-laced "Who Don't Know" exude the quality of classic Raekwon material.
Mainframe of Mind: "Beats is more stronger. Lyrics is more iller," Rae says of his new LP. "The vibe is more together. Right now I would consider the stage that I'm at is I'm a prison-thinkin' nigga inside the law library, but I still be in the yard with the guerillas. At the same time, I'm goin' up in the law library to get this case together for y'all. This is a case, baby! This just ain't a project, this is a case. And I'm gonna get acquitted."
Also, here's a review from The Source for Inspectah Deck's upcoming album The Movement... due out June 10th.
Score: 3 Mics
Review: Inspectah Deck needs a compass. Though his follow-up to 1999's Uncontrolled Substance is clearly rooted in the Wu-Tang ethic, it is unclear at times where exactly The Movement is going. From the outset, the cinematic pimp-strut of "City High" contrasts the anxious, aggressive feel of "Get Right." While the burly "He's a Rebel" and "Vendetta" bring the Timberland-and-hoody vibe that anchored many of Deck's standout efforts, experiments like "It's Like That" are suspect. Here, baffling lyrics like "Ya'll ride dicks like a taxi" scuttle Deck's untested staccato rhyming flow. And the girl-watching "Shorty Right There" is a surprisingly amateur ditty that probably should've been a skit. Thankfully Deck recovers on the soul-powered "Stereotype," on which he emerges from his indentity crisis as a "Black action figure that's strapped with the spitter." When he's sure of his target, this G.I. bro still bombs atomically.