Ghostface Killah - The Big Doe Rehab
Mon 31st Mar, 2008 Music Reviewsin
Ghostface Killah just keeps coming back with more. After the release of celebrated 2006 records Fishscale and More Fish, Ghostface is now sending himself to The Big Doe Rehab. An original member of seminal nineties hip hop super group the Wu-Tang Clan, he has been doing his thing since 1993 when Enter the Wu Tang: 36 Chambers marked the beginning of what is commonly known as the ‘East Coast Renaissance’. With his debut LP Ironman clocking platinum sales, follow up Supreme Clientele going gold and the much more recent Fishcale receiving universal critical acclaim, Ghost’s seventh solo album has a lot to live up to.
Die hard fans can breathe a sigh of relief as Ghost is still razor-sharp. He is one of very few in the hip hop marketplace who is able to bridge the gap between underground ethics and commercial success. Ghost’s hard hitting and abrasive sound manages to strike a chord across the board, and his mainstream refinement certainly does not come at the price of compromising artistic integrity. Indeed, The Big Doe Rehab is as raw as they come. Weaving a rich tapestry from tales of drugs, violence and paranoia to love, lust, hate and humour over beats equally as soulful as they are gritty, Ghost delivers on all accounts. LV and Sean C of Diddy’s production team The Hitmen help lay the musical foundation as well as Scram Jones, Anthony Acid and Ghost himself among others. A deluge of guest emcees come to the party including most of Ghost’s Wu brothers in rhyme and members of protégé clique Theodore Unit.
Ghost truly shines on introspective solo joints: Walk Around, a grisly tale of remorse accentuated by a solemn Little Milton sample, and I’ll Die For You, an ode devoted to loyalty. Further standouts, Supa GFK borrows from Superman Lover as Johnny Guitar Watson croons in the background and Paisley Darts boats a soulful bass line courtesy of The Originals with Raekwon, Sun God, Method Man, Trife Da God and Cappadonna each adding solid verses. Faze-O’s Riding High, the oft-sampled 1977 hit underscores Killa Lipstick with Meth and Masta Killa in toe.
Amongst the plenitude of soul samples, the sonic canvas is also heightened by live instrumentation. Rae and U-God collaboration Rec-Room Therapy is bolstered by an orchestration of live instruments while highlight I’ll Die For You is also backed by a live ensemble.
Narrative dialogue has always been Ghost’s forte. He brings this expertise to the fore and it defines some the album’s strongest moments. The sombre, brassy Shakey Dog Starring Lolita, an epilogue to the Shakey Dog story on Fishscale sees Ghost and Rae tell a tale of gangster life. Ghost plots vivid storylines in both Yolanda’s House and Yapp City with Rae and Meth, and Trife Da God and Sun God respectively while Beanie Sigel lays down his hustler steez on the grungy Toney Sigel aka The Barrel Brothers.
Centred on a Rare Earth sample, We Celebrate is an animated affair brought home by Kid Capri. On a similarly upbeat note, White Linen Affair (Toney Awards), hosted by Ghost and Theodore associate Shawn Wiggs, is a star-studded skit-come-song taking the form of a radio drama. Countertenor Ox delivers a powerful accapella, The Prayer while mezzo-soprano Chrisette Michele winds the album up nicely with her expansive vocalizations on Slow Down.
Ghost is still in fine form. From his cinematic word play to his signature soul-based production, The Big Doe Rehab has all the makings of another hit Ghostface record. And with the recent release of The Wallabee Champ, a collection of rarities and non-album cuts that span Ghost’s entire career, he has got a few more rounds in him yet.