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
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

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

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,
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
(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.