Music Reviews
GhostDeini the Great / Fish n Chips

Ghostface Killah GhostDeini the Great / Fish n Chips

(Def Jam / The League) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Ghostface Killah aka Ghostface aka Tony Starks will go down as one of the most enigmatic emcees of all-time, percolating with charisma, personality and an otherworldly lexicon that's equal parts ridiculous and timeless (e.g. dust off 1998's Supreme Clientele).

Having already released a thorough and critically acclaimed catalog of albums spanning two major record labels (Epic and Def Jam), along with a steady slew of mixtapes and of course Wu-affiliated releases, one can get spoiled when groaning about the lack of this-or-that on yet another official Ghostface “best of” release like GhostDeini the Great, a decent stocking stuffer released back in mid-December '08. Some of us are still pissing and moaning about the 2+year anticipated release with MF DOOM (tentatively entitled Swift & Changeable with no release date in sight) or the Rae and Ghost United (RAGU) thing or Cuban Linx II or whatever it's called, and it's fair to assume that Ghost is just trying to crank out material in order to expedite his fulfillment to Def Jam (GhostDeini is his fourth release in three years and then bail), a label that hasn't exactly made a valiant effort to get Ghost the superstar props he anticipated, ultimately making him even more endearing to his loyal legion of fans. Only a dude like Ghostface could sign his name to a $500 action figure (I shit you not- check out www.theghostfacedoll.com), release a hilarious “self-help” book (accompanied with an even more outrageous CD narrative) and simultaneously keep the streets and clubs in check year after year.

GhostDeini falls somewhere between a decent introduction (you'd do much better with 2003's Shaolin's Finest) and ho-hum collection of alternate verses and remixes that only occasionally add any depth to the originals. Luckily the beats remain unscathed when alternate, guest-star verses pop up on classic gems like Back Like That (with some help from Kanye phoning in), the opening track Kilo (with Malice of the Clipse settling in nicely on the track) and an A-list remix of Run with Raekwon, Freeway and Lil Wayne serving up verses against that vicious beat. Supreme Clientele-era gems such as Mighty Healthy and Apollo Kids are true to form, as is the one who introduced Ghost to the dancefloor and initial commercial success, the quintessential club-banger Cherchez LaGhost. And one can appreciate his vivid storytelling and engaging wordplay on the ghetto-fabulous tear-jerker All That I Got is You off his 1996 debut Ironman, well-complemented when followed by Back Like That from the 2006 release Fishscale. But, ultimately, GhostDeini doesn't do much to add to the talented Staten Island wordsmith and offers just a few reminders why Ghostface is such a versatile balancing act in the world of hip-hop. (7)

That said, a mixtape like Fish n Chips (hosted by Mick Boogie) displays Tony Starks in fine form, firing off bars at imposters and street-corner solicitors while delivering a steady dose of braggadocio throughout. Fish n Chips comes out firing with streetwise openers Staten Island Murder Goons and Return of the Ironman, and Raekwon shouts out “cereal bowls of heron” on Coke & Bitches. The aforementioned Kanye-infused remix of Back Like That pops up here, along with You Know I'm No Good with Amy Winehouse, but Fish n Chips is tailor-made for diehards looking for some solid, non-album vault cuts, particularly The Dodgers with fellow underground legend Styles P, using the ol-skool jam Crooklyn Dodgers as a backdrop. At this point in his career (and fast approaching 40), Ghost may be better off doing the rhymes-for-hire on independent outlets similar to cohort and kindred space-age lyricist DOOM, like a veteran free-agent pickup that can instantly bolster your roster. Sure, Method Man is the consummate, multi-media entertainer and RZA remains the Wu Renaissance Man, but Tony Starks (and the Ghostface glossary) his will go down as the Wu Tang Clan's resident rhyme harbinger. (8)