Ghostface, Method Man, Masta Killa

Record review

Phases & Stages

Ghostface

The Pretty Toney Album (Def Jam)

Method Man

Tical 0: The Prequel (Def Jam)

Masta Killa

No Said Date (Nature Sounds)

As the Wu-Tang dynasty strives to retain its relevance in a hip-hop world gone digitally bonkers, Ghostface Killah leads the charge with an album full of voluptuous soul samples fused with brusque perspectives on love, life, and common thuggery. Forgoing his usual weeping flow, on The Pretty Toney Album Ghostface locks down the sordid affairs of "Biscuits," "Metal Lungies," and "Run" with the intensity of a man on a life-or-death mission. While "Beat the Clock" swiftly navigates the hurdles of blaxploitative peril, Toney abruptly downshifts to hot-tub mode with a series of contemplative tracks, including "It's Over" and "Be This Way." Probably the only MC anywhere who could get away with rhyming over a classic such as the Delfonics' "La-La (Means I Love You)," Wu-Tang's Ghostface is living proof that where there's a will, there's a way. Unfortunately it seems his Clanmate Method Man has lost his own creative mastery. Bogged down by Meth's lackadaisical approach and reliance on guest appearances, Tical 0: The Prequel falls flat on its befuddled front. In contrast, Masta Killa's No Said Date is resolutely focused upon the task of resurrecting Wu Tang's no-holds-barred martial-arts hip-hop. With RZA revealing both ends of his production spectrum by way of the majestic title track and the bare-bones orientation of "School," his savvy protégés, True Master and Mathematics, follow suit with beats of equally epic proportions. Meanwhile, Masta Killa emerges from the shadows as a diamond MC in the rough. Joined on the mic at one point or another by the entire Wu-Tang Clan, the ninth member of the dojo rips through tracks like "Secret Rivals" and "Digi Warfare" with the proficiency of a samurai.

(Ghostface; Masta Killa) ***.5

(Method Man) *

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