(Review by brokencool.com writer Maxine Ross)
Ghostface Killah is putting out an R&B album on September 29th. I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it too. The first single featuring Raheem DeVaughn ‘Baby’ is a mixture of auto-tuned love crooning and Ghost’s signature loud rhythmic flow. Not particularly exciting, it doesn’t give the true thematic scheme of the album. It would be natural to expect a so called R&B album by a non R&B singer to be conceptually confusing. With "Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City" though, the Staten Island native has managed to maintain and even elevate his storytelling ability and abstract grit so loved on previous projects.
Singing as the root of R&B is not lost but respected and cultivated throughout the effort. Each song is essentially a duet between Ghost and artists like Lloyd, John Legend, Estelle and others. Topics range from love, sex, passion, and breaking up to make up. On ‘Guest House’ Pretty Toney gives an unrivaled performance as storyteller through the mind of a perceived jilted lover blinded by passionate rage. Poetry, right?
The Wizard of Poetry is a collection of hood sonnets woven with the thread of words and lyrics told from the point of view of one with an intimate relationship to his experience. While at times downright crude, on ‘Stapleton Sex’ Ghost raps: “My face is wet, I got hair on my tongue,” there is no other appropriate reaction to the fusion other than applause. Metaphorically driven, for those less than three minutes, all within earshot are transported to Stapleton Housing Projects in Staten Island. Perhaps the fifth floor where pulling hair and a whole lotta spit are the only necessary ingredients. Yes, it’s like that.
Speeding through his lane, Ghostface Killah brings a simple sexy, white linen suit style appeal to the John Legend assisted ‘Let’s Stop Playin.’ This song brings out the reality in the MC’s world. Telling the story of helping a shorty in with her groceries because the elevator is broken is a very real thing in the hood. It’s an almost Shakespearean approach to the epic crush and a profession of love while on the come up. Production wise, this is the most polished track.
On ‘She’s a Killa’ I wasn’t expecting the potential for club heat. The beat knocks and knocks and kicks in a way that makes the MC’s quiet flow acceptable in the climate of such busy production. For half a second I thought Ghostface was about to start whispering. No matter the overall album content, there is always the song declaring criteria for the baddest bitch on the block and this would be that track.
The album is dope. Make no mistakes about that. For the traditional Ghostface Killah fan, it might take some getting used to. I can imagine this is what LL’s music would sound like if he kept making records like ‘I Need Love.’ All the elements are there, flow, grit, execution, the famous voice and incredible stories. There are some moments of confusion amongst the piano segments and utopic strings but in the end "Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City" is, well, gold.