There comes a time in every veteran emcee’s career where an epiphany occurs and their music begins to reflect ambitious thoughts they have kept within the depths of their mind and never acted upon. While appearing on various R&B records throughout his career as well as touching on the subject on his own records in one way, shape or form, Ghostface Killah has never allowed a subject such as love to dictate the entire direction of a project. His most ambitious project to date, Ghostdini, The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City is backed by a different Tony Starks, one who sees fit to elaborate on the various and different curve balls that love can throw one.
The Wizard commences his latest project with the uptempo number, “Not Your Average Girl”, and while Shareefa does the cut justice as Ghost’s “down ass chick”, it begs to wonder whether or not this track was crafted with either Keyshia Cole or Mary J. Blige in mind. The self-proclaimed “R&B Neo-Soul Hippie Rockstar” Raheem DeVaughn joins Ghostface for two cuts including the reflective 1st single “Baby”, in which he belts out an autotune-riddled chorus as Ghostface rhymes about the beauty and rigors (hunger cravings, yikes!) of pregnancy. The remorse depicted in DeVaughn’s hook duties on the soulful “Do Over” allow the Shaolin soldier an effective foundation as he laments over past indiscretions after his infidelity leads to the loss of his good girl, his “crown jewel”.
The somber soundscape of “Lonely” echo a different aspect of Ghostface’s, down on his luck and making himself heartsick at the thought of another man curled up at night with his girl with even his son unknowingly feeding into his detached state of mind: “Most of the time we watch flicks, on your Surround Sound, he watch boxing/ You better go beg or something, before she go love him/ He’s taking your spot cause you was dissin Mommy, you buggin/ They don’t argue, he send her flowers for no reason/ She’s cheesing… I’m wishing you could come back and see this”. It is also on the nostalgia-inducing cuts “Stay” and “Forever” where the wizard is his most sincere especially on the latter in which he promises forever to his one and only, backed by a mesmerizing instrumental.
While this “R&B” album virtually stands as uncharted territory for the Wu-Gambino, it is his detailed storytelling that continues to shine brightest through his expansive catalogue. The raw and uncut “Stapleton Sex” features Ghost at his best, presenting as vivid a sexcapade on wax as possible between he and wifey (assisted by the lovely Milani Rose) that would make even the late great Pimp C shudder. The piano key-driven Paragraphs Of Love is a theatrical masterpiece as Ghostface enlists singer Vaughn Anthony and UK superstar Estelle to articulate on the age old tale of “love at first sight” as Starks encounters another man’s pregnant fiancee, “the most beautifulest queen I’ve ever seen” who brings forth the inner gentleman in him as he questions whether she is in need of help and offers her sustenance. While many will recognize the backdrop as Rick Ross’ “Yacht Music”, Ghostface flips the Justice League’s triumphant horn-driven composition into “Guest House”, a concise, paranoia-infused epic that features the masterful storyteller on a crusade in search of his significant other, who he subsequently finds cheating on him with cameo king Fabolous.
With Wizard of Poetry…, Ghostface further solidifies his stature among the greatest emcees to ever grace the microphone while also showing his willingness grow as an artist. Backed by incredible production throughout, Ghostface utilizes his stellar pen game and continues to paint as vivid a picture as they come, though instead of his vintage cocaine tales, he focuses on the various twists and turn that can occur in the art of love. The album tapers off near the end especially on the bland, Lloyd-assisted “Goner” and the questionable inclusion of the remix to 2006’s “Back Like That”, a record that appeared on More Fish, but the initial ten to eleven tracks are substantially worthwhile and more than make up for a small addition of filler. Sticking out like a sore thumb amongst other records in his extensive catalogue, Ghostdini, The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City further validates Ghostface’s extensive range as an artist as well as his confidence to step outside of his lane, a feat that continues to shape among veteran emcees in the latter years of their established careers.
4 spins (out of 5)