Ghostface Killah – Fishscale review
“Fishscale,” slang for uncut cocaine, is just as fitting a description for Ghostface’s euphoria-inducing, addictive delivery as it is for the narcotics theme that is scattered throughout his 5th album. As a hip-hop veteran, he shows no signs of slowing down and still has one of the most versatile, creative flows in Hip Hop.
Anyone questioning Ghostface’s hunger of late should look no further than “The Champ”. He rips the Just Blaze-produced banger to shreds, evoking memories of his first album’s standout track, “Daytona 500”. The flashbacks continue with “9 Milli Bros”, reuniting all nine members of Wu-Tang Clan over dramatic pianos that could have been heard on “Forever”, and with “R.A.G.U.”, one of five tracks featuring Raekwon which gives listeners a nostalgic reminder of “Only Built for Cuban Linx”, arguably one of the best hip-hop albums ever released.
But is this trip down memory lane a positive? Despite the argument that artists should be continually evolving and creating different music, good music is good music regardless of whether it breaks new ground. And, bottom line, this is good music.
Aside from the classic Wu-sounding tracks, the album has more of the lighthearted, soulful sound that we have come to expect from the Ghostface of the new millennium. “Kilo” is an infectious, funky ode to drug dealers that plays on Scarface’s famous analysis of American girls with “Whoever got the kilos got the candy man… Once you got the funds you got the panties man”. “Big Girl” is a message to women urging them to stop doing drugs and concentrate on the more positive aspects of life, over a minimally manipulated soul song reminiscent of the “Pretty Toney” Album track “Holla”.
Ghostface does break some new ground conceptually on “Fishscale”: “Barbershop” is a hilarious look at the rapper’s angst when barbers mess up his hair. On “Underwater”, MF Doom provides the perfect atmospheric production for a psychedelic journey through the deep sea where “Sponge-Bob in the Bentley coupe bangin’ the Isley’s” and “Mermaids with Halle Berry haircuts” co-exist. Even when Ghost keeps the subject matter more standard (drugs, battle tracks, women), he always manages to come across in a unique way that never fails to keep the listener interested.
This is true Hip-Hop. It is not because Ghost uses a certain production sound, flows a certain way, or covers certain topics. It is quite the opposite. This album is a lesson in individual creative artistic expression. Ghost is able to vividly depict his true self and his world through music. Although at times he may stumble, his honesty is a breath of fresh air in an industry littered with formulaic artists.