Wu-Tang’s Iron Man sums up his move to Def Jam succinctly: “Same music, different label.” For Tony Starks’s legions of fans, those four words should bring dope music to their ears-literally. Yep, Ghost is back with his fourth solo LP, The Pretty Toney Album, and ain’t nothing changed but the imprint. Nearly three years have passed since 2001′s Bulletproof Wallets, and Ghost is anxious to inject his lyrical wizardry back into the rap game. “When you get something real vintage and out of the ordinary, best believe that shit gonna stand out,” says the Staten Island native. “That’s how I try to keep my music.”
A quick check of his resumé makes it clear that Ghostface’s music always makes a splash. From his 1996 debut Ironman, to 2000′s epic Supreme Clientele, to his last release Wallets, Ghost has more front-to-back classic albums than most rappers have singles. Add his appearances from the Wu-Tang galaxy of hits on songs like “Can It Be All So Simple,” and “Ice Cream” and it’s no idle boast when Ghostdescribes himself as “one of the most creative niggas in the game.” What sets the Wally Champ apart from other MCs is his inimitable style. “I’ll make a n’gga cry in a minute. I’ll make you happy. I’ll make a bitch wanna fuck you,” says Ghost. “Those are my techniques. And that’s the advantage I have over a lot of MCs, because a lot of them is stuck so much in one way, once they try to come out of that realm, people might not take them seriously. I’m auniversal rapper.”
On The Pretty Toney Album, Ghost’s mastery of ceremony is on full display. For the RZA-produced scorcher “Run,” featuring Jadakiss, Ghost concocts an incredibly vivid chase scene while finding inspiration from a fellow Clan member on the hook. “I always loved Cappadonna’s ‘Run.’ When I heard the RZA beat and I wrote a few verses to it, it just seemed like I was running from the cops,” he says. “Great minds think alike.” As in his past classics, Ghost digs deep in the crates for “a lot of old fly shit” by acts like The Moments and Sylvia Robinson on various Pretty Toney interludes. “Those are the records that turned me into the man I am today,” says Ghost. “I wish the niggas that made those beats would make beats for me nowadays, because that’s real soul.” Ghost gets his wish on the mixtape favorite “Holla,” where he unveils a new style by rapping over the Delfonics’ ballad “La La Means I Love You”-not a sample, but the entire song. “‘That’s another one of my babies,” he says. “It goes beyond the words. I rhymed over them without being distracted.” On records like “Holla” and “Tony’s Masquerade,” where producer K-Def creatively flips the David Porter sample that Biggie made famous on “Who Shot Ya,” Ghost drops the type of eccentric lyrical gems that have earned him status as a cult favorite.
“When I paint the picture, you’re seeing my mind right there. Muthafuckas might not understand what I say, but I rhyme for myself before I rhyme for the people,” says Ghost. “‘Cause yo, this is my art. I sat here and did this. All I need is the music. With the right music in my face, I can do anything.” And as 2000′s club hit “Cherchez La Ghost” proved, Ghost can move more than just your mind. He wrote Pretty Toney’s booming lead single, “Toosh,” with a certain club diva in mind. “I heard the recordand it sounded real big to me, so I damaged that shit and begged Missy to get on it,” says Ghost. “She loved it the first time she heard it, and she just went in and did it.” Whether it’s heard in the club or in your headphones, The Pretty Toney Album proves that Ghostface’s run of instant classic is far from over. “I’m not going nowhere for a minute,” says Ghost. “I see myself rhyming until I’m 70… not saying I’m gonna be putting out records and all that, but this is a gift from God.” And like a star playertraded to a new team, Ghost is ready to show and prove for Def Jam. “I ain’t finish balling out yet,” he says with a smile. “This is the beginning.”
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