Ghostface’s Top Ten Spoken Word Performances
find few things more depressing than contests where you win the chance to hang out with a celebrity for a day. For one thing, it’s a strange and awkward triangulation between an arranged playdate, a blind date, and hiring a prostitute. Secondly, I find it sad that only a corporate mandate can make John Elway really interested in anything I have to say, regardless of my innovative ideas for Arena League Football.
There are exceptions. Earlier this year, you could be the proud owner of a 24-k Ghostface Killah miniature doll for the tidy sum of $500. But wait…there’s more! One lucky purchaser would win the opportunity to spend the day with Tony Starks. Two questions came to mind; first, seeing as how Fishscale is getting more love on the internet than SoundScan, how many Ghostface fanatics have $500 of disposable income to blow on figurines? And secondly, is it like his concerts where you have to wait three extra hours for him to show up?
But as anyone who’s spent any amount of time with Ghostface knows, whether he’s on wax or in print, he “drops jewels all over the place” (compare him to Busta Rhymes in interviews…seriously). Here then, in vague order, are Ghostface’s Top Ten Spoken Word Performances.
10. Intro to “Gatz” (from 718: The Theodore Unit Mixtape)
It’s not so much because Ghost sounds like he’s having an argument with himself. It’s not even so much because he calls himself a “Ricky Steamboat-ass motherfucker.” It’s more because it sounds like he’s having an argument with himself over the passing of a bottle of Boone’s Farm, something I’ve never seen outside of a sorority mixer or Bar Mitzvah. But since this is a Shawn Wiggs track, it’s quite possible that “Gatz” was recorded at one of the two.
9. Outro to “Last Night (Skit)” (from The Pretty Toney Album)
“Starks got ants in his car!” “You got ants in your mouth, bitch!”
“Ay yo, bowling-ball head!”
8. “Beat The Clock” (from The Pretty Toney Album)
“Beat The Clock” is an obvious highlight on The Pretty Toney Album; hoppin’ over chairs like O.J., Ghost flaunts his elastic flows like his robe collection. But the crazed performance of his brain talkin’ to him (or is it Supreme talkin’ to him?) is what makes this track. How so? Well, it’s such a manic rendering that it successfully glosses over the elephant in the room—what the fuck is a 2:37 clock and why does Ghost have to beat it? And how?
7. “Shark N****z (Biters)” (from …Only Built 4 Cuban Linx)
Before Nas’ “Last Real N**** Alive” came out, if you knew this was about Biggie, my hat goes off to you. This helps me believe that “Three Bricks” never actually happened.
6. Intro to “Kilo” (from Fishscale)
The best PSA against cocaine use since Be Here Now. And by the way, it helps if you know he’s talking about this Catwoman, not Halle Berry.
5. Intro to “Clipse Of Doom” (from Fishscale)
We’re used to certain exhortations being made as a rapper adjusts to the backing track. You know, “turn the beat up in my headphones,” “I am excited to be on this tune and my producer is currently in the studio,” “this is for my hustlas/killaz/the streetz (a.k.a. white internet critics).” You probably should take them at least at face value. Here, we’re led to believe that one or more of Ghostface’s associates are guilty of the following:
- Sippin’ on that bullshit BudweiserAnd for all these crimes, they should serve their penance by eating a dick. Keep in mind that he could’ve stuck with “turn the beat up in my headphones.”
- Wearing Capri pants or something closely resembling Capri pants (let that sink in)
- Are in need of a pedicure (strange, considering that males wearing Capri pants likely possess tarsal hygiene above reproach).
4. “Woodrow” (from Supreme Clientele)
Just about every week, I have to argue with stubborn fools (well, mostly Stylus writers) who claim that Lil’ Wayne deserves to be mentioned in the same solar system as Ghostface as far as MC’ing goes. They should consider this; in two minutes, Ghost and his alter-ego (Woodrow The Basehead) capture the highs, lows and bizarre middles of the drug trade with greater clarity, pathos and humor than the entirety of Weezy’s discography. And it’s a skit. For further insight, check here for a detailed overview.
3. “The World According To Pretty Toney…” (MTV2 advertisements)
“Five dollars’ll smash that.” An internet must-see on par with the Eastern Motors commercial. Is that a Bill of Rights Starter jacket?
2. Intro to “Glaciers Of Ice” (from …Only Built 4 Cuban Linx)
With the possible exception of The Blueprint, every five-star classic hip-hop album has a five-star classic skit that everyone knows the words to. See “The $20 Sack Pyramid,” the “Fuck Me” interlude from Ready To Die, and that OutKast joint where they’re talking about black rights in space. While this technically is not a skit, it’s still…I don’t even know. Let’s just say that if you have a hip-hop blog, you probably quote this about twice a week.
1. “Who Would You Fuck?” (from Supreme Clientele)
Supreme Clientele is my favorite hip-hop album of the new century and possibly ever, but for a good amount of time, I had no idea what half the tracks were named. I don’t know if future pressings remedied this, but the back of the CD lists about ten of the album’s 22 tracks. Some are just abbreviated one-word titles. Others are tracks that don’t even exist.
I’ll spare you what I came up with to make the CD jive with my computer stereo, but the only one I managed to get right was this skit, where Ghostface, RZA, Method Man and Trife Da God discuss who they’d fuck from Three’s Company and Good Times and whether they’d rather do a robbery with Rah Digga or Lady of Rage. I’d rather sit in on the recording of this than the signing of the Constitution.
It’s fitting that this comes right before “Child’s Play,” Ghost’s paean to grade school crushes. Fast-forward twenty or so years, and he still sounds the same—horny, but good-natured and brimming with youthful enthusiasm, willing to push the envelope to air everything out (humping the pillow?).
Gavin Mueller stated in his Wu-Tang retrospective that Supreme Clientele was an album that radiates pure love, and he couldn’t be more right. Ghost been known to call himself a “soul baby,” and it’s not just in his source of sample material. He has one of the most emotive voices in hip-hop’s history, leading some to question whether he’s emo-rap. While this skit doesn’t necessarily have a whole lot of gravitas, it does prove why I find it hard to invest myself in a lot of the hip-hop that’s come out this year. Unlike the loveless “80’s babies” and the rappers they admire for their ability to not give a fuck about anything, Ghostface is never afraid to sound passionate.