Track by Track
Ghostface Killah– Ghostdini Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
Article by: Don Di Napoli
If you are reading your first Track by Track, here on iStandardProducers.com, then there are a few things you must know:
#1 The writers here at istandardproducers.com focus mostly on the beats … obviously – hence the name “PRODUCERS” in iStandardProducers.com… however we are still reviewing the record as a whole.
#2 EVERY track gets equal shine…
#3 You know how we do it…we don’t check the credits until the album is heard in its entire.
1. “Not Your Average Girl” (feat. Shareefa) Produced by Scram Jones
The album starts off in a fairly untypical fashion for Ghostface. Instead of a retro comic book / super hero or tale from the hood intro, Ghost wastes no time getting the listener into “Ghostdini”. Shareefa’s vocals set the tone and shine brightly over a Joe Simon and then Dexter Wansel sample as Scram Jones provides the classic uptempo break beat drums. Some may have been scared off that Ghost was doing an “R&B album”, however he sounds as comfortable as ever.
2. “Do Over” (feat. Raheem “Radio” DeVaughn) Produced by The Kaliphat & Mahogany
There is something about Ghostface and Raheem DeVaughn that just works. Certain vocal combination just work. As Method Man found his partner in crime in Redman, I think his fellow Wu Clansman has found his premiere collaborative cohort in the one they call “Radio”. As Raheem sings over a sample of “You Can’t Stop My Love” by Normal Feels, you can ease into this record knowing it’s not a contrived gimmick or record label fulfillment, but a classic in the making from one of the most underrated yet critically heralded MC’s.
3. “Baby” (feat. Raheem “Radio” DeVaughn) Produced by Austin “Watts” Garrick & Rashad “Black Jeruz” Smith
I guess Ghost and Radio (hmmm, collabo album name GhostRadio?) share my sentiments that they make a good team, as the first single off “Ghostdini” starts off with Mr. DeVaughn (unnecessarily) using auto-tune over a Dr. Dre-piano sounding track provided by Watts and Black Jeruz. This is a tale of mutual love and respect, and it sounds as smooth as butter. The snare in this track is a highlight, as it’s crunchy and full of depth, as opposed to a lot of tinny and synthetic sounding snares used on a lot of R&B production.
4. “Lonely” (feat. Jack Knight) Produced by Sean C & LV
The slowed down sample of Love Peace & Happiness’ “Lonesome Lonely & Alone” was definitely the basis of this record, and what a great choice by Grind Music. The track title and sample are indicative of the theme – Ghost’s been replaced by another man and his child is comparing his 2 “fathers”. Since Lenny S. (A&R of this project) told me a lot of the samples were replayed on this record, I can imagine the guitars that intricately weave in and out of this song were replayed for this song.
5. “Stapleton Sex” Produced by Sean C & LV
Holy X-Rated on this record! Don’t know if Mr. Starks can be more sexually graphic here, yet for some reason it feels playful and not as “dirty” as it really is. It’s really just spoken word over a basic soulful loop, so it’s effective for what it is, and that’s an intro for the next song. I guess.
6. “Stay” Produced by Skymark
Probably one of my favorite records on “Ghostdini”, “Stay” starts off with a familiar sped up sample of “Stay A Little Longer” by Yvonne Fair. Ghost’s cadence is as fierce as ever, as he interlaces his lyrics over a deep and rich low end that alternate with Ms. Fair’s classic vocals.
7. “Paragraphs of Love” (feat. Vaughn Anthony & Estelle) Produced by Bei Maejor & Tim Bosky
A pretty staccato piano is present throughout this track, as well as a high pitched synth that one can only subtly hear if listened closely. But it adds a gloss and modern feel to a track that really doesn’t do that much to stand out, however finds a way to blend in with the overall concept of this album.
8. “Guest House” (feat. Fabolous and Shareefa) Produced by J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
You can tell this is going to be a cinematic record by the blistering horn section at the beginning of “Guest House”, produced by the ever-growing production team known as the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and courtesy of a well-chosen sample of “El Jardia” by Johnny Pate. Taking a page out of “Guilty Conscience” from Eminem & Dr. Dre, Ghost finds his girlfriend (played by Shareefa) conspicuously sleeping with the cable guy (played by Fabolous). The track is pretty much a loop of the sample, but it’s so tastefully selected that it’s lack of dynamics go relatively unnoticed
9. “Let’s Stop Playing” (feat. John Legend) Produced by Sean C & LV
Low end theory. No, not the classic 1991 Tribe Called Quest album, but the way the kick drum and bass line drive this entire song, the mix engineer really hit this one on the head. With piano drizzled throughout and the low end thumping, this record has a classic, soul-infused feel. If anything, this song sounds like something that would be on a John Legend album, with JL taking the mic more than Ghost. Once again though, an authentic feel provided by Messieurs Sean C and LV, who really elevated their game after working on American Gangster. They pick up right where they left off earlier in the album, and provide some of key tracks here.
10. “Forever” Produced by Clyde & Harry
Once again Ghost’s vocals are intertwined between a well-chosen sample by Philly’s Clyde & Harry, “We Will Always Be Together” by the Whatnauts. Not the strongest track on the album, however remember this. This is an ALBUM, in which flows well, and touches on different emotions felt between a male and a female. That being said, this bare boned track fits right in with the rest of the record, except for what sound like a few bad sample chops towards the end…Hmm…
11. “I’ll Be That” (feat. Adrienne Bailon) Produced by L.T. Moe
A pleasant surprise, as before listening to this album I had no clue who Adrienne Bailon was. After researching, I saw she was in 3LW and the Cheetah Girls, which made sense, since her sweet and sultry voice sounded very familiar. Just like with Ne-Yo and Raheem DeVaughn, Ghost’s vocals mesh very well with Adrienne’s, over this very chill track featuring syncopated drums, shakers, and flutes throughout. One of the few tracks without any samples or interpolations, it still fits with the authentic feel of the rest of the record. Highlight for sure.
12. “Goner” (featuring Lloyd) Produced by Sean C * LV
A very cool jazzy guitar melody starts of this song, which has a similar feel as “Back Like That” from “Fishscale”. The tempo is very comfortable and non-lagging, but nothing really stands out to make this song fit with the rest of the album. Not the strongest track on the album, however Lloyd’s vocals sound as smooth as ever, just not as “old-soul” as Raheem DeVaughn or other special guests on this album
When some hip hop purists heard about this record, they automatically wrote it off as a sell-out. But after first listen, Mr. Tony Starks never sounded any more comfortable in his own skin. A man with great taste in soul music who has been “emo rap” before that was even a commonly used term or genre. I would love to see Ghost do an album exclusively with Raheem DeVaughn, as “Do Over” and “Baby” are classics which will be heard for decades to come. Big shout outs to Lenny S. and Mike Caruso for helping making this album happen; the results are fantastic and demand replay.
Rating: 4 out of 5