I don’t really like to choose favorites when it comes to the members of the Wu, but…Ghostface Killah is one of three. As a roomate and friend of RZA, he was instrumental in forming and shaping what we now know today as the Wu-Tang Clan. He is an integral part of the group who is the definition of “team player.” He was featured a considerable amount on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… as well as contributing to film soundtracks and having working on solo projects as well.
Born on the 9th of May in Staten Island, New York, he turned a life of poverty into a career of honest and poetic rhymes as both a member of the Wu and a solo artist. He adopted his name after the villainous character Ghostface Killer from the 1979 film Ninja Checkmate, although he’s more of a hip hop hero when it comes to his music. He also goes by the alias Tony Starks or Ironman, like the Marvel comics’ superhero. In terms of his artistry, he is well known for his stream-of-consciousness writing, a method used by some of American literature’s most esteemed authors. His songs are filled with mysterious, often concealed references and metaphors that gives the listener the opportunity to have an intimate and interactive experience with the song, as they are expected to interpret it for themselves.
I’ve often felt like Ghost’s rhymes were meant to play out like a film in my head, as is the case with Cherchez LaGhost. It’s certainly worth it to do your research when it comes to decoding his songs, but I never allowed cold, hard facts to augment the visions I had already created in my head prior to seeking out a reference tool. The tendency to sample classics and hits that have faded into obscurity gives his albums a historical, generational feel that made them an instant classic, as is the case with Supreme Clientele. The Pretty Toney Album saw an evolution in style and form as RZA’s production was more limited than in Supreme Clientele and involved collaborations with artists such as Missy Elliott and Jacki-O.
I was fortunate enough to see Ghostface (and Raekwon) perform live at the last day of Toronto’s NXNE 2012 music festival. He certainly had a stage presence as he stood tall and proud. But there was also a very playful and candid side to him that you can often catch a glimpse of in his music videos. He danced on stage (and was quite sexy at doing so if I may say) and interacted with the audience, getting us to participate in songs and chant the lyrics. As mentioned in a previous post, Cherchez LaGhost is one of my favorite all time songs and listening to it live was such a powerful experience. The music crept up on the audience and drew us all together as we danced and swayed to the beat. Ghost rapped with a healthy toughness while the women (and most of the men) chanted to Madam Majestic’s girlish, raspy voice. I just remember singing “Amoreeeee, Amoreeee” at the top of my lungs as I moved to the beat. I was elated by the fact that he and Raekwon had performed this song.
Ghost has been quoted as saying “We ain’t tryin’ to hop in, hop out real quick, know what I’m sayin’? We out for the gusto and we gonna keep it raw.”
It is these types of statements that let me know that Ghost (and all the members of the Wu) are committed to artistry and craft and not simply being a flash in the hip hop pan. His music is lovingly crafted and aimed to be a classic as soon as it was released. Ghostface Killah is so much more than a rapper. He is an author, a story-teller and a dream weaver, and I wish him nothing but blessing and artful inspiration in the years to come!