I was first introduced to the Wu Tang Clan when one of my boys from high school had a cassette single with the tracks "Protect Ya Neck" and "Method Man". Once I heard the two tracks, I quickly became a fan of the group. When they dropped their CD, "Enter The Wu Tang: (36 Chambers)", the CD quickly became a favorite of mine with tracks like "Bring Da Ruckus", "Wu Tang: 7th Chamber", "Can It All Be So Simple", "Da Mystery Of Chessboxin'" and my all time favorite Wu Tang Clan song, "C.R.E.A.M.". The Wu Tang Clan did their best to make sure that everyone got their own chance to shine. However, certain members stuck out. For me originally it was the GZA, Method Man and O.D.B. (R.I.P.)
When the Wu Tang Clan members started releasing solo CDs, Method Man's "Tical" was pretty decent, O.D.B.'s "Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version)" impressed me because he was able to mix his humor with good lyrics, especially my favorite song from the CD, "Rawhide" which featured O.D.B. w/Raekwon & Method Man. However, out of nowhere Raekwon released "Only Built For Cuban Linx" and literally I was sent to another world..lol With help from Tony Starks (Ghostface Killah), Raekwon created one of my favorite rap CDs of all time. Although I had the CD, you could find alot of people on campus with the infamous "purple tape". Tracks like "Knowledge God", "Criminology", "Incarcerated Scarfaces", "Rainy Days", let's just say the whole CD gave me a newfound respect for Raekwon The Chef and Ghostface Killah. There was no way that Ghotface Killah's solo CD could outdue "Only Built For Cuban Linx", but "Ironman" had several tight tracks like the first single, "Daytona 500", "Iron Maiden", "Poisonous Darts", "260" and the smooth "Camay". When the Wu Tang Clan finally dropped their second CD "Wu Tang Forever" things were still intact as you expected their next round of solo CDs to do what the first round did. However, that clearly wasn't the case. Just when you thought the Wu Tang Clan may be dead or close to falling of hear comes Ghostface Killah to save the day with "Supreme Clientele". I was caught off guard because 2nd solo CDs by Method Man, O.D.B., GZA and even Raekwon didn't cut it. "Supreme Clientele" is where the whole Wu Tang Clan should have been after their early success. Tracks like "Nutmeg", "Apollo Kids", "Ghost Deini", "We Made It", "Buck 50" and "Wu Banga 101" reminded me of the Wu Tang Clan of old. While "Bulletproof Wallets" and "The Pretty Tony Album" were both tight CDs, they didn't meet the standard that "Supreme Clientele" set.
However, that has all changed with "Fishscale". Ladies and gentlemen, pleased don't be fooled by the first single, "Back Like That" which features r&b newcomer Ne-Yo. Don't get me wrong the track is pretty good but in no way does that give you a fair indication of what the rest of "Fishscale" is about. If anyone thought that Ghostface lost his swagger they will be quickly reminded by the first 3 tracks on his latest CD minus the intro of course. On "Shakey Dog", Ghostface may be at his all time best. Lewis Parker creates a nice, grimey track for Ghostface with the use of an old school sample and Ghostface takes care of the rest as he is rapping for over 3 minutes without a hook. On "Kilo" it is clearly evident of what Ghostface is talking about and his partner in crime, Raekwon also drops a nice verse on this track as well. The hook is cleverly orchestrated and "Kilo" ends up being one of the best tracks on "Fishscale". Just Blaze produces what is clearly the best track on "Fishscale" with "The Champ". If Just Blaze isn't in demand for beats after you hear this track then something must be really wrong with rap music. Ghostface clearly demonstrates that he has not lost any of his skills at all and that he is still a force to be reckoned with as far as the rap game goes. Just Blaze even goes as far as saying that Ghost "hasn't been hungry since "Supreme Clientele" on the track's intro and he is talking like a fighter's manager or the trainer that is trying to coach his fighter inbetween rounds. MF Doom produces what I hope will be one of many tracks to come where all or the majority of the Wu Tang Clan members are all on a track at the same time. "9 Milli Bros." will put you right back where "Enter The Wu Tang" and "Wu Tang Forever" left you. I am not saying that "The W" or "Wu Tang Iron Flag" weren't good CDs but they clearly didn't match up to their first two CDs. On the way too short but great "Beauty Jackson", J Dilla (R.I.P) blesses Ghostface Killah with a nice, old school sampled track and Ghost takes care of the rest with a nice verse. "Crack Spot" is also blessed with a nice sample and it seems as if Ghostface Killah is single handedly trying to bring the Wu back to their original form. "R.A.G.U." is produced by Pete Rock as he displays that he still has skills behind the boards. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon takes care of the rest as usual. You will wish that J Dilla was still amongst the living after you hear "Whip You With A Strap" as Ghostface plays off the fact that kids aren't being disciplined like they were back in the day. Although I am not too familiar with MF Doom as a rapper or a producer, he has clearly made me a believer in him as a producer with his track, "Clipse Of Doom". The track sounds real eerie and Ghostface is able to create 3 fire verses as another one of his right hand men, Trife, is on the hook. Pete Rock shows up again on the track "Be Easy". Ghostface creates a nice hook and takes advantage of having the tight Pete Rock production on this track. "Be Easy" was one of the first tracks that I heard from "Fishscale". Ghostface's Theodore Unit gets a chance to shine on "Jellyfish" and "Dogs Of War". It's nice to hear Cappadonna again on these two tracks as well and Raekwon shows up again to make "Dogs Of War" an even better track. "Barbershop" is another example of a way too short, great Ghostface track. At times you'll be upset because you wish that a track that was sounding so good could be a little longer. On "Big Girl", Ghostface does the same thing that he did on "Holla" from "The Pretty Tony Album". He pretty much takes the whole original track and raps his verses while the original group is singing the original lyrics at the same time. Now I admit that the idea doesn't seem to be the original because you expect better from Ghostface but the track is still pretty good. MF Doom impresses me once again on "Underwater". It almost seems as if Ghostface and MF Doom are beginning to get the same chemistry that Ghostface and RZA had back in the day. On the heartfelt "Momma" Ghostface proves just like he did on "All That I Got Is You" on "Ironman" that he can show another side of himself when he needs to. On the bonus track "3 Bricks", which apparently was left off of Biggie's "Duets" CD, Biggie's 1st verse of "N***as Bleed" is blended in with tight Raekwon and Ghostface verses over a Cool & Dre track. There are no no filler tracks on "Fishscale" but some people may wonder why "3 Bricks" was added as a bonus track when "Fishscale" already contained 23 tracks. I am pretty sure that the Carter Administration had something to do with that.
If you look at all of the Wu Tang Clan's members solo CD catalog nobody can say that they have a run such as Ghostface Killah's. Although "Only Bulit For Cuban Linx" is clearly the best CD from a solo Wu Tang member, none of the Wu Tang members can say that their solo CDs are as consistent as Ghostface's. Ghostface clearly demostrates that he still has the skills to compete with the so-called best rappers of today. With Raekwon eventually releasing "Only Built For Cuban Linx 2" which is going to be executive produced by Busta Rhymes, hopefully the Wu Tang Clan will be able to get back to some kind of level of the consistency that they displayed back in the day. If you are a fan of Ghostface Killah and especially "Supreme Clientele" or if you are an avid Wu Tang Clan fan, you can not afford to pass up on "Fishscale".
James' Top 6 (This wasn't easy for this CD)
1) The Champ
3) Shakey Dog
4) Be Easy
5) Crack Spot
6) Beauty Jackson