In March, Wu-Tang veteran Ghostface Killah dropped the finest album of 2006 in "Fishscale," a beautiful and focused album full of unique and original material, further establishing Ghost's legend as the most consistent rapper in hip hop. Unfortunately, the album was promoted poorly and sold slowly, so what did Ghost do? He went right back to the studio in the summer and got to work on the aptly titled "More Fish," which is released less than nine months later. "More Fish" is excellent, one of the top releases of the year, not quite on the same level as its predecessor but incredibly close. Like the last album, Ghostface shines lyrically. "Fishscale" was balanced between rough, street-level mafioso style tracks and polished soulful songs, and "More Fish" basically does too. I'd say that overall "More Fish" was a little more on the hard, raw side. The production is similar to "Fishscale"'s as well, utilizing lots of horns and soul instrumentation, female vocals, and a very unique, focused sound. Ghost's Theodore Unit crew is very prominent on this album (they are even credited on the cover), and on this album, I am even more impressed with the group including Shawn Wigs, Trife da God, and Ghosface's own son Sun God, and I look forward to hearing more material from them in the future. They really complement Ghostface well on most of the tracks. Guests are heavier on this album, other spots go to Cappadonna, Redman, Kanye West, Sheek Louch, Eamon, Amy Winehouse, and the Willie Cottrell Band. "More Fish" does "Fishscale" complete justice and is again one of the best releases of 2006.
The album begins with "Ghost Is Back," a song utilizing a classic old-school sample for Ghost to announce his return and make a grand entrance. "Miguel Sanchez" is the first song on the album to explore the mafioso rap style that Ghostface has mastered throughout his career. This song features guest appearances from Trife and Sun God. The production is rough and horn-heavy. The next two songs "Guns N' Razors" and "Outta Town S..." follow in the same manner, both excellent tracks. I am really enjoying "Good," one of my favorite songs on the album. This should be an obvious single, it is a joyful sounding, upbeat song featuring a Trife and a particularly soulful chorus from Mr. Maygreen, Ghost and Trife trade off boastful, happy verses over heavy jazz horns. "Street Opera" kind of reminds me of "Shakey Dog" from "Fishscale," very tough with smooth music. "Block Rock" has gritty-sounding production and lyrics, a very street-level song. "Pokerface" is a very original song. In the way that Wu-Tang used the metaphor of chess throughout numerous songs during the 90s, Ghost and rhyming partner Shawn Wigs do the same to Texas Hold `em on this song. I didn't like the Redman collabo "Greedy B....," but after that comes my favorite song on the album "Josephine." The Willie Cottrell Band provides a funky, thoughtful live instrumentation to this great song, and the singing vocals of the hook are soulful and excellent. Ghostface and Trife both rap about the downfall of a woman, and this song is just great, everyone performs to their full potential. "Grew Up Hard" follows it well, a smooth and catchy rap song. D-Block vet Sheek Louch shows up for "Blue Armor," maybe the hardest song on the album. The odd "You Know I'm No Good" and funny "Alex (Stolen Script)" follow, the latter reminds me of a few of the more obscure songs on "Fishscale." Shawn Wigs is allowed a solo song for "Gotta Hold On." Initially I was not looking forward to this, but it turned out to be one of my favorite on the album, and it's a song I really like. Shawn raps heartfelt lyrics about a tough relationship, and Eamon (of "I Don't Want You Back" fame) sings a surprisingly good hook over a good beat that's really catchy and fitting. The album ends with a remix to "Fishscale"'s hit single "Back Like That," this time featuring Kanye West.
I am so impressed that Ghostface Killah could release not only one but two of the most original, enjoyable hip hop albums of my memory within only eight months of each other. If you liked "Fishscale" at all, then this should be a no-brainer of a purchase. You won't find it being redundant though, because it's also a very impressive single listen even without its predecessor. This is an awesome album, and Ghostface really provides great hip hop in a time where it often seems like it's lacking. Whether or not he is rewarded with sales this time around, Ghostface certainly is the rapper of the year.