Dennis Coles: The Best of…

I had a tough time figuring out who I should highlight in the next edition of “The Best of…”. At first I considered Jay-Z but I quickly scratched that idea. (Maybe in the future.) Then I said “How about Mos Def? Or Lupe?” but then I heard Wu-Tang Clan’s “Triumph” and it became blatantly clear who I should feature; The Ghostface Killer.

Ghost has always been a favorite MC of mine. I missed out on most of his earlier works like Ironman, Supreme Clientele & Bulletproof Wallets. But I did drop-in in time for The Pretty Toney Album. With no disrespect to Ghostface as an artist, they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure; I acquired the album from a girl who attempted to throw it away after winning it as a complimentary prize in the 105.1 showcase that came to our campus.

I remember her screwing up her face and saying:

“Ew. Ghostface? What the hell am I suppose to do with this shit? Pssshht!”

I was within earshot, already eyeing her consolation prize, and said:

“Oh, is that his new album? *Picks Up CD*  Wow, can I have this?”

She relinquished her prize without a second thought and I couldn’t wait to get home and bump Pretty Toney in my stereo. Like I said before, I had always liked Ghostface but, with the exception of Ironman (I  was just too into B.I.G. at the time of its release), I never felt compelled to cop one of his albums. My eyes and ears were already opened to Ghost and his spectacular vernacular and The Pretty Toney Album opened them even wider.

Now that I’m done babbling about popping my Ghostface cherry (pause), let’s get into Theodore’s Top 5 songs.

Collaboration Clause: As usual, these songs are gathered from his studio albums only. But unlike past “Best of…” editions, this one will include collaborations. Despite being a gifted rhymesayer he always invited other artists and fellow Wu-Tang members to get on his tracks.

First Up:

All I Got is You” Featuring Mary J. Blige & Popa Wu (Ironman)

Written for his mother, this has to be Ghost’s most popular and heartfelt song. Ironman, unlike most gangsta rap albums at the time, depicted Ghost as vulnerable and very human. This song is a superb example of the irony (no pun intended) of Ironman. Although the album is filled with mafioso bravado and Wu beliefs, he still managed to show us his heart. He wasn’t a drug kingpin at the age of 9, he was a scraggly welfare kid:

“Grab the pliers for the channel, fix the hanger on the T.V.
Rockin’ each others pants to school wasn’t easy
We survived winters snotty nosed with no coats
We kept it real but the older brothers still had jokes…”

 

Depending on the degree of hardship you’ve experience as a child, you can most likely relate to at least three bars in this song. I too remember having a pair of pliers as a remote. Free lunch held me down like steel and I’ve had to go to a friend’s door with a note that says we’re dead broke. Tony not only told his own story, he also told mine and yours.

“But I remember this mom’s would lick her finger tips
To wipe the cold out of my eye before school wit her spit
Case worker had her runnin’ back for face to face…”

Second:

“Nutmeg” Featuring RZA (Supreme Clientele)

Now I know it might seem like I’m going in chronological order but that is far from the case. In my quest for the best of Theodore I discovered one of his best lyric performances. Of course the song didn’t come without its endorsements. A homegirl of mine, *Cosby Voice* Camille!, was the only one to name “Nutmeg” as one of Ghost’s best songs. I had no idea the song existed so after getting my hands on Supreme Clientele I took a listen.

Scientific, my hand kissed it
Robotic let’s think optimistic
You probably missed it, watch me dolly dick it
Scotty Wotty cop it to me, big microphone hippie
Hit Poughkepsie crispy chicken verbs throw up a stone richie
Chop the O, sprinkle a lil’ snow inside a Optimo
Swing the John McEnroe, rap rock’n’roll
Tidy Bowl, gung-ho pro, Starsky with the gumsole
Hit the rump slow, parole kids, live Rapunzel
but Ton’ stizzy really high, the vivid laser eye guide
Jump in the Harley ride, Clarks I freak a lemon pie
I’m bout it, bout it – Lord forgive me, Ms. Sally shouted
Tracey got shot in the face, my house was overcrowded

You fake cats done heard it first
On how I shitted on your turf
at times, Cuban Link verse yo
Check out the rap kingpin, summertime fine jewelry drippin’
Face in the box, I seen your ear twitchin’
As soon as I drove off, Cap’ came to me with three sawed-offs
Give one to Rae’, let’s season they broth
Lightning rod fever heaters, knock-kneeder Sheeba for hiva
Diva got rocked from the receiver bleeder
Portfolio, lookin’ fancy in the pantry
My man got bigger dimes son, your shit is scampi
Base that, throw what’s in your mouth, don’t waste that
See Ghost lampin’ in the throne with King Tut hat
Straight off

As you can see, the lyrical acrobatics in this song are abundant and that was just the first verse. Supreme Clientele avoided the Wu sophomore jinx and if I could pick a few gems out of its treasure chest “Nutmeg” would definitely be one of them.

 Third:

“Beat the Clock” (The Pretty Toney Album)

How could I not include a song from the beloved Pretty Toney Album? Aside from “Run”, this was a first love of mine. I reveled in the song’s recklessness and worship of excess. This song made me say:

“Ghostface Killah is fucking nice!”

“Beat the Clock” includes Ghost’s usual foreign Strong Island slang and metaphorical outbursts.

I hold a mic like I’m Gail Sails
Hoppin’ over chairs like O.J., my rushin’ yards
Them pen, how the meter spray
Happy wife-beater day, don’t touch my, cheeba hay
Get off my D-I, then go C the K’s (case)
‘Scuse me Mr. D.J., please play “Fish”
Or that “CherChez”, live meeting, ten four, may day-may day
Callin’ all cars, callin’ all cars
We have an APB on Starks and Trife the God
We left the jewelry store, feelin’ like we left the morgue
We was frozen, and I brought an iced out Trojan
That’s for pussies whose golden, who got Toney wide open
I put my ring up to my man’s waves and seen an ocean
Move like a wolf, kid, in sheep’s clothing
Snatch the money bag off the milk truck and kept boating
I be potent like ibuprofen, I be coastin’
With two shotties on me, in your grimiest lobby smokin’

The “iced out trojan” line sealed the deal for me. At a time when I was faithfully listening to D-Block and various other East Coast Rap mixtapes, Ghost’s imaginative and almost free spirited flow reminded that rap wasn’t all about being as rigidly gangsta as possible; the fad at the time. This song reminded me that there is still a substantial amount of artistry to be involved.

 

Fourth:

“Stapleton Sex” (Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City)

Now this can be considered an iffy choice but there are two things that justify its place: Timing and content. First we’ll examine timing. Ghost’s last album, The Big Doe Rehab, was largely slept on and pirated. Ghostdini was him bouncing back from The Big Doe Rehab. Not to say that Doe Rehab wasn’t a good album, it is definitely worth listening to but Ghostdini showed him having fun again while still remaining lyrically potent.

Content; this song is chocked full of explicitly accurate lyrics. Depending on the ferocity of one’s sex life the listener can relate to most of the song’s titillating details.

“Yo my, face is wet, got hair on my tongue
‘Cause I’mma greedy nigga, absorb pussy juice like a sponge
Feel the pretty warm dick, rub it on your clit
Oh, right before I bust, I spray it on your tits
Switch you over, throw you to the side with one leg up
See the head slide in your hole, he stay up
Dick all shiny, helmet head bulging, smack it on your tushie
When I hear the (click click) it’s wet and it’s gushy

 

Lastly:

“Cherchez La Ghost” Featuring U-God (Supreme Clientele)

In terms of this list, this is where things get a little mainstream. A brilliant take on the disco classic Cherchez La Femme/C’est si bon by the Bronx’s own Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, Face let’s loose with gaudy showmanship while still staying faithful to the disco feel.

Brothers try to pass me, but none could match me
No girl can freak me, I’m just too nasty
Lost on the dance floors, I attack y’all
Snuck through the back door, guess who they saw?
Goldie and Ghost, black African Rose
Star-studded low lenses, plus the mural was dope…”

Again he reminds us of his ability to transform the classics he grew up on into dope relatable modern day tunage. There was a time when you couldn’t set foot in a club without hearing this song.

 

Bonus (i):

Metal Lungies Featuring Styles P & Sheek Louch (The Pretty Toney Album)

 

“Metal Lungies” makes the list because of sheer chemistry. It had a sinister blaxploitation theme that matched perfectly with the three’s even more sinister rhymes. As I mentioned earlier, at the time when Pretty Toney was released I was heavily into D-Block. This song presented me with the best of both worlds.

Bonus (ii):

The Forest Featuring Raekwon (Bullet Bulletproof)

Inspired by our favorite fairy tales, cartoons and Disney movies, “The Forest” has to be one of Ghost’s most creative songs. I remember first hearing this song on a DJ Clue mixtape. I marveled at its playfulness.

“Aiyo, my wiz play the flute, I stroll through the forest like
Peace, pussies, trees, hello, how was your day? Have you seen the prince?
Haven’t seen him since he pushed Humpty Da-Dumpty fell off the fence
The Smurfs fell out laughin’, Heckle toe Jeckle at min,
They took my medicaid card, he’s a good friend
Bugs still sniffin’, Daffy Duck snitchin’
And heard that crazy Bird took the stand on the Simpsons
Bet you “My golly, oh glory” with a story to tell
Droopy got knocked, now he Muslim in jail
His name is Abdul, Colorful, Snow White tattoo
She used to send him mad flicks in Cash Rule
And the cat too, old girl who’s clackin’ her shoes
And that wicked witch broke her broom, clappin’ at school
It happens every night, I seen it, shoot outs in Jellystone Park
Kermit had the whip, he did from the Narcs
They bagged Woody, Shaggy shot dead in his hoodie
Tweety did the Bird, “I thaw, I thought I thaw a putty”
Ghost, please you don’t even want to know
Droopy Long wrote a song, like to hear it, here it go…”

 

(More Than) Honorable Mentions:

  1. Soul Controller Featuring The Force M.D.s (Ironman)
  2. Guest House Featuring Fabolous & Shareefa (Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City)
  3. Apollo Kids Featuring Raekwon (Supreme Clientele)
  4. Motherless Child Featuring Raekwon (Ironman)
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