Ghostface Killah

Real Name: Dennis Coles
D.O.B.: May 19th, 1970 Staten Island, New York

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Ghostface is widely known as an original member of the hip hop collective. He is revered for his up-tempo, seemingly indecipherable stream-of-consciousness rap with pure lyrical dexterity. His vivid imagination and emotionally charged raps made for an intense soundscape through every album into his late career. He introduced himself on the seminal Wu-Tang group album, Enter the 36 Chambers before launching his own solo career not long after. On his recordings Ghostface takes on multiple roles of characters in every walk of life with a strong flavoured soundtrack of soul and funk tracks backing up the RZA-produced Wu-like beats.

Ghostface Killah was born in Staten Island, New York. He debuted with the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan on their critically acclaimed début, 1993's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Ghostface was a room-mate of Wu-Tang founder The RZA and helped bring together the other seven members. He would function as executive producer on all the Wu-Tang Clan releases.

Recording Career

  • Ironman
  • In 1995, Ghostface would guest star extensively on fellow Clan member Raekwon's début album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.... He also contributed songs to the Sunset Park and Don't Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood soundtracks. Ghostface kept the Wu-Tang dynasty alive in late '96 with the fifth solo release from the super-group. Ironman plays like a Wu-Tang album; it was produced by the group's RZA and includes many posse cuts by the Clan. The album opened at #2 on the Billboard 200, had a more pronounced soul influence than previous Wu-Tang releases and became the stylistic trait of Ghostface's albums.

    Compared to other first generation solo albums released by Wu-Tang members, it is slightly different owing much of its thematic scope, mythology and samples from classic 60's and 70's blaxploitation as well as Kung Fu films. It is also notable for being more open in its references to the Nation of Gods and Earths and the Clan's beliefs as a whole as is illustrated in the vocal interlude before the song Black Jesus. Contrary to the earlier Wu-Tang solo albums, in which the emcees involved were seen to be infallible (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Liquid Swords), Ghostface is very "human" here, with a tribute to his mother on "All That I Got Is You" and a song about one of his past women on "Wildflower". Ghost rhymes on this album with a unique uptempo, stream-of-consciousness style. The album is filled with collaborations and only two tracks ("Wildflower", "Poisonous Darts") feature Ghostface on his own. The two most prominently featured artists are Raekwon and Cappadonna, appearing on 13 and 5 tracks respectively. They accompany Ghost on the album's cover and their names are also featured on the cover. On this album, Ghostface discovers a new and highly praised lyrical style, which he would continue to use on his highly acclaimed second album Supreme Clientele. On this LP, producer RZA combines the dark keyboard tones (which were heavily used on Liquid Swords) and the soul samples (which were heavily used on Only Built for Cuban Linx) to create a soulful and melodic yet dark and harsh feel which would later influence many other Wu-Tang releases, such as Wu-Tang Forever and Uncontrolled Substance and many other Eastcoast artists.

  • Supreme Clientèle
  • Ghostface returned in 2000 with his follow-up, Supreme Clientèle. It was released on January 25, 2000 on Razor Sharp/Epic/SME Records. The album sold well over 700,000 copies. Clientèle was critically acclaimed by both hip-hop enthusiasts and mainstream critics and largely credited as reviving the waning Wu-Tang dynasty. It is considered one of the best Wu-Tang solo albums, along with GZA's Liquid Swords and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.... The album's acclaim is notable considering that most of the Wu-Tang's second solo releases were considered disappointments. Supreme Clientèle peaked at #2 and #7 on Billboard's (North America) Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and the Billboard 200 list, respectively.

    Supreme Clientèle featured only four tracks produced by Wu-Tang's own super-producer, RZA despite overseeing the album's project production and being listed alongside Ghostface as the executive producer. Other Wu-affiliated producers contributed to the beats. The album contained a dis toward then-up-and-coming 50 Cent. In the "Clyde Smith" skit Wu-tang member Raekwon, with the use of voice distortion plays the role of a man named Clyde Smith. Clyde Smith addresses 50 Cent and his 1999 song "How to Rob," in which 50 Cent jokingly rhymes about how he'll rob many popular music artists, including RZA, Raekwon, and Ghostface. The skit drew a response from 50 Cent, who would later dis Wu-tang in an underground mixtape freestyle.

  • Bulletproof Wallets
  • Ghostface wasted little time in recording his next album, the heavily R&B-influenced Bulletproof Wallets, released a year after Supreme Clientèle. He had another minor club hit with "Flowers", which features guest vocals from fellow Wu-Tang members Method Man and Raekwon, although the album would be met with disappointing sales and reviews. The album struggled to sell more than 100,000 first week. It was hampered during its production by sample clearance issues, which led to some tracks such as "Flowers" being heavily watered down, while other tracks (such as "The Sun") failing to appear at all, despite being listed in the liner notes.

    Bulletproof Wallets continued the unfortunate tradition of erroneous track-listing that plagued Ghostface until his move to Def Jam; the sleeve of the album contains numerous mistakes, including songs that never made the final cut and omitting others that do appear, whilst simultaneously confusing the running order. Ghostface Killah blamed his record company, Epic, for the problems, and claimed that they hadn't been willing to financially back him in buying the sample clearance rights. Ghostface later left Epic, having fulfilled his contractual obligation with a Greatest Hits release, and signed for Def Jam.

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