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Ghostface Killah Big Doe Rehab Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Ghostface's narratives are still lucid and evocative and his flow visceral and vital.

Alex Forster 2007

As the Wu faithful come to terms with the fact the new record (8 Diagrams) won't save hip hop, the rep of the Staten Island crew now rests firmly on the shoulders of its most consistent performer, Tony Starks, aka Ghostface Killah. GFK’s well publicised dissent in the 8-strong clan, centered around Wu svengali RZA, whom Raekwon recently dubbed a 'hip hop hippie' for the new album's experimental direction. This combined with Ghostface and Rae claiming RZA owes them money, culminating in the delay of 8 Diagrams' release - it was pulled back to make way for Big Doe - have only reinforced the assertion that Ghostface flys solo.

Big Doe is GFK's seventh studio album; a triumph and a tragedy in the same breath. His narratives are still lucid and evocative and his flow is as visceral and vital as …36 Chambers, 14 years ago. The tragedy comes in the form of a missed opportunity. Where 2006’s Fishscale was exemplary in matching chart-friendly, throwback soul and surrealism, the majority of Big Doe lacks the creative punch of Ghosts' best work.

GFK's skill as a story teller remain peerless. “Walk Around”s intense and reflective narrative comments on the psychological fallout of committing homicide. What sets it apart from your average bullets-by-numbers ode to murder is the vulnerability in Ghostface’s delivery.

"Shakey Dog" and "Yolanda's House" are classic Wu Tang; slow-burning high drama over dusty drums and '70s-soul sonic flourishes; GFK and Raekwon sound on point throughout, and Meth kills it on the latter. "Slow Down" is also a gem, Chrisette Michele could be Billie Holiday, her sweet voice offsets GFK's throaty confessional.

The irony is in all the furore surrounding the sound of the new Wu Tang Clan record, one of Ghostface's main objections with RZA was that he didn't let any new producers in to diversify the music. If only he had taken his own advice, The Big Doe Rehab may have gone on to do what only his 1996 debut classic Ironman has managed, shift a million and perhaps confirm Ghostface Killah as one of the all time greats.

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