Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah returned to music this week with his 10th studio album "The Lost Tapes." The hip-hop icon’s first solo effort since 2010 is a soulful, star-studded piece that will please longtime fans and hip-hop heads alike.
Big Ghost’s production is paint-by-the-numbers here, never straying outside of Ghostface’s comfort zone. The jazz-rap style Ghostface executed well on his collaboration with BadBadNotGood, "Sour Soul," continues on "Tapes" but with a nostalgic tint. The album sounds like it came out of a '90s time capsule, and this makes for easy listening. The instrumental arrangement in “I Think I Saw a Ghost” would sound right at home on "36 Chambers" or any other Wu-Tang record. “Buckingham Palace” and “Done It Again” have grand, horn-laden backing tracks that have become a staple to any Ghostface album.
Ghostface’s performance on this record is solid.
"Tapes" is missing the highly conceptual nature of his more critically acclaimed albums like "Twelve Reasons to Die." It doesn’t take away from enjoying the album, but it prevents "Tapes" from ascending to the upper echelon of his and Wu-Tang’s catalog.
Ghostface still has punch to his lyrics, though he delivers them with less energy than he did in his prime. His self-comparison to other entertainment legends on “Saigon Velour” is appropriate: "Count the plaques on the wall, like I sang for The Beatles/ Went from label to label, changed my name to Clark Gable." The hook to “Majestic Accolades” is a major high point on the record, acting as an earworm that sticks around in your head long after listening.
The album is chock-full of features from hip-hop’s past and present.
"Tapes" has appearances from legends including Snoop Dogg and E-40, fellow Wu-Tang members Raekwon and Killah Priest as well as rising artists including Benny the Butcher.
All of the features are good, but the sheer number of them is a detriment to the album. The only tracks that don’t feature another person are the two interludes “Put the Ghostface on It” and “Reflections of C.R.E.A.M.” Quite often, Ghostface gets lost in the shuffle of his own album. His distinctive nasal inflection is present through the album, but it appears far too little for a Ghostface solo effort. No single performance sticks out as not holding its own, but no performance is mind-boggingly spectacular either.
"The Lost Tapes" is another solid outing from this popular Wu-Tang Clan member. Although the album has its faults, most notably the bloated supporting cast and a lack of conceptual storytelling that showcases Ghostface at his best, it is still an enjoyable listen that you will come back to for at least a few of the tracks.