Why Ghost Can’t Make It

Granted, Ghostface Killah’s new album won’t be out – in stores, at least – for another week or so, but I’m going to go ahead and assume it will fail miserably. It hit Internets file sharing networks late this week and I reviewed it on my own site yesterday.

Like I said in my review, I find it to be a pretty good album, falling in his catalog somewhere between 2001′s Bulletproof Wallets, definitely his worst album, and 2004′s The Pretty Toney Album, which was incredible.

Ghost’s albums ranked in order from best to worst:

  1. Supreme Clientele
  2. Ironman
  3. The Pretty Toney Album
  4. Fishscale
  5. Bulletproof Wallets

I wonder if people will beg to differ as far as those first three are concerned. I think an argument could be made for putting Pretty Toney number two, but I think (I hope) we can agree that Supreme Clientele is Ghost’s best album by far. He still does like 3/4 of it in concert, compared to like one or two songs from most of his other albums and maybe nothing from Bulletproof Wallets.

[Note that I'm aware that Bulletproof Wallets was severly hamstrung by sample clearance issues and other issues with Ghost's label. I'd still rather listen to 718.]

Of course most of the people at my site disagree, but then my site is frequented by assholes and idiots. Most (basically all) of them haven’t heard it yet, but the tendency is to want to believe that it’s even better than The Pretty Toney Album. After all, XXL itself gave it an XL rating, and they don’t just hand those out.

But regardless of where you think Fishscale ranks in the Ironman canon, I think it’s about obvious at this point the album is poised to fail commercially just like its immediate predecessor. The Pretty Toney Album wasn’t nearly as challeging a work, to use a euphemism, and that shit went wood like a mofo. You can’t help but wonder if this is the end of an era.

I don’t have the figures in front of me, but you’d have to assume that an album like Fishscale costs quite a bit to produce. It’s got like 23 tracks on it, and most if not all of them feature at least one, if not multiple samples. Part of Ghost’s problem with his old label Epic was that they didn’t want to shell out for so many samples. Maybe they knew something Def Jam didn’t.

I don’t know how many more albums Ghostface’s deal with Def Jam calls for, but I wonder how many more times he can put out an album like Fishscale before Jay-Z has Memphis Bleek leave a note on his desk (on a Friday, of course) telling him his services are no longer needed.

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  • http://XXLmag.com Brendan

    I agree with your ranking for the most part. I grudgingly agree that TPTA is better than Fishscale, although there are moments on TPTA (“Tush”) that make me cringe more than a Ne-Yo single ever could.

    • patch

      “before Jay-Z has Memphis Bleek leave a note on his desk (on a Friday, of course)”…good one

  • Ben

    First I want to say it was a good read. But and don’t agree with you first of all Ironman is his best album. The XL rating is pretty reasonable for Fishscale. I only heard it three times, but from what I heard i can say that the first 6 tracks are almost classic. Saidly enough the second part isn’t. The 9 milli brothers tracks is hot as hell. The production is more then fine.

  • Deez Legumes

    You’re bugging about TPTA. That shit is cool, but pretty uninspired. Also, are we talking the original version of Bulletproof Wallets that he delivered to the label, which had “The Watch” “GoodTimes” “The Sun” “The Forrest” with the Wizard of OZ bridge, and the OG version of “Flowers” with the ? Or are we talking about the bullshit they put out after they fucked up all the sample clearance? Same question goes for Ironman. We talking about the OG version with the real “Box In Hand” and the extra skits?

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    I’m talking about the officially released versions of all the albums.

  • G Off

    Wouldn’t Ghost fit perfectly with Def Jam Left? Jay said it was for artists that aren’t going to sell huge numbers in the first week, and won’t have to recoup as much so they can be more successful. This sounds perfect for an artist like Ghost who has a strong fanbase, but isn’t likely to be purchased by 13 year old Suzy to push it to big numbers.

  • Amar

    “After all, XXL itself gave it an XL rating, and they don’t just hand those out.”

    XXL gave Tony Yayo an XL too, if you ask me, THATS just handing them out. Yayo’s album was like a negative medium.

    I think your animosity for Toney Stark’s new album is because it is being overhyped by got damned fools. Alot of new fans want to rep Killah so people think they know Hip-Hop.

    If you give it a real chance, you’ll know its an extra-extra large record. I’m talkin going to Wendy’s and biggie sizing the bitch on one of those triple deckered burgers! I have only heard like 3 songs that are suppose to be on it on vinyl. And like Brendan said, Pretty Toney had “Tush” on it! I think that Fishscale will have a one-up on Pretty Toney.

  • gerv

    I’m a big Ghost Face fan and Boolet proof wllets was not a bad album,though it was not his best.I got to agree the album probably won’t do well,but that is because kids are being raised on commercial garbadge now days.If it ain’t played on the radio all day most fools will not buy it.

  • dollar_wells

    It was ya boy, “celebrity intern” whoeverthafuck over there at Village Voice (not dude making up shit about New York’s singles scene — of all the shit to get busted on, ffs, you can’t pop a Sparks and Viagra, spit game, get disse and write it up or some shit?) who said a week or two back how with Jay leading the push at Def Jam, a rapidly-expansing hipster fanbase, and a near-dream team of indie producers, Ghost spits an album of dense, claustrophobic coke-rap. I haven’t heard the official LP, but the advance leak fit that descripto perfectly. I’m pulling for Ghost, but I don’t think this will get him TRL spins (or 106 and Park, for that matter)…

  • ishakamusa


    Please give us the rundown. How does it happen that Ghostface winds up dropping this album? Who is to blame? The record companies? The producers? Ghost? Did they just run out of money in the studios.

    How is it that with no money they did the 36 Chambers, but then with the piles of money, they put out this stuff?

  • lord quanique

    Ghost needs to get off that abstract bullshit, and talk clearly. Be more of motivational speaker like his label mate. Because the nigga street. Iknow we hustle together and that what I’ve been waitng for. Because these youngin are lackin.

  • BlakAzNite

    I think the industry is so full of commercial bullsh*t that most rappers and producers are simply trying to appeal to the masses versus creating some real live hip hop. Unfortunately bullsh*t talks. In the current rap game, money talks, real hip hop walks and ain’t that a b*tch! I think Fishscale has some tight beats and the lyrics are on point. Just because it’s not flooded with Kanye beats doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of an XL rating. So if something is not commercial as hell, it’s not a tight album? Come on…you might as well call Will Smith the greatest rapper of all time if that’s the case.

  • Mike J

    The only reason why i dont agree with you is because with the garbage thats out now, and since now technology and talent are favorable to pure talent(why you think Kanyes so popular) i thought that this was a very harsh review considering that Ghost has put out good albums consistently and is still the Sherlock Holmes of the Game!!!

  • http://www.illstrip.com Antartic P

    We make good hip hop … get your knowlegde up on IllStrip, check out the website … but Ghost album will be ill no question … its just opinions … but i think dude had a good question with they were broke when they made 36 Chambers … why is it so hard for them to make some hot shit now … even with the sampling problems …??????? My only answer would have to be WE NEED SOMEONE THATS HUNGRY … THATS STARVIN … THATS BLOOD THIRSTY … THIER BACK IS AGAINST THE WALL AND ITS REALLY ALL OR NOTHING NOT JUST SOME MARKETING PLAN … im not saying the WU isnt … but as far as the mentality that its either this or back to the streets … thats not them anymore … what’s thier true motivation for making music now … but thats how the wu was when they first came in the game and same for all of the others … plus they were fresh [new] … and still ill which made them spread like a virus … the beats were crazy and the rhymes were even crazier … thats what we need now … a new team thats hungry … and i mean HUNGRY … the type that dont know what its like to go overseas and tour … but they know exactly what to write in those 16 bars … and compose a sick as beat that will make ur head knod until it snaps … get on stage with a presence thats remininscent of KRS-1 …

  • Alston from St. Maarten (Caribbean)


    You cant rank ironman with anything since supreme clientele, is a whole different phase of hip hop, if ironman came out in 2001 it would have flopped cause those beats were for the 90′s.
    Now back to the point, homie you cant diss bulletproof wallets, that album was solid and ‘the forrest’ and the robbery track with Rae were the most creative hip hop songs that whole year. I rank bulletproof wallets equal with the pretty toney album because they were lesser albums than supreme clientele but were both critically acclaimed and loved by all heads who KNOW ghost should be ranked in the top 5 Mc’s out right now. Straight up and down.

  • alex norales

    i disagree with your rankings of ghost’s albums i believe that ironman should be number and supreme clientele should be number 2 i heard a few songs from the new album fishscale and i believe that is it better than the pretty toney album because on fishscale ghost is going back to his roots bacj when he had that mask over his face and everyone was asking who is that? dude. just listen to 9 milli brothers and you’ll see what im talking about…peace gods!!

  • Ace

    it’s like this

    1. Supreme Clientele
    2. Ironman
    3. Fishscale
    4. Bulletproof Wallets
    5. The Pretty Tony Album

    his last album most of the tracks were skippable. this album should go gold at least if those nerd ass bogger eating no girlfriend having losers stop download his stuff.

  • radnuw

    Ghost is illi and the album is insane.. so all that bullshit .. that is out now.. is mildly attractive… Ghost is a creative genius.. The original ‘ODB’ aint no father to his style either..

  • http://www.uvmix.com DROID

    The new album is great, my guess is that it will sell somewhere between 75K and 90K its first week, making it more successful then Pretty Tony, his weakest album ever. So Bol, since you think you’re so smart, tell me how many albums you think Fishscale will sell.

  • mike

    Ghostface has never left and never will. Fishscale is a good album and ranks #3 under the Tony Starks catalog. That’s just because Ironman and Supreme Clientele are classics of their era. It is not fair to judge the quality of an album on record sales alone. We are living in different times and commercial shit sells.

    Recommended Fishscale tracks:
    2)Big Girl
    4)Shaky Dog
    5)The Champ
    7)Be Easy

    You choose the order.

  • remo

    first of all, we all know ghost is kind of like left field with that shit and we know that. it aint a secret about his sampling of beats. I cop Pretty Toney and it wasnt his best, medicore, actully, but ill still play that shit over half the shit out now, and from what i heard, fishscale is going to appeal to that old soul in me. The only problem I got with the fishscale: NO RZA BEATS!!!!!????????? WTF!!!!!!!!!! (P.S. You are sometimes a hater, but puttin Supreme Clientele at 1. is something i can agree with u on, as well as the rest of the list)

  • GF Scoob

    I’ll be honest and say Pretty Toney had to be the most boring album i’ve heard from Ghost. No WU collabs, weak samples & guests it was all bullshit. So for ghost to comeback so strong with this album is incredible. Fishscale is the illest album I heard in awhile, it actually made me smile. I think Ghost would be more successful on the indy route at this point tho. Peace to Ghost.

  • Big O

    Yo what the fuck are you all talking about, every cd. ghost came out with to me was a banger, how the hell can you diss pretty toney, everybody that i know heard it loved it. What do you want him to go back to RZA with those weak stupid ass beats, I heard iron man and bullet proof wallets had me banging my head. Ghostface is undisputed point blank, and he needs to keep the shaolin slang, if people from other cities cant grasp it fuck’em let them grasp “laffy taffy” i dont care. All of you columnist swear that you speak for all of hip hop, I have been in best buy the other day to cop “fishscale” and there was only eight left and that is in Huntsville, Alabama. Dont try to speak and influence people with this bullshit about Ghost, let Ghost get his, he is one of the hottest artist out now!!! the best storyteller there is street wise to me and he keeps me laughing, peace to my hometown laurelton, queenz stand up!!!1

  • Big O

    On top of that Pretty Toney had some of the illest samples, i am a hip hop junkie and move to only the hottest beats, every sample on those joints was hot!!!thats my opinion fuck it!!!

  • ghostfan

    The new album is bangin. dont matter what the haters are sayin anyway it’s either you know what dope music is or ya dont. Bol obviously doesn’t. end of story.

  • dream tdk

    i disagree with the number one spot i feel ironman was his best album but everyone has there on opinion, i love ghost i just feel bad man you can suck like ja-rule but have a good premoter thats all ghost need some mike jones type of permotion

  • J-Norf

    Ghost has a heavy discography. It’s better than most rapper’s so stop the hatin’. It might not be Supreme Clientele two, but heavy no less. I suppose people have high expectations of Wu albums and they have to live up to the hype. Some of the albums might have been disapointing but at least with a Ghost album your guaranteed at least one banger (or yo money back lol)

  • DC Kid

    I love Ghost, but on the Pretty Toney album, everything after track 11 (except for “Run”) was wack.

    The order goes like this:
    1) IronMan
    2) Supreme Clientele
    3) Fishscale
    4) Bulletproof Wallets
    5) Pretty Toney

    And what “Tush” did for that album is kinda like what “All I Got Iz You II” did for the Immorbilarity album, it just threw it off. Even the skits weren’t Wu . He definitely took it back this album and for anyone to say other wise is just fucking crazy. Ghost gonna keep doing it how he been doing it. Fuck this filler rap, Laffy Taffy commercial bullshit! If anybody knows anything about hip hop then they know Ghost is the truth. Nuff said.

  • Iniiso Awak

    Bullet Proof Wallets would have been Ghostface’s (and best album that would rival Cuban Linx for the Wu rown) if the real album would have been clear. The Sun, Goodtimes, The Watch, the original Flowers are all classic songs. I still like the Album though. Ghost delivery and flow were unmatched on that Album.

  • http://www.myspace.com/mmacbeats M Mac

    …so yea 500,000 copies sold the first week is failure…ok pal, I’d also re-evaluate that list you got there, The Pretty Tony album was WACK!

  • Big O

    You mean Pretty Toney was the shit,right? many of you cats are to young, he pulled out all old soul and freaked it. Sometimes the problem is people try to create a new sound and commit suicide and kill the record. Look at RZA, he fell off trying to get all spaced out on some wild shit, fuck that Pretty Toney was undoubtably one of his hottest, and lyrical content also.

  • Big O

    And to the columnist, what do you have to say now, I told you I would be back, to get straight in yo ass!!! I told you motherfuckas!!Ghost did 110,000 in the first week, and he is still going to get much, much, more. Check yourself before you make these fake ass predictions pseudofakeassnastrodamus wannabees!!!!!

  • sincere majesty

    2.Supreme Clientele
    4.The Pretty Toney album
    5.Bulletproof Wallets

    Need i say more? the god aint doing commercial trash. HE IS A HIP HOP PIONEER!!!!! RECOGNIZE THAT FOOLS! GET SOME KNOWLEDGE!

  • star

    ya gotta stop talking like ghost aint the nicest out there, how the fuck laffy taffy & other bullshit out there supposed to be hip hop all that shit is is a cute beat with a catchy hook, lean wit it rock wit it what the fuck is that shit, just hear shaky dog or ragu or 9 milli bros, shit i dont even like biggie remakes but even 3 bricks is hot those songs alone put a kick in any other artists ass

  • Unstoppable_G-Bahamas

    I personally think that the fishscale album could have ranked higher than suggested. It is a touch of old school rap that i have been needing to hear in the game today. Alot of that commercial shit has brainwashed the new school and changed their view on the true basis of hip hop. Fishscale brings some flavor for tha business and hopefully this album could remind the youths today what listening to a real album feels like.

    Well as far as the sale part may go, i dont know? Because people dont have a respect for what an artist have to do to produce a album, so they go and download it. That why alot of good artists dont put their all into the music nomore because people cant support the industry. But personally i hope this album sell and Ghost goes on to produce much more, cause fishscale is some sort of remedy for hip hop today and that what we need. I am tired of diluted rap lyrics and commercial garbage.

  • http://GhostSampleBudget MIke

    Do some research first buddy. You don’t need a big sample budget if the payments are coming off the back-end. If you read the credits for the album find S. Robinson ( S is for Scutch). He is the son of famous singer Betty Wright. He has a plethera of songs under his belt, and is close friends with everyone in Ghost’s camp. So actually, the “budget” for samples is actually ZERO DOLLARS.

  • Big O

    Yes Mike, hit that mothefucker in the gut!!!! lmao

  • http://AOL Lendaman

    How dare brothers try to disrespect the ghost. First ghost is the only Wu member still holdin it down. I think of Ironman and I think of the cut Black Jesus I mean damn who in the fuck would think of samplin the scene from Cornbread Earl and Me when Cornbread got shot listen to it. Then go to Supriem Clientele when it is was he Meth and the whole Wu tang Clan trck it sounded like one of those Marvel Superhero carttons we used to listen watch back in the day hot. Bullet Proof Wallets whack? What about Never be the same again, ghost Flowers, Theodore you know party people youre the reason were here… you know that shit was hot. I must admit I fronted on the Pretty toney because whenever I tried to get it it was gone however I will get it but damn Fishscale vintage classic ghost. You assholes are too ignorant to appreciate true hip hop if it talkin about shake ya ass or cap a nigga or drinkin a 40 or sellin crack yall dont wanna hear it Ghost is the last of a dying breed I see hip hop dying cause that laffy taffy shit is bullshit there are a few cats reppin the south such as Luda, Outkast and a few others but overall the south need to stop comin up with those bubblegum tunes and nursery ass rhymes and come on with the real. The South is fuckin up hip hop minus a few down ass niggas. And too My nigga Big O LAURELTON QUEENS IS IN DA HOUSE!!!! Like MIKEY D SAYS MERRICK BLVD QUEENS THE PLACE THATS TOUGH


    So far Ghost is selling decently. Like I said to my boys if it took you 6 albums to realize money grip is not exactly a Commercially viable MC, then you may be in the wrong line of work.

    I don’t know if you just don’t like the guy or if you really thought the joint would tank, but last time I checked, rhymes from the heart + production straight from the crate = A dopeass modern classic, whatever era you come from.

    I didn’t read your blog before, and I won’t be reading it after this most likely. It happened to be linked to the Sample source post so I checked you out. Very, very classy of you to refer to your audience (the people who give your page the hits that keep your ass paid) as “assholes and idiots”. Look in the mirror, herb.


  • http://AOL Lendaman

    I dont even know why I waste time with you morons anyway.You are a bunch of individuals who say Biggie is the greatest of all time. I mean Big is sick with the lyrics however you cant judge a person on only two albums. Big nicer than KRS, Koool G Rap, Kane before he fell off Rakim Big is very colorful but only two albims. Then I dont understand why it would shock me that you idiots would down Ghost. He is the last of a dying breed. Just because he aint tryin to make the girls shake their ass on the floor you gotta say hes whack. Then I hear mother fuckers say Camron got a shot against Jay Z. He got a shot alright a shot dead in his ass. Diplomats are the greatest ABC rhymers of all time. Their lyrics are trash. My list of the greatest of all time.
    1 Rakim
    2 Nas
    3 Jay Z
    4 KRS
    5 Eminem
    These are the greatest LYRICISTS of all time Please know the difference between lyricist and Hip Hop artist. Lyricist means the lyrics are second to none, hip Hop artist is the whole package stage presence, the whole nine I dont consider album sales a factor because its not our people who buy the albums and the people who do would label Vanilla Ice as the greatest

  • Big O

    Yeah big len, smoke em down, these dumb ass clowns dont know shit about Ghost, my man has vision and is mad creative, done deal.

  • unothename

    You are wrong here to be negative about Fishscale. I don’t know the sales figures but I bet Supreme Clientele was his best selling CD and it was also his least commercially accesible. I also think Fishscale is better than the Pretty Toney Album and competes with IronMan. I didn’t think so at first but after repeated listens it is actually a very solid album. The problem with hip hop these days is everyone is assuming you need to reach out to the mainstream with R&B singles and commerical crap. Ghostface needs to appeal to the underground heads – the Doom fans and the same crowd who buys the Gorillaz etc. Yeah, I said it – “Backpackers” and “White Boys”. In the long run, sales will come around.

  • fuck da south (xcept luda)

    practically everything solo that wu-tang has put out hasnt sold especially recently but tru hip-hop heads kno wu-tang is undoubtedly in the top 3 rap groups of all time and arguably the best ever everybody is listening to garbage south rap rite now so of course nothing wu-tang will sell if ghost wants to sell he needs to get on the lean wit it, rock wit it remix lmfao

  • Mozeek789

    I’m not going to put his albums in a top five list, because anything Ghost
    does is tight. And this is coming from a hip hop junkie since ’88.

  • Shysun

    I love fishscales!!That shit is fire!So WTF are you talking about man???

  • http://gospoony.blogspot.com/ 701

    ummm…yeah…Fishscale owns your soul

  • C Knight

    Well we love Ghost down South

  • 11KAP


  • http://I 501 Soldier

    He failed cause da souf is KING

  • C-$$$

    WOW Lendamen that list is straight bullshit…. how you gonna put Eminem up there and not Big L?! What? Jay-Z before GZA? You gotta be kidding me rite?

  • DJ Roc-One

    First off It Goes

    1. Iron Man
    2. Supreme Clientele
    3. Fishscale
    4. Bulletproof Wallets
    5. The Pretty Tony Album


    As Far As The Greatest Rappers Of All Time

    1. Biggie
    2. Tupac
    3. Big Pun
    4. Jay-Z
    5. Nas

    But Its Very Hard With People Like

    One Be Lo (My Fav) Cassidy Eminem Guru And ETC

    All An Opinion Too

  • trae bizzo

    Just stop ranking hip hop you don’t listen to it anyway. Maybe geffen records will put out a curt cobain Hole double cd for you. Lol

  • DJ Roc-One

    My B Id Have To Change The Order

    1. Iron Man
    2. Supreme Clientele
    3. Fishscale
    4. The Pretty Tony Album
    5. Bulletproof Wallets



    I Know So Much Hip-Hop It Will Make Ur Fing Head Spin And Ill Even Go Farther and Say Music In General.

    Get At Me


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    damn damn damn!!!!!!!

  • Bravo

    Yo, I been a Ghost fan since the beginning and I actually liked Bullet Proof Wallets. Ghost is so under-appreciated by the mainstream it’s embarrassing to hip-hop. It’s not his fault these kids today like to listen to bullshit. Hip-Hop today is like junk food, but every Ghost album is chalked full of vitamins and minerals. Now if the older generation of Hip-Hop fans could teach these kids to eat they fuckin vegetables Ghost would sell like he’s supposed to, which is platinum +. I’ve copped every Ghost album except More Fish (some more than once), and I’ll continue to do so until he says to hell with the blatant disrespect he continually receives from soundscan.

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