Maybe I'm biased because I'm a Staten Islander (and have worked with the Theodore Units cats in the past), but after hearing Ghostface's new LP in full last night, I think The Big Dough Rehab is one of the strongest albums to be released this year. But what makes it so great is not just Ghost continuing- a la U-God- to give you it raw like cocaine straight from Bolivia, but the nearly flawless set of beats that he picked (or his A&R, or Jay-Z, or his manager Michael Caruso, or Trife, or who the fuck knows) to back his stellar rhyme flows.

Now I thought Freeway's Free At Last was the high point of the year for production, more so than the over-hyped creativity behind the musical elements backing Jay's American Gangster, but I think Ghostface may have one upped both of them. Now i'm not going to go and bootleg my man Stark's shit, so just click the link to his album up top and take a listen for yourself. Joints like "Yolanda's House," , "Shakey Dog starring Lolita," "White Linen Affair," "Walk Around, and "Yap City" are standouts in my opinion. The producers on these joints- Ant Live; Frequency; Anthony Acid; and Scram Jones, respectively- all did a great job providing thick backdrops for ghost to get his lyrical nut off. That's not to necessarily single just those guys out, everyone who did a track on this project did their thing. I can't say there are any beats that strike me or just come out of left field as being totally unexpected or wack. No random club songs following some heartfelt track about Ghost's mother or no shit like that (Thank God!).

I don't know if it's that Def Jam is leaving these artists to do their thing on their own, or that they've resigned themselves to the idea that huge superstar status for rappers isn't all that attainable anymore, but both Freeway's project and Ghostface's sound remarkable in comparison to the records that have been released in recent years. I remember thinking of East Coast rap and just expecting a bunch of braggadocio mixtape rap over nonsensical keyboard beats or some horrible sped up soul sampling crapola. Not that I'd ever really expect that from Ghostface, but just saying. Def Jam needs to keep this little streak going. Let's see if that Beanie Sigel/R Kelly collabo does him more justice than if he had he just dropped a whole album full of hardcore rhymes over dope beats (like the good old days of East Coast rap). But you remember what happened when Ghost did a joint with Missy, right? And a joint with Neyo? Hot records indeed, but didn't make a mark on his core fan base and didn't do shit for him outside of that.

Cheers to all the artists with good beat selection. Wish there were more of you out there.