I was all psyched when I heard, a few weeks ago, that there was gonna be a new Ghostface album out before the end of the year. Ghostface himself announced it, on Twitter, which he's apparently on, and we can be reasonably confident that that was Ghostface himself, and not some middle aged Jewish woman from Def Jam toying with our emotions, because this is motherfucking Ghostface we're talking about here, and this is 2010. If Ghost himself didn't announce via Twitter that Apollo Kids is set to drop December 14th, there's a distinct possibility that no one would have. It would have just shown up in stores that day, all of a sudden. Who else here is old enough and sorry enough to remember that day back in the late '90s when you went to the mall(!) to cop (the mad underrated) The Pillage by Cappadonna, and there were like three other random Wu-related albums that came out either that day or within weeks of one another? The sad thing is, some of that shit probably still sold better than half of the rap albums out right now.

A few weeks went by, then the album cover and the tracklisting for Apollo Kids hit the Internets, and it finally occurred to me what's going on here: tax write-off season is upon us. Def Jam needs to drop some albums that aren't gonna sell very well, to make it seem, through accounting trickery, as if they didn't make any money in 2K10, and therefore they shouldn't have to pay anything in taxes, thus shifting the tax burden onto brothers such as myself, who don't make enough money to buy very many CDs, even if we wanted to. (Perhaps if we didn't have to pay so much, relatively speaking, in taxes.) The reason Apollo Kids seemed to appear all of a sudden, as if it was some shit they just threw together at the last minute, is because it probably is some shit they just threw together at the last minute. It's not because prayer actually works.

Those fucks in the Def Jam building didn't even bother to release the artwork for Apollo Kids on a separate day from the release of the artwork for the new albums by Sheek Larouche a/k/a the Birthday Boy, and Redman, the would-be 11th member of the Wu-Tang Clan. As if. They all seemed to pop up at once, as if they were attachments to the same email - and who knows, maybe they were. They all have the world's shittiest design and graphics, as if Def Jam let go of whoever normally does their artwork, after that Wu Massacre album (to use but one example) caught a brick, and found someone on Craigslist who'd work for half as much money, if that. They may have outsourced that work to India, the same people who handle customer service calls for billing concerns with pr0n websites, I'm assuming. The Ghostface one looks like the world's most half-assed knockoff version of Oh Word's classic parody version of Cam'ron's rhyme book, which was all over the Internets a few years ago.

I scroll down to the tracklisting, and I'm not sure what to think. It's hard to tell what an album's gonna be like just from the names of the songs and the artists featured. The most we can do is try to find examples of songs that looked like the artist didn't put much time and energy into coming up with an original, creative title for them. Real generic-sounding shit like "Superstar" and "Drama" and "Ghetto" and "Troublemakers." Those really are all names of songs from this new Ghostface album, btw, not names I just made up in an effort to come up with really generic titles for rap songs. Another one that stuck out to me is a song called "Handcuffin' Them Hoes" featuring Jim Jones. Without knowing anything else about it, I'm gonna assume that it's a Jim Jones song that Ghostface added verses to, rather than vice versa. Def Jam may have bought it for him, for $200 and six pre-rolled joints in a baggie, in hopes that it might become a hit on a par with "We Fly High." Fat chance! Jim Jones can't even come up with another "We Fly High" for himself.

The fact that it's only 13 tracks long could be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, there's no reason any album, let alone a solid 95% of rap albums, should be longer than 13 songs. But on the other hand, it's de rigeur in rap music to follow the ol' Master P approach of packing as many songs as you can possibly fit onto a 74 minute disc, to appeal to people (southerners) who can't fathom the idea of smaller being better. The fact that an artist decided to release an album that's only 13 tracks long doesn't necessarily mean they opted to err on the side of brevity. It could mean they just didn't want to put in as much work.