Ghostface Killah Shaolin's Finest

Shaolin’s Finest adopts an egalitarian approach to the career of one of Wu-Tang’s upper echelon MCs, Ghostface Killah, by splitting its focus more or less evenly between his three LPs to date. Kicking off with the elastic, hard-driving bass line of "Daytona 500,” the chronological journey begins with classic gems from his stunning RZA-produced debut, Ironman, and follows with choice cuts from 2000’s Supreme Clientele and 2001’s Bulletproof Wallets. Whereas other Wu members tended to balk at the RZA’s relative absence following their debuts, Ghostface Killah proved he was more than capable of holding his own. Despite the revolving roster of producers over the years, Shaolin’s Finest is a remarkably cohesive collection that highlights the rapper’s consistently sharp, often vulgar, rhymes and vivid depictions of gritty urban sorrow. In retrospect, while his distinctive delivery has always been impressive, it’s a shame that Ghost has yet to reproduce the lyrical sensitivity and bravery shown on his 1996 duet with Mary J. Blige, the endearing ode to his mother, "All That I Got Is You.” (Epic)