Ghostface Killah Fishscale

Is there anyone in hip-hop as consistent as Ghostface Killah? He’s like the Tony Gwynn of rap, having released nary a dud in the decade since his 1996 debut Ironman. But now it looks like Ghost’s unblemished career may have its defining moment: Fishscale. The 35-year-old MC’s fifth LP, is a tour-de-force; a hungry, inspired statement of purpose. Lyrically or musically, Ghost has never sounded this good. He sharpens his already formidable storytelling abilities to a deadly point by absolutely revelling in the details: the tartar sauce on his S Dot kicks; Beauty Jackson’s Revlon face blush and the Larry King Live on his TV. He mostly ditches the surrealist bent of Supreme Clientele for cracked-knuckle, red-eyed realism. After all, there’s enough tall tales on the Top 40 for Ghost, who dedicates more than a few tracks to documenting the horrors of the drug trade not often mentioned by his younger contemporaries. Then there’s the Dilla-produced standout "Whip You With A Strap,” a nostalgic stroll over the childhood cuts and welts from his mama’s buckle. Though RZA didn’t contribute a single beat to the album, production is uniformly excellent. Heavyweights like Pete Rock, Just Blaze and MF Doom provide soul-soaked soundscapes to match Ghost’s renewed and re-upped energy and intensity. Fishscale is honest, it’s gritty and it’s massive. (Def Jam)