East Coast hip hop music has gone through a heavy slump in the past few years; while its Southern counterparts have experienced a major boom in terms of sales and radio play.
While many, more commercial artists have fallen victim of copying "what’s hot" for the sake of sales, Wu Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah has remained true to what has made him one of hip hop’s most consistent MCs. On his latest offering, Fish Scale, Ghost deviates from his known formula of delivering lyrics that require a translator for the average listener for a more direct flow. He also made the move from having RZA do the bulk of his production to having some of the best underground production available. Pete Rock, MF Doom, Just Blaze, the late J Dilla, and others all helped build the soundscapes for this album.
The entire Wu Tang Clan (including ODB) appears on "Milli Bros." The result may remind some fans of older Wu efforts like "Protect Ya Neck," even though it doesn’t contain that classic Wu Tang aggression.
The lead off single, "Back Like That" feat. Ne-Yo, while nothing spectacular, is good enough to garner a response from the 106 & Park crowd. But what might be the highlight of the album is the Just Blaze produced flamethrower, "The Champ." The song fittingly draws a great deal of inspiration from the movie Rocky III, and Ghost’s delivery may have set off sprinklers in the building; it is that hot. Another high point was "Whip You With A Strap". Although short, The J Dilla produced track reintroduces fans to the introspective side Ghost introduced on "All That I Got Is You", and is a breath of fresh air with its story of parental discipline.
I only have two problems with this disc: first, there are far too many skits on this album. They almost get in the way, but thankfully don’t kill the flow or the mood of the album. The funniest one involving Ghost giving a young lady directions to Heart Street.
Second is the inclusion of a posthumous Notorious B.I.G. song that sounds far too commercial for the rest of the album. Even as a bonus track, it shouldn’t have been included on the album. Long story short: while the East coast may be struggling now, few more quality releases like Fish Scale may even up the odds in the battle for hip hop supremacy.