As this is one of the first albums of 2000 I got to review I hope its an indication on what hip hop has in store. What does that mean?, well this album proves the Wu still can bring the muthafucking ruckus. Over the last 2 years we’ve been inundated with disappointments and delays from the Wu and even I had had enough by the time we reached Raekwons poor ‘Immobilarity’, this restored my faith in the Wu. No Introductions needed, Ironman is back with a sophomore album that almost lives up to its predecessor, not even the GZA could get this close.
It seems Ghostface hasn’t changed much since his solo debut on ‘Ironman’, and that’s what has made this album a success, early indications with ‘Mighty Deadly’ and ‘Apollo Kids’ suggested there was a different sound emerging but as a whole entity this album is a nice continuation of the his debut. ‘Cher Chez La Ghost’ is probably the most abstract track on here that doesn’t identify with the Wu-ness but that doesn’t mean its bad, just different. Its hard to distinguish the good from bad on here, maybe after constant listening I’ll discover I am bored of this track or that track but for now I’m content with the whole thing. If you want a taster of highlights then read on.
The Wu are always present on each other's albums, although it used to happen a lot more we get 2 great treats on ‘Supreme Clientele’. The great ‘Buck 50’ is just amazing, I really can’t stop playing this one, it stands out as one of the albums many highlights and is full of that raw dark energy missing from the Wu sound over the past few albums, nothing has even come close to matching this. Ghostface is helped out by Cappadonna, Method Man and the only Non Wu member to rip it up since Nas did on ‘Verbal Intercourse’, that’s the funk docta spock Redman. The other track ‘Wu Banga 101’ is again more reminiscent of something that would have stood out on ‘Liquid Swords’ or ‘Cuban linx,’ GZA, Cappadonna and Raekwon help out with the verses and is that Masta Killah without his talking flow? Yes he's actually listening to the beat.
I really gotta comment on the production here as it is a return to form, where there have been cheap and nasty beats or just plain mediocrity from the Wu lately, ‘Supreme Clientele’ is all about quality. RZA has done a good job, showing that he really hasn’t lost his touch, while elsewhere Mathematics and Tru Master aid the proceedings. One of the standout contributions from outside the Wu camp comes from the Beatnuts JuJu on the current single ‘One’ and it fits right in. ‘Stroke of death’ sees Ghostface hitting a new sound again, it seems awkward at first but then you realize how good it actually is. You’ll also find familiarity with a lot of the beats, I mean ‘Stay True’ for instance was used for the Inspektah Deck album on a track called ‘Elevation’ (But that’s nothing as this is a short track) and ‘Saturday night’ uses the same loop as ‘The mayor’ that Pharoah Monch laid sound for his Soundbombing 2 excursion. Elsewhere you may find the odd loop or beat you recognize but those thick orchestral soundscapes have returned and dominate the album on tracks like ‘We made it’ and the layered intro that is ‘Nutmeg’.
Ghost is constantly criticized for his lyrics because they seem to make no sense, well yeah a lot of it is thrown together but with his flow it seems to make sense in just sounding fucking good, this is because of his extraordinary mic presence and passion for delivering fire in his verses. Listening harder though its just that Ghost is talking in a way which is like his mind flying in all different directions, hardly staying on the same subject for more than 2 lines, there’s no rules to hip hop so who has their say on what he can and can’t talk about and in what way? So what is Ghostface’s secret for breaking the sophomore jinx and a line of inconsistency and bad quality from the Wu? Who knows let’s just enjoy the music and hope this is the shape of things to come.