Back in October, Ghostface Killah released a statement proclaiming Apollo Kids to be a "warm-up to the big thing that's gonna happen next." Both the platform (a blunted twitvid) and the "big thing" reference (likely the follow-up to Cuban Linx II, with partner-in-crime Raekwon) are shaky at best, but one thing can be ascertained from the smoked-out message: if Apollo Kids is a "warm-up," we can expect monster things from Ghost in the New Year.
Here we're accorded 40 minutes of relentless spit assuring us that the Legendary Ghost Deini is, in fact, not dead — a necessary statement following 2009's middling venture into full-on Rap&B. Sure, his more sensual offerings can be a welcome respite amid the unflinching tales of project lore. But an entire album's worth of slow jams? Teddy Pendergrass he is not. Mercifully absent are the Raheem DeVaughn features and sexy-time talk, replaced with contributions from like-minded gutter lyricists and "whores with no drawers ready to do all four of us."
Stepping to the plate to vouch for Ghost's reacclimated ruggedness is the standard cast of NY knuckleheads (Sheek Louch, Jim Jones) and Wu fam (Rae, Meth, GZA), with a gritty, tip-of-the-tongue, soul-sampling crash course offered up by a blend of some of the best ever to do it (Pete Rock, Sean C & LV) and promising newcomers (notably Frank Dukes). Never one to be outshone on his own track, Ghost emblazes every beat with a fire that hasn't burned this widespread since 2006's Fishscale. On "How You Like Me Baby," he does seem to ease up on the aforementioned relentless spit, but only to sound as if he were barking at you from a recliner instead of directly in your grill.