J-Love and Ghostface Killah | Hidden Darts 2 | This one preceded Ghost’s 2004 CD The Pretty Toney Album (Def Jam), which further distanced the Wu-Tang rapper from Clan producer RZA’s paranoid knobwork in favor of party-pleaser soul sampling like the Delfonics-cribbed “Holla.” It didn’t feature any Wu-Tang guests either, which was too bad: the RZA-produced “Run” is the best cut on the album, and in general the rambling jokester Ghost does better when he has his straight men, especially Raekwon. Hidden Darts 2 situates Pretty Toney’s best cuts among more straightforward Shaolin fare (including “Motherless Child” and RZA’s “Fast Cars”), and it includes three really big tracks (“Drummer,” “New Splash,” and “Gorilla Hood”) that were left off the proper release. In that context, Pretty Toney seems less a lights-grabbing departure and more a detour into Ghost’s more sentimental side, which J-Love’s carefully balanced tracklist brings out.
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