Top Albums of The Decade #15

Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000)

The time span between the release of Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) up to and including the first round of solo albums was an incredibly prolific time for the Wu-Tang Clan. Solo joints by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekown, GZA and Ghostface Killah all reached dizzying heights of critical and commercial success. Things started going slightly downhill from there though, beginning with the overly-long double-disc Wu-Tang Forever.

There are several factors for this. One, for better or for worse the Clan has now evolved from a hardcore rap crew from Staten Island, New York into a bloated commerce unit. If you have the CD copy of Wu-Tang Forever you’ll remember the card inserts for Wu-Wear hoodies, T-shirts and a truckload of other merchandise. The back of the CD booklet even had 1-800 numbers for every member of the Clan (ODB’s was 900-26-DIRTY, Method Man’s was 900-HIT-METH and one was simply called ‘DATELINE’, number 900-267-LOVE). Frankly it got a bit out of hand.

Two, RZA was increasingly delegating his production tasks to his protégés. While respectable, you can’t ape RZA in the studio even if you were sitting right beside him. And that kind of took the shine away from the sophomore round of solo albums, most of which paled in comparison to those from the first.

Ghostface Killah, while not always the best lyricist in the Clan (my money’s on GZA), somehow managed to even trump his previous release Ironman with Supreme Clientele. Despite being one of the Clan’s more physically imposing members, Ghost has always rapped in a voice a tad too whiny for the way he looks, worse when he sings his lines. There is however always a sense of urgency and anxiety in his delivery that rubs off on you, even when he raps about the most mundane of things (from ‘Child’s Play’ – “Jellies, Bubble Yum, soda tongue, too young to cum / Then engage him with them candy rings / Eh yo, I hit that shit, got jealous when she kissed Rob / I broke her Chick-O-Sticks”).

The beats on Supreme Clientele aren’t too bad either. But of course, the best ones for me are RZA’s. There’re only four of them but he brought back some of the grime and rawness which went largely missing on Wu-Tang Forever. Check out ‘Stroke Of Death’. He couldn’t even be bothered to loop the beat through a sampler and resorted to just pulling the record back, and back, and back.

Supreme Clientele gave the waning Wu-Tang dynasty a much needed revitalization and served as a timely reminder, for themselves and for their fans, that at the end of the day the Wu-Tang Clan still ain’t nuthing ta fuck wit’.

‘Stroke Of Death’

‘Childs Play’

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