The Pretty Toney Album
label: def jam
production: the rza, true master, minnesota, no id, ghostface, k-def, digga, nottz, others.
guest: sheek louch, styles p., missy elliott, jackie-o, jadakiss, musiq, k-fox, trife.
year of release: 2004
1. Intro
2. Biscuits feat. Trife
3. Konta Fly Shit
4. Beat The Clock
5. Mental Lungies feat. Sheek Louch, Styles P.
6. Bathtub (Skit)
7. Save Me Dear
8. It's Over
9. Keisha's House (Skit)
10. Tush feat. Missy Elliott
11. Last Night (Skit)
12. Holla
13. Ghostface
14. Be This Way
15. The Letter (Skit)
16. Tooken Back feat. Jackie-O
17. Run feat. Jadakiss
18. Love feat. Musiq, K. Fox
"2004 will be all about Ghostface", so Cryptic One (Atoms Family) predicted in our 2003 retrospect (check that here). Kimani of Third Earth Music / Roosevelt Franklin proclaimed that "Ghostface will save the game". People like Rob Swift (X-Ecutioners) and Mr. Lawson picked "Run" as one of the best songs of 2003. And overall, Ghostface - just on the strength - reached the third spot in the 'best emcees' category.
The hopes, expectations, predictions and acclaim leading up to the release of this album were enormous.
Ghostface looks like a participant of a Slick Rick lookalike contest on the cover. But he also looks like a man rocking a mic. And on several songs he attacks that task with a range from the rap equivalent to standing in front of the mirror and practicing the 'are you lookin' at me?' to the flipping and telling clever tales. Hence there's "Biscuits" with Trife and a nice beat with a piano and horns. And a chorus going: "fuck around, take all your shit / call your bluff, y'all faggots don't want no beef / grind your teeth, and just, roll with it, don't risk it / fuck around, and be a statistic". There's an even better and quicker beat on "Beat The Clock" and the words: "this is how I'ma kill 'em with four lines left / hold your breath, say my name five times it's take's practice, yo / decap' him with sayin' my name, it's like matches, yo / it's time to fuck up on account in a house, or blow".
The energy on these songs resemble the previously mentioned "Run" that features Jadakiss and takes a hint from "Made You Look" and "99 Problems" to just be hard and unforgiving. It urges you to run, until the "Timb's start feelin' like they Nike Air's" as Jadakiss says. His D-Block P.I.C.'s both appear on "Metal Lungies", over a beat straight from the Golden Age, done by Chicago's connoisseur producer No I.D. This is raw, straight and what rap must be, with Sheek promising that "my shit's powerful enough to lift a fuckin' donkey". The next connoisseur producer appears on "It's Over". He's K-Def (you know, of Real Live, etc. fame). But he falls quite short with his keyboardy fake version of an old Wu style and even cannibalizes the beautiful music source. Ghostface reports from the war rattled zone. More than just an embedded reporter, he's actually part of the life and strife. So again on the conscious Black CNN beginning for "Be This Way", which turns into a rep report though: "no trick, we take from silly rabbits, yo feed them lead carrots / the little mans'll connect and they touch that fabric / the only thing that can stop 'em is that Teflon fat shit / maybe artillery's heavy like a bunch of fat chicks".
He does more repping on "Ghostface" over a minimalist beat that leaves him enough room to go "please, get these wack records off of me / I can't breath, asthma pump so I could stop the wheeze / it's like they love garbage, for God's sake, I'm the real artist / hear they songs, dumb niggas fathers / under my wing like Sanford & Son / weird sons, I'm a big gun, like Big Pun, Big L and Jason". There's more of that on "Holla" (along with a couple of conscious lines like "we don't need no diamonds rings / all we need is a drum, like 'fuck it, he can rhyme, I'll sing'") where he growls "never say my name again, you pussy / like an angry, crippled man, don't push me". And while it's quite excellent how he fades into the chorus of the song, he still actually rhymes over the singing. And that's just not right.
Here just like on "Last Night", Ghostface flows over a lot of dope samples (or as said, even barely changed songs). Heck, he so evidentially shows how much better rap still sounds over a sample. As simple many beats are produced, they still sound better than too much material that's out there. Nevertheless, some of the treatment lacks the charm of a Soul Supreme or MF Doom offering. They know what to do to samples. And to get back to "Holla": listening to the last seven lines, and the bridge he flows over, we're fiending for a song with just that break.
Moving on though, we get a couple of love songs, like "Save My Dear", with lady love lyrics and Ghostface's world, romance is when he says: "I'ma sell my guns, and with the cash I'ma bring you to Vegas". It gets nasty on the good commercial single - complete with catchy beat and hook - "Tush" featuring Missy. Ghostface says "oh yeah, you jinglin' baby" and Missy answers "well let me jump up on that ding-a-ling baby". And teaming up with Jackie-O, Ghostface does "Tooken Back". He reminisces "'member the first time you made my key / you was drunk, you went behind a tree and peed / I miss shit like that", while Jackie advertises herself "now you got me in the kitchen, with your fryin' on / tell me that you gon' move with me, I know you lyin', dog / who loves you baby? Nobody like Jacki-O / cook, clean, break up your weed, and I give you nasty throat / what you actin' for? Get back in the door / come on, home, where you belong, let's get it on". This past love gone bad is still too good, and so both try to convince the other to be taken back.
A different love is talked about on "Love". One of the two songs that reminds us of that bone marrow despair whining and conscious lyricism Ghostface used to do; the other is "Kunta Fly Shit". "Love" is the sermon of gratitude at the end of the record. As Ghostface has many things to be thankful for and entities to love, amongst 'em God, because "he let me see passed 32 / plus what he gave Wu / a chance to change music just listen, you and I know the truth".
Speaking of 'truth': nothing ever lives up to the hype. Nothing. Nothing includes this album. Of course this record is good. And we do hope that by showing how good samples sound, by giving us pure rawness, by giving us clever words, it will get others to remember the true essence of rap again. Time will tell. And don't be surprised if Ghostface is doing even better in this years 'retrospect'.
review: tadah
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