November 25, 2007

Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele (January 25, 2000)



In lieu of my usual rambling introductory paragraphs to introduce Ghostface Killah's second album, Supreme Clientele, I'm opting instead to transcribe a conversation I had last weekend at the club, with an interesting gentleman whose conversation, oddly, matched exactly the topic of the blog I was about to write.

I'm not sure why this is important, but I feel the need to advise my two readers that this gentleman was dressed in the reddest suit I have ever seen.

I was keeping my drink company on the couches while my wife proceeded to have increasingly loud conversations with friends that couldn't hear her anyway over the soul-pounding New Wave that pumped through the sound system. The gentleman in question sat catty-corner, nursing a cigarette that wasn't actually lit (he thought I didn't notice, but I'm sharp when I need to be). He noted that I was being introverted, listening to Depeche Mode's "Behind The Wheel", and decided that interrupting my listening and people-watching experience would be the best way to make an impression.

Conveniently, he jumped right into the dialogue, as if it were already in progress.

"At a party in Staten Island, I met a fascinating artist, Dennis Coles. He told me he was working on his second album, and was worried about the response he would receive. It seems that, while his first album was well-liked by everyone, except for some guy with a blog that mentioned the work was lazy and unfocused, his crew of like-minded rappers had hit a serious roadblock in their creative process, and it showed in the criticisms of their work. Specifically, his closest comrade in the clan, Corey Woods, had also released a sophomore disc, one that was trashed royally by everyone, including, oddly, their mothers. Dennis was terrified that his career would go by the wayside, and needed reassurance."

I noted that it was amazing that I could hear him tell his story with such clarity in a loud club, especially with Ladytron's "Destroy Everything You Touch" blaring out of the speaker right next to my seat. I asked him to continue.

"Mr. Coles seemed like a shy individual with obvious talent for storytelling, and I liked the cut of his jib, whatever that means, I just always wanted to use that in a conversation, you know? Anyway, I wanted him to know that there would be nothing to worry about, but as is my tradition, I wanted to cut him a deal."

I suppose the funny look on my face prompted him to add, defensively, "No, no, I didn't take his soul. Not sure why, now that I think about it. But I guess I was in a good mood that evening, and the Long Island Iced Teas had my mind twisted. I asked young Dennis exactly what it was that he was concerned about.

"Dennis said, 'I want to make sure that my career isn't destroyed with the ravages of time. I don't want to sound conceited, but I think I have talent, and I don't want it to go to waste.' He waited a couple of moments, then softly added, 'I'm sick of Method Man getting all the shine in the clan. I want his spot.' I looked him dead in the eye and told him, if you're interested, I can guarantee the following for you. You, Dennis Coles, will be the most consistently successful artist in your immediate crew. Your songs will receive almost universal praise, and your career will span several more albums, some high-profile guest spots, a book deal, guest spots on a sitcom a young lady named Tina Fey will create in a few years, and a line of designer bathrobes with your signature touch. While the rest of the group will have to do battle with their past lives to ensure their careers will stand the test of a fickle and increasingly-critical listening audience, you will just be yourself, and the acclaim will come in by the buckets. And, to aid you with your immediate concern, your second disc will be widely heralded as the best sophomore disc by your nine-member clan. I can also make sure that Gary Grice's second album, widely known as one of the best rap albums of all time, will actually be considered his first album, since he was foolish enough to release an album before forming an allegiance to your group.

"Dennis looked at me with a puzzled look, not unlike the one you have right now. 'What's the catch?', he asked. I told him, I'm the type of guy that is straight with his clients; I don't like to bullshit with people in need. For starters, I will ensure that the leader of your clan will play a big part in your second album, in an executive-producer capacity, which is something that he will not do for any other sophomore album, save for his own, of course. However, your relationship with him will become strained after this disc, and his input will be severely limited as you slowly cut ties with him altogether, possibly due to some monetary issues, I don't know, I haven't figured that out yet.

"Dennis glared at me and said, 'That sounds reasonable'. I then explained that this wasn't all.

"I told Mr. Coles that, while he would find his career flooded with acclaim, his sales would suffer with each subsequent release. His record labels (I had predicted that he would be moved to another major within two years) will force him to make songs for the female audience, in a bid for radio airplay, which he won't receive anyway, except for possibly in New York. There will be severe problems with the issue of sample clearance, and most of his battles would be lost, thus affecting his artistic vision significantly. And finally, your overall success will ultimately result in the disbanding of your core crew, due to your own issues with their company that come to public light. Is that something you feel you could accept?

"Dennis nodded his head without hesitation, but then asked, 'Is there something that can be done with the tracklistings on my albums always being incorrect?' I told him I was sorry, that would be a continuing problem, especially on his sophomore disc, with which the listener would be advised to throw the liner notes away and come to his or her own conclusions. That was beyond my control, but he should wait a few years, and it would work itself out."

I found that the ice cubes in my drink had suddenly blended with the whiskey and Coke with alarming speed, rendering the beverage useless (and terrible tasting). My new friend in the red suit seemed to be emanating heat, but the look on his face was as cool as a polar bear sipping a milkshake in a snowstorm.

"I'm not sure why I told you that story just now, especially since we're in a club that just played Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division back to back, but I saw you across the room and thought that you, out of everyone else here, would appreciate it for some reason."

He then rose and turned to leave.

"Hey, wait," I said. I just needed to know. "Did you have anything to do with U-God getting a second solo album?"

The man in the red suit smiled, teeth gleaming in the darkness, and said, "There are some things even I don't have a hand in." Then he walked back into the crowd, leaving me to ponder if I should dance with my wife to New Order's "Ceremony", or take advantage of the two dollar wells.

1. INTRO
Taken from the Iron Man cartoon series. This will be a recurring theme.


2. NUTMEG (FEAT THE RZA)
Not a bad way to start. The Rza didn't actually produce this song, but executive-produced the entire album, which in layman's terms means that Robert Digital had his digits in every single track on the album.


3. ONE
Juju (of The Beatnuts) provides a great backdrop for a fantastic nonsensical Ghostface rap.


4. SATURDAY NITE
This track sounds good, but is really short, so I'll take this time to mention that, in the liner notes, track number four is supposed to be "In The Rain", a song that died in the sample wars, although it's not hard to find on the Interweb.


5. GHOST DEINI (FEAT SUPERB)
A version of this song, where Ghost and Superb rhymed over the Ruthless Bastards's "Bastards" beat, was also never cleared, although that's probably due to the Bastards having released their song first. G-Unit coffee retriever and all-around jackass Antonio Yayo has claimed that Superb is actually the brains behind Supreme Clientele's lyrics; his reasoning is that Ghost's lyrics, essentially, made sense before this sophomore effort. Ghost's best man at his wedding Chef Raekwon has proven otherwise (which wasn't hard, since Superb sounds terrible on this song, and has been in jail since, apparently, right after the release of this album), and has extended an invitation to Yayo to suck on his left nut. Surprisingly, Yayo has since shut the fuck up; maybe there's some truth to the fact that the Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with. (Edit: Funnily enough, soon after I published this post, Ghostface actually responded to Yayo's bullshit claims; if you haven't read the interview on multiple other blogs, here's the link.)


6. APOLLO KIDS (FEAT RAEKWON)
The first single I remember seeing a video for. Ghost and Rae tear the shit out of a Hassan instrumental. I remember that my wife, back when she was my girlfriend, bought the 12-inch single of "Apollo Kids" as a random gift for me one day, without me ever having mentioned this song to her. Of course, I married her; everyone should have someone like that in their life.


7. THE GRAIN (FEAT THE RZA)
The first song that the casual listener will chance upon that isn't listed anywhere in the liner notes. Ghost and Rza rhyme over a traditional breakbeat, on a track that probably started the trend of Ghostface rhyming over breakbeats in a pinch. As a song, it sounds incomplete, but as two guys from the Wu rhyming, it sounds good.


8. BUCK 50 (FEAT METHOD MAN, CAPPADONNA, & REDMAN)
Fucking awesome. Rza brings a pounding beat for our ears, and Ghostface and Meth rhyme their asses off. Cappadonna, however, left all of his skills in his gypsy cab (which was still running outside), and almost ruins the song with his nonsensical tales involving Betty Crocker and her assorted weaponry, until Reggie Noble yanks him out of the booth and provides the funniest verse on the album. The line "Your weed [has] got more seeds than O.D.B." still kills me to this day. Once again, fucking awesome.


9. MIGHTY HEALTHY
Also pretty fucking awesome. Most Wu-Tang fans have already heard this masterpiece. For everyone else, snap out of Candy Land, kids, and seek it out.


10. WOODROW THE BASEHEAD
An unnecessarily long skit, one that wears out its welcome rather quickly.


11. STAY TRUE (FEAT 60 SECOND ASSASSIN)
This song is known in the liner as "Deck's Beat", which is a hilariously uncreative title for a song that features Ghostface jacking the beat from Inspectah Deck's "Elevation". At least Deck receives the production credit. Ghost would go on to jack many more beats throughout his still-evolving career.


12. WE MADE IT (FEAT SUPERB)
I never really cared for this song. I will say, though, that the liner notes only list Superb as the guest, but there are other people that didn't receive credit for being on here, the most important of which (relatively speaking) is Sunz of Man's Hell Razah.


13. STROKE OF DEATH (FEAT SOLOMON CHILDS & THE RZA)
Chris Rock once wrote that "Stroke Of Death", with its annoying backward-looped beat, was so ghetto, it made you want to stab your babysitter. Everyone I know hates this song more than they hate the current administration, specifically because Rza gave Ghost a beat that was seemingly designed to make your mind start bleeding. I don't know, I liked it back then, and I still do.


14. IRON'S THEME - INTERMISSION
...

15. MALCOLM
This song has a good message, but I can't get past how fucking boring it sounds.


16. WHO WOULD YOU FUCK?
Ghostface, don't know if you got the memo, but skits are supposed to be short, unless your birth name is Paul Huston.


17. CHILD'S PLAY
Rza's final beat of Supreme Clientele is a good one, especially with the switch-up midway through, but when you read the title of the song, some of Ghost's lyrics are kind of disturbing...


18. CHERCHEZ LA GHOST (FEAT MADAME MAJESTIC & U-GOD)
What the fuck? I always thought this song sucked, but not because of U-God, although his presence doesn't aid matters any. This was the first Ghostface track that was made specifically for radio airplay, even though I couldn't imagine what the response would be if someone were foolish enough to play this in the club.


19. WU-BANGA 101 (FEAT GZA/GENIUS, RAEKWON, CAPPADONNA, & MASTA KILLA)
Great song, and I appreciate any excuse to find a spot for Gza/Genius on a Wu solo disc. However, in the battle of the Wu collaborative efforts, this song pales in comparison to the monster "Buck 50".


20. CLYDE SMITH
Another bizarre skit. There are conflicting reports as to whose voice is actually distorted here, Rae's or Ghost's, but I trend toward the Chef, due to the vocal inflections. This skit is most notable as being the one where Rae (on behalf of Ghost) disses the shit out of Curtis Jackson, which is probably why Yayo said his aforementioned comments. However, why did it take Yayo seven fucking years to respond?


21. IRON'S THEME - CONCLUSION
And we're out.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Ghostface Killah takes the title of "Best Wu-Tang Solo Artist" with Supreme Clientele, the best sophomore effort from any of the original nine members. It's a title that he is in no danger of relinquishing, given the consistent quality of his recent work. He's just on fucking fire here, and I'm sure Rza's involvement helped in a small fashion. Inadvertently, Ghost also contributed to a unique listening experience for his listeners; since the tracklisting was completely fucking wrong, you were forced to listen to the album from start to finish, instead of skipping to the singles you knew and waiting until later for the rest, simply because you had no idea where your favorites fell in the sequence. I know that it wasn't intentional, but it worked; it's a ploy that would have been a risky gamble, had Supreme Clientele sucked ass. Ghost needn't have worried.

BUY OR BURN? Buy this shit. If you consider yourself a fan of the Wu and the only copy of Supreme Clientele is the one you burned off of the Interweb, then you are an asshole.

BEST TRACKS: "Buck 50"; "Wu Banga 101"; "Mighty Healthy"; "Apollo Kids"; "One"; "Nutmeg"; "Child's Play"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Ghostface Killah - Ironman

28 comments:

  1. I wonder if the man in the red suit promised Mr Coles such longevity that his 2007 solo album would outshine the 2007 wu-tang album itself?

    Great intro max, you served one of the great wu albums justice with a great write-up. One of my favourites is 'child's play', i like the subtle scratches of 'Long red' throughout (the one kanye always uses). I reckon 'stroke of death' is just as good as any of the other awesome tracks on this album. On 'buck 50', is there any meaning behind the backwards supercalifragiyou-know-what-i'm-talking-about or is it just another dope Ghost line?

    If you were to make a list of the best hip hop albums this millenium, how close to number 1 would this album fall?

    p.s. thanks for the outkast 'benz or beemer' recommendation that song was dope!

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  2. i know it isn't the best solo album from a wu-tang member, but it's definitely my favourite one. from start to finish without a skip, and without a doubt - i can bump this lp ALWAYS

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  3. best review i read of you so far Max , great stuff !
    almost pissed myself when you asked about u god getting a second album !
    Brilliant analysis of the ghost and wu career situation mate !

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  4. What? No Pop Will Eat Itself in the club?

    Mighty Healthy and One may be the two best songs that came out in the Year 2000.

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  5. This album is so good that never in my life have I heard a live person, standing in front of me, tell me it was wack.

    Here's a true story...I was taking my girlfriend at the time to Myrtle Beach a few years ago and was bringing a ring to propose to her...I knew I had to hide it well or she'd find it. I chose to conceal it in a cd case because I'd be messing with the music on the trip. Thing was I couldn't just hide it in any cd case...this was something big. I had to pick a special album. Supreme Clientele was that chosen case.

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  6. "especially since we're in a club that just played Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division back to back" only you man.
    Also, I literally laughed til I could not breath when he rhymed on 30 Rock. I'mma go check this out again. It dropped at an off time for me.
    You get a chane to listen to that other thing yet? Not bad!

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  7. Not yet, but I'm still looking forward to it.

    zlatko, hopefully your romantic intentions ended on a positive note. I couldn't bring myself to do that with my wife, but I was able to include instrumentals from Lovage and Dr. Octagon on the CD we played during our reception, since she actually picked them out.

    smac: just another dope-ass Ghost line, albeit one that sounds both ridiculous and great at once.

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  8. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessDecember 03, 2007

    Tony Starks takes you inside his mind and world on his albums, no mean feat when you're primarily flowing in jibberish. I also enjoy the backward beat on "Stroke of Death", Max. It took me a few listenings but it has actually become one of my favorite Rza beats. The lyrics to Child's Play would still be disturbing if it was titled "Ghostface Does Not Find Little Girls Attractive". "One" and "Mighty Healthy" battle in my head daily for the title of the greatest collection of random words ever thrown together. Everyone should hunt down the mp3 of the Ghostface interview when he talks about his zone when he was making "One". He also talks about getting into a shootout while riding around with the Stylistics. It is filled with magical moments. One other recommendation would be Oh Word's review/analysis of that Basehead skit.

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  9. Ha, dope read. In the imdb of blog posts i'd have to call you out on an anachronism for this though: "his first album was well-liked by everyone, except for some guy with a blog that mentioned the work was lazy and unfocused". Even for the devil, that's a little too hip for the room in 2000 - nevermind in 97 when Ghost's debut popped off.. Unless the blogger was Dave Winer....

    But good stuff. Oh and as an aside, contrary to popular opinion 8th Diagram >>>>> Big Doe Rehab.

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  10. Rafi, thanks for the comments. I was actually talking about my own blog post, where I said that Ironman was worth a burn and nothing more. But I wrote that blog a while ago, so it's not a big deal. It probably would have made more sense if I linked up the original post, but oh well.

    And in regard to the Kenna comments, I understand your statement, but I disagree; the 'consumers' shouldn't be sheep that only listen to the radio, they should actively seek out new and interesting material. The industry insiders may have inadvertantly ruined kenna's career, but if consumers actually paid attention to what was presented to them, instead of only liking things because they're on the Billboard Hot 100 or because their favorite shitty radio station plays the shit out of Gorilla Zoe's "Hood N---a" (for example) so they think it must be a good song, then this wouldn't be a problem for artists that deserve some shine.

    Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment anywhere else on the blog; I appreciate reading every comment that I get.

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  11. Took me a long ass time to get into this album. I didn't really understand what Ghost was saying at first. Sometimes I thought he was a lyrical genius, other times I thought he was just speaking gibberish. However, after a lot of listens I finally realized this is awesome. Also, I can't decide if this or Ironman is better.

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  12. AnonymousJune 30, 2009

    hey man, i really enjoy reading your reviews and thoughs. i have one quick question to pose to you although.

    between GFK's Bulletproof Wallets, Supreme Clientele, and Ironman albums - which one should i pick up? im not new to the wu, so thats not a facor.

    thanks a lot. ill continue to be a fan of your page.

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  13. anonymous, go buy this album, just get ur ass up that chair and buy, dont u dare download it!

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  14. AnonymousJuly 24, 2009

    this album is what made me put GFK as my Fav MCs, great fucking review man!!

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  15. i think Ironman is better than Supreme Clientele

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  16. Honestly I think this album's shit, I'd rather listen to Fishcale or Ironman over this any day, and I initially thought Ironman was dull but it grew on me, whereas this is just infinitely boring, aside from Mighty Healthy.

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  17. I loved the intro to the review, for real.
    I'm still letting this album grow on me. Ghost is amazing, especially on this album, but I can't help but wonder what it would have been over a full album of RZA beats.

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  18. This is a great album but it takes time to love it. I remember when I first bought it in 2003, I hated it and left it on the top shelf for about 3 years, until one of my friends came over and saw the album. He told me it was one of his favorites, and I gave it to him. I wondered why he praised it so much, so then I listened to it again. Still hated it.

    Then, there was a debate between me and my girlfriend on which album was better, Supreme Clientele or Ironman. She preferred Supreme Clientele. I said girl you're crazy, but then she made me listen to it again. This time, I listened to it deeply, read the lyrics on internet, made some research and all... and I loved it.

    Today, this album sits on my "favorite albums" shelf. This is Ghostface's best album. No doubt about it.

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    Replies
    1. lol how weak-minded you are

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  19. Best album ever. STROKE OF DEATH is my favorite song next to NUTMEG which is the most listened to by me song ever.

    "Dancin' with Blanche and them bitchez."

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    1. xD 2 of the worst songs on the album

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  20. Nice job, Max. Your review is one of the things that made me buy this album, even though it aint no cheap shit for a vietnamese highschool dude like me.
    BTW, you're such a lucky asshole for having your wife a Wu mammy

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  21. AnonymousMay 19, 2013

    Actually, rza did produce the entire album -- he sequenced it, mixed it, produced the guest appearances and stuff. He just didn't make all the beats.

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  22. AnonymousJune 25, 2013

    i too, hate Stroke of Death more than the current administration

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  25. yes this album was good. It had some bad tracks though: the butchered version of Ghostdeini, The Grain, Nutmeg, and the horrific pos that is Stroke of Death.

    I'm not a huge GFK fan though, so I never understood the mass nuthiggung.

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