Ghostface Killah, Apollo Kids
Official release date: December 21, 2010
The verdict: On the face of it, Apollo Kids — Ghostface Killah’s ninth studio album and his eighth in the last ten years — looks like a contractually obligated mail-in: questionable cover art, no lead single, nonexistent promotion, a relatively scant run time, and a whole grip of guest rappers helping to minimize Ghost’s overall workload. This, of course, is a drag. Other than last year’s R&B experiment Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City and the odds-and-ends collection More Fish, every one of Ghost’s albums deserves a place in the responsible hip-hop fan’s music library, and the thought that the dude has stopped trying as hard as he always previously had does not engender warm feelings. But the situation, it turns out, is not all that serious.
And that’s because, as always, Ghostface still really can’t open his mouth without saying something entertaining. This is the early front-runner for favorite line-chunk: “Got bitches in mi casa boiling fresh lobsters / But I don’t do the shellfish, Im’ma just eat pasta / turkey, Italian sausage, chopped-up kielbasa / doing hits from home like an elite mobster / love my onions diced up real little.” Elsewhere: effective-to-inspired soul-sampling beats; ad-libs in which Ghostface makes fun of people’s clothing; a snippet or two of Tears for Fears’ “Shout”; and the Game using the phrase “I get my Rachael Ray on.” It won’t rank up there with his best, yeah, but Ghost would need to try much harder than this to make a crappy album.