The Lost Tapes is the latest offering of classic 90’s New York-styled hip-hop from arguably the best member of the Wu-Tang Clan. It’s fantastic.
A collaboration with a producer named Big Ghost, Lost Tapes sounds less like an artist trying something new, and more like an old legend going for a victory lap. Indeed, many of these tracks hark back to Ghostface’s masterpiece of a record Supreme Clientele, most notably ‘Watch Em Holla’ (which literally samples it). Not that that’s a bad thing. None of these songs would have felt out of place had they been released in Ghostface’s so-called peak period from 1996-2006.
Which is not to say that we’re dealing with a glorified B-sides record, either. There are some noticeable differences from past records; the rapid-fire flow is gone, and while his style is still distinct and instantly recognisable, it seems that age has slowed him down. Moreover, the intense storytelling of Fishscale and the aesthetic abstractions of Supreme Clientele are gone, only to be replaced with lyrics which, while generally ‘good’ and at least beating out the guest verses on the album, are really nothing special.
Regardless of opinions of Ghostface’s verses, one cannot deny how great Big Ghost’s beats are. Right from the opener, ‘Buckingham Palace,’ the intense grandiosity of Supreme Clientele finds itself at the forefront once again. But it soon peels back and we find a subtler, melody-driven style across tracks like ‘Cold Crush’ and ‘Saigon Velour.’ It is over these tracks where Ghostface demonstrates his classic style in its purest, and best, form. Some may see the music as a step down from earlier records, and indeed you’ll find nothing like ‘Mighty Healthy,’ or ‘Shakey Dog’ on this record, but it is still undeniably a great album.
To wrap up, I should mention Ghostface has claimed he must either move forward musically, or at the very least create an album that is good enough to stand above its contemporaries. If anyone’s wondering, he chose the second option.