Ghostface Killah

More Fish (Def Jam)

Ghostface Killah didn't wait long to offer up more of the raw material following the critical and creative success of this year's Fishscale. More Fish is actually closer to a mixtape than a proper album, showcasing the skills of Ghost's Theodore Unit crew, previously given its due on 2004's 718. But MCs like Shawn Wigs, Sun God, and even Trife da God all pale in comparison to Papa Starks. The record plays like a collection of loose ends, although it's still better than 95 percent of hip hop released this year. Yes, recycled beats abound — MF Doom re-gifts an old MF Grimm track for “Gunz N' Razors,” and “Ghost Is Back” finds the Ironman fast-rapping over Eric B's classic “Juice” production. Also, the remix of Fishscale's “Back Like That” features a Kanye West verse you may have heard before, reusing his “freestyle” from the recent Smashtime Radio mixtape. But the shit is still too ill, as Madlib lends a muffled symphony bed to Ghost's urgent rhymes on “Block Rock” and Amy Winehouse's sultry vocals enhance the bitter love ballad “You Know I'm No Good.” The real pleasure is still Ghost the storyteller, as exemplified by the vivid “Alex” and the deliberately paced “Blue Armor” — “I'm a fisherman, I own this lake/ When I catch fish, I fry 'em till they backs all flake.” This excellent collection proves that even Ghost's throwaways can constitute a great album, as this senior member of the Wu-Tang Clan continues to improve year after year. — Jonah Flicker

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