The album cover of Staten Island’s mc Ghostface Killah ninth studio offering Apollo Kids features a purple composition notebook emblazoned with the universally recognizable Wu-Tang Clan symbol. The nod is appropriate considering Apollo Kids reverts to what made the influential nine-man faction iconic, jarring and often disjointed lyricism with heavy R&B soul sampling. Ghostface has always been one of the few standouts on the Wu since it’s formation in the early 90s, with an erratic stream-of-consciousness flow and an obsessive focus on lavish lifestyles. When figurehead RZA famously described the group of consisting of “Five different Michael Jacksons”, Ghostface was their version of the epic decadence of HisTory era Mike.
Apollo Kids adopts the sonic formula of Ghostface’s last few albums and sticks to it faithfully. The opener “Purified Thoughts” featuring Killah Priest and GZA has ominous vocals throughout and grim storytelling. Swirling Spanish influenced electric guitars of “Black Tequila” and the curious sampling of English pop duo Tears for Fears’ “Shout” on “Starkology” take the record to its more interesting moments.
The lead single “2getha Baby” benefits from tight production from Yakub and sounds like it would be right at home on Ghostface’s 2000 breakthrough Supreme Clientele. “She look like she get it from her mama/That’s right Michelle, I’m your Obama” is as silly as a line can get, but is almost endearing coming from Ghost. “In tha Park” featuring The Roots mc Black Thought is an excellent shot of nostalgia celebrating the origin of Hip-Hop stemming from cyphers near park benches and basketball courts.
Apollo Kids suffers the most from it’s lack of firepower in production personnel. Aside from Pete Rock on “How You Like Me Baby”, there aren’t any notable beatmakers. Perhaps the biggest detriment are the lack of risks taken instrumentally, Ghostface is one of the more exciting rappers in the game and the producers don’t take the advantage of experimenting with different sounds. With appearances from principal members like Cappadonna and Method Man, devotees of the Wu will love Apollo Kids. However everyone else will struggle wondering what separates this from the rest of Tony Starks’ back catalog. Known for releasing music at a fairly consistent pace, Ghostface should take his time for better results on the next record.
Apollo Kids receives a PA
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