With the exception of ODB, Ghostface is without a doubt the most charismatic member of the Wu. Between his confusion-inducing "slanguage," hyper-dramatic flow, and bugged-out fashion sense (an affinity for rocking bathrobes, dinner-plate-sized medallions, and a gigantic gold eagle bracelet), he definitely earns style points by the dozens. As far as his albums go, he's also the most consistent. 1996's Ironman is an undisputed classic, and last year marked his triumphant return with Supreme Clientele, an exceptional record that single-handedly resurrected the Clan's slumping street cred. On his third solo LP, Ghost retains his ultra-unique approach, while dropping a few radio-ready tunes as well.
RZA returns behind the boards, lending his production prowess to several tracks, including the frantic drug-deal-gone-wrong tale "Maxine" and the catchy, guitar-fueled "Walking Through the Darkness" with Tekitha. Ghost kicks into full storytelling mode on "The Hilton," a soulful but hectic joint with Raekwon detailing the duo's efforts to dispose of a body. The Alchemist contributes two heaters, "The Juks," which encourages listeners to "pop your collars" in true Bay fashion, and "The Forest," a delightfully demented number detailing the criminalistic exploits of assorted cartoon characters. Not afraid of showing his sensitive side, Pretty Tone also veers into R&B territory on "Love Sessions" and the current single "Never Be the Same Again" with Carl Thomas.
While some heads may be put off by his more commercial-minded selections, as well as the disappearance of several heavily hyped jams ("The Sun," "Good Times," "The Watch"), Bulletproof Wallets still delivers badass beats and super-stylized rhyme schemes that could only come from Tony Starks. If the forthcoming Clan LP (Iron Flag, due December 18th) is anywhere close to this caliber, we could soon be witnessing a Wu-Tang renaissance.