n 1999, Ghostface Killah saved Wu-Tang with Supreme Clientele, an album so deep and so wonderful that it was easily the best Wu-Tang solo CD to date, beating even the GZA’s Liquid Swords and one of my favorite rap albums ever, RZA as Bobby Digital. With songs with banging beats and awesome but confusing lyrics such as Wu-Banga 101, Buck 50, and One, Ghostface hit it where it hurt Wu-Tang fans. It was just so, so good he could never top it. Or could he?
Bulletproof Wallets can only be looked at in three ways. First off, if you aren’t a rap fan, you might still like this album. It is soulful and banging at the same time, and is probably the best rap album of the year. However, the saddest thing is, the album isn’t even as good as it could be, and not just due to potential.
If you actually buy Bulletproof Wallets, the first thing you notice is that the cover promises appearances from Slick Rick and the RZA. On the back of the CD cover, the first song is called “The Sun, featuring Slick Rick and the RZA! But it’s not on the CD. Weird. And the worst part? After downloading the song, I realized the Sun would have been the second best track on the album. It’s incredible. Ghost, RZA, and Slick Rick rhyming about, what else? The Sun. It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my short life, but, get this, it got cut because of sample clearance.
Notice how I said “second best track” on the album. The would be best track, “The Watch”, also got cut from the album. The Watch, featuring a well-used Barry White sample, features Ghostface barking back at his watch, played by Raekwon, who is criticizing him and saying he’s worse than Jay-Z, DMX, etc.. and it’s damn good, too. Not only is the beat awesome, but Ghost totally rips it. But, the Watch didn’t make the album, because of none other than sample clearance. It’s a travesty.
Even without those two tracks, Bulletproof Wallets is still a damn fine album. After a pretty funny introduction, my favorite track on the album, “Maxine” begins. Maxine is a great track telling a story back and forth between Raekwon and Ghostface, that features some funny rhymes and some pretty serious lessons. The next song, “Flowers”, features Method Man and Superb, is a pretty good song with a little boring beat, but some good rhymes. After that, the first single, “Never Be the Same Again”, featuring Raekwon and Carl Thomas is a sappy love story, but who could have thought that Ghost would pull it off? Wu-Tang fans, is who.
After the strong first 3 songs, the CD still stays strong. “Ghost Showers”, featuring a sample from the same song “Cherchez La Ghost” was sampled from, is kind of a blatant attempt at a club-banger, but still features good lyrics. That’s the best thing about Ghostface Killah, he doesn’t skimp on lyrics, even for songs that belong in a club atmosphere. Later on, “Walking Through the Darkness” has Ghost crooning like he’s known for, and the second best track that made it, “The Forest”. Produced by The Alchemist (who makes nothing but damn good music), the Forest has Ghost rapping about fairy tale and cartoon characters, and what they’d be like in real life, including, but not limited to, crack dealers and users, murderers, and rapists. The beat is what can only be described as bananas, and the rhymes are, as usual good.
I could go on forever about Bulletproof Wallets, and maybe I will. The songs that follow the Forest, specifically “The Juks”, “The Hilton”, and “Strawberry” and all bangers. It would almost be a waste of space to describe these songs, because they aren’t as good as the songs that went before. They are still damn, damn fine songs, and the whole album is full of them. There are no bad songs on the album.
If the last half of the album was as strong as the first, this album would be perfect. If the Sun and the Watch were on the album, it would also be perfect. However, since they aren’t the album is only near perfect. To me, a Wu-Tang fan, the CD is 9.5 out of 10. To a casual rap fan, it’s at least 8.5, maybe even the 9.5 that I would give it. For a fan of soul music, or any just plain good music, this album is at least worth a few listens, because it’s just that damn good. Better than Supreme Clientele, in my opinion. Better than any other Wu-Tang solo CD, and the best rap release this year, just as good as Jay-Z’s magnum opus, “The Blueprint”. Listen to it, buy it.. support Ghostface, because all he does is just make good albums in this day and age of poor music.
Reviewed by: Brett Berliner
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01