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Ghostface's 'Big Doe' Does Not Disappoint

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Ghostface Killah
The Big Doe Rehab
Def Jam
December 4, 2007

"No time...there's never any time," cried a caffeine pill crazed Jesse Spano in that very special episode of "Saved by the Bell." Ghostface Killah laughs at you and your complaints, Spano.

While you can't find the time to balance a geometry midterm, getting into Stanford and covering Pointer Sister tunes, Pretty Toney is having no trouble finding time to spit sick verses on 8 Diagrams, tour across the country with the Rhythm Roots All-Stars, write a book, record the title track of the Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story soundtrack alongside Lyle Lovett, Jewel and Jackson Browne, sell memorabilia on eBay, be scammed on eBay and oh yeah...drop one of the hottest hip hop albums of the year - The Big Doe Rehab, which hit shelves today.

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Back in October, the busy emcee also found some time to chat with the press prior to hitting the stage at House of Blues. Ghostface explained back then, that Big Doe was a throwback to his earlier work, "This album is on some Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx type shit."

After just one listen to his latest, I knew exactly what Ghost was talking about, which is a rarity because most of the time I have no fucking clue what he is talking about.

Like Cuban Linx, the latest from the Shaolin representative has a very big cinematic feel to it. Heavy on soul grooves, strings and mafioso swagger like Rae's mid-90s classic, Rehab takes you back to the Wu golden era.

One of the most obvious differences between Rehab and Cuban Linx is the Rza's role, or lack there of. The Wu leader must have been too busy working on 8 Diagrams or showing off his tattoo on the big screen alongside Russel Crowe to provide a beat or two to this project. The majority of the production duties comes from LV and Sean C., collectively known as the Hitmen. As they did with Ghost's other boss, Def Jam CEO Jay-Z on American Gangster, the Hitmen's blaring horn samples breath new life into Ghost's flows.

This is most evident on the lead single "Celebrate" which features a sample of Rare Earth's "I Just Want to Celebrate" on the hook. This is as good a radio banger as Ghost has ever given us, it's just too bad radio isn't playing it. On "Celebrate" Ghost is unusually happy (I guess that's what happens when you pull off all that he has accomplished this year). Best known for his gritty narratives, it's refreshing to see the Wally Kingpin enjoying himself for a change.

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Don't worry though, there's plenty of signature Starks attitude on Big Doe.

You want some Ghostface coke laced flows? Try some "Toney Sigel a.k.a. Barrel Brothers." Heavy on braggadocio and drug traffic references, 'Brothers is one of the album's highlights. Labelmate Beanie Sigel, Styles P and Solomon Childs are featured on this banger.

Toney Sigel a.k.a. Barrel Brothers

If you enjoy Starkey Love's fascination with the female form than "Killa Lipstick" will invoke thoughts of "Camay" and "Beauty Jackson."

If you like your Ghost slightly emo, "Slow Down," which features the beautiful voice of Chrisette Michele might be to your liking.

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The standout track of the album is "Yolanda's House," featuring fellow Wu members Method Man and Raekwon. The three Wu superstars absolutely rip this infectious Ant-Live produced beat with some good old fashion misogyny. The same men who gave us "Ice Cream" know their way around a bitch and/or a ho better than anyone. This time around Yolanda feels the sting of these Killer Bees.

As great as Big Doe is, the album does have it's flaws. "White Linen (Toney Awards)" paints the picture of an award show going on in Ghost's head which sounds like it would be a good time if it were an actual event but doesn't make for much of a song. Also, Toney should have stayed away from Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Superman Lover" on the track "Super GFK," Redman's work using this sample more than a decade ago remains a tough act to follow.

Ghostface has quietly carved out his place in history as a solo artist. Fishcale, which he admitted was "for the backpackers," solidified Ghost's legacy as it took home critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, who each had the album in their top 5 of 2006.

The Big Doe Rehab could very well find itself on those same lists this year. While they may not be damn near the top as it's predecessor was a year ago, it definitely deserves recognition as one of the best hip hop albums of '07.

I'm sure there's time in Jesse Spano's schedule to catch Ghostface Killah and the Wu-Tang Clan at the House of Blues, December 23. She's not nearly as busy as she used to be.