Ghostface Killah, Bulletproof Wallets (2001)
Bulletproof Wallets, the third album by Wu-Tang member and verbal portraitist Ghostface Killah, sounds like a sequel to last year’s Supreme Clientele. The irrepressible Iron Man has carbon-copied a successful formula, in this case one of last year’s best rap albums, a rare compromise between underground linguistics and mainstream ethos. But where Supreme Clientele flowed with bizarre non-sequiturs and Ghost’s fractured slanguage, Bulletproof Wallets bumbles along with an uneven collection of street epics and would-be party anthems. “Ghost Showers” mimics his breakthrough single from last year, “Cherchez LaGhost,” all the way down to the classic disco loop and signifying female. R&B singer Carl Thomas croons urban pop for him on “Never Be the Same Again.” Ghost wants to be president of the hip-hop nation; he’s sick of motherfuckers biting Wu-Tang Clan’s myriad styles and innovations. “Niggas don’t understand we started all that Cristal, all that Wallabee shit,” he vents on the intro. Absent throughout is Supreme Clientele’s sheer irrationality. Perhaps stung by criticism that his ravioli-sized rhymes were too rich for consumption, Ghost has jettisoned the made-up words and preposterous imagery. Lunkhead braggadocio and criminal histrionics are all that remain. “My Rolls be Liberace/And my bedroom is off the hook all day/Designed by Versace,” he boasts on “Ghost Showers.” It’s all quite fabulous, especially for a man who reveals on “Forest” that his wonderland consists of Daffy Duck, Kermit, and other cartoon characters fornicating, doing drugs, and killing each other. But those for who marveled at Supreme Clientele’s abstractions, Bulletproof Wallets might sound disappointingly mundane. In interviews, Ghostface Killah complained that his label, Epic Records, botched the release by omitting several songs due to sample clearance issues. Those missing tracks, including “The Sun,” “The Watch,” and others are widely available on the internet.