It's starting to seem like Ghost doesn't actually know how weird he is. In interviews, he never talks about pushing hip-hop or expanding its boundaries. Nowhere has the Wu-Tang member resorted to ten-minute jams or genre-hopping excursions. If you take away the stark beats and abstractness of the lyrics (both of which have been copied so much by this point that they are hardly deviant), his records tend to resemble, well, hip-hop records. You know, the regular kind that's released every week. Yet the man couldn't make a commercial cut if his career depended on it, something he's proven time and time again ("Cherchez La Ghost" and "Run" are both excellent, though hardly "Hot in Herre"). When Andre 3000 and Cee-Lo turn their backs on pure hip-hop, they do so in the name of originality. But there is no emcee that makes his crusade less urgent than Ghostface.
Despite the title, More Fish isn't exactly that: With all the guest appearances and sideline tracks mixed in with the B-sides from Fishscale, this is more in the tradition of the Theodore Unit LP than a new Ghostface record. But like 718, More Fish is worthy of the company it shares in Ghost's catalog. Strange and solid, only a few tracks fall short, and while the Kanye-West-featured remix of "Back Like That" is totally unnecessary, "Pokerface" is the only total disappointment. Juvenile and amateur, the song celebrates poker but comes across as the worst kind of novelty song. Once you get past it, though, the record is smooth sailing, particularly the second half. There's an excellent remix of future R&B star Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good," a top-notch Doom beat on "Alex (Stolen Script)" and Hi-Tek's "Josephine," thankfully included here so there's no need to buy the producer's disappointing release.
If More Fish isn't as good as Fishscale -- and there's just as good a chance that it is as good -- it's the tapestry method that doesn't make for a cohesive listen. But any unknowing listener would be hard-pressed to point out the record's B-side pedigree, and that's the biggest accomplishment here. Not that it's surprising that Ghost could put out two records this good in a year, since he's essentially done it twice before (Supreme Clientele and The W, Pretty Toney and 718). But that he is able to do it without pomp and over-inflated ambition makes it all the more impressive. Though Ghostface's music would never be called simple, his basic goal -- to make the best hip-hop record he can -- is what drives his talents. That he is able to achieve that goal so frequently is all the separation from conventional hip-hop he needs.
Label: http://www.defjam.com/Audio: http://www.myspace.com/ghostface