Ghostface Killah, 'Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City' (Def Jam)

Critical Mass
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by Jon Dolan

It's a cold, hard world and a Ghostface Killah needs a Ghostface girl -- the kind who'll wear a nurse costume when you get back from a long night at the studio, rock the foxy librarian look on a lazy Sunday, who'll kill for you and die with you, write to you in Rikers and call you on your bullshit, take long walks and communicate in parks.

Billed as an R&B record, The Wizard of Poetry does explore gushy emotions -- from endless devotion ("You're like a fingerprint, I'll never find a match like you," he raps over a soulful sample on "Do Over") to parenting (on "Baby," he grabs his preggers lady some Popeye's chicken on the way home from a night out). Even the raw stuff has the humanizing detail that keeps Ghost interesting years after we've grown accustomed to his imagesplaying Joycean flow (on "Stapleton Sex," he casually admits that diabetes makes it difficult for him to get it up).

Always the rigorous amoralist, Ghost isn't the type to elevate an exploration of his love jones to an examination of hip-hop misogyny; he doesn't have to. Any dude who brags about kissing his lady's feet while she watches Dreamgirls, or promises his Pocahontas that she'll never have to tuck in her gut, is truly a man among bitches.

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