Review Summary: The best album you've never heard by the best artist you've never heard of.
The Crossroads of Life is not Indie, it is not underground, it's just…a secret. Released April 8th 2003, you have probably never heard of this album or The Black Ghost. The Black Ghost's specific origins are unknown, but he is clearly from the south as he gives shouts to cities and states from the dirty south in ‘Gutter Dumpin’. He makes consistent references to Oklahoma and Arkansas. But it is possible he is referring to the Dallas district Oak Cliff in the song 'Oak Cliff streets'. Either way, he is very little known. I hope this review serves as a rightfully-deserved introduction to The Black Ghost.
The Black Ghost sports a diverse array of songs - a freestyle, an action story rap, a life story rap, a smoke song, a club hit, a dance song for the ladies, some R&B joints, and of course the regular raps. This is a positive characteristic of the album, because there is no repetitiveness of style whatsoever.
All of the songs on the album are quite enjoyable, the two best being ‘Ghetto Comic All-Stars’ and ‘The Crossroads of Life’. Ghetto Comic All-Stars is a brilliant, hilarious freestyle over a cartoony beat. The Black Ghost links comic book characters and movie characters together to make one big hysterical story. An example: “Next thing ya know/Everybody hit tha floo’/He-man came through bustin’ with a chrome fo’ fo’/See He-man and Shela, you know they related/When Superman found out he had some X-rated/Tapes of his sister that didn’t sit well/He got the word Freeze from when they was locked up in jail.” The Black Ghost has quite a mind, he references everybody from G.I. Joe and Cobra to Inspector Gadget to Darth Vader to Spiderman in this epic freestyle. In ‘The Crossroads of Life’ tells the bittersweet story of his life and life in general. He talks about how he grew up fatherless and how he grew to be a rapper. In these two songs, T.B.G proves to be quite deep intellectually, as he showcases in other songs.
The Black Ghost uses beats most rappers would not touch or would consider table scraps. They could be compared to those that DJ Quik used when he was just starting out in terms of sound quality and simplicity. But his instrumentals are actually a refreshing change of pace. Most of the instrumentals on the album have synths, tribal drums, and kicks. But some instrumentals are abstract and sport oddities such as woodwinds. Overall, the production on The Crossroads of Life is refreshing and enjoyable.
T.B.G’s technical skills are pretty good. His flow is quite spectacular at times – as he showcases in Gutter Dumpin’ and the outro –and he can spit multisyllabics well. He sounds inspired and rarely sounds lazy. His voice lands pleasantly on the ears Considering auto-tune was not as big in rap in 2003 as it is today and this album was not high budget, you get a clear idea of what The Black Ghost is capable of in true form.
There are so many positive aspects to The Black Ghost’s (apparently) only album. The Crossroads of Life is a must-have for all rap fans. Whether you are from the third coast, the west coast, the midwest, or the east coast: The Crossroads of Life would be a great addition to your album collection.