Tony Starks likes two things, or so it seems according to the subject matter of his rhymes: bitches and blow. Abandoning the latter for a whole record (seriously), he dedicates his trademark crazed flow entirely to the fairer sex with mixed results. Not completely a club-oriented record, The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City dons a multi-faceted mantle of sentimentality, jealousy, and sorrow; this emotional gamut really doesn't click in certain situations (namely the off-target affair that is "Baby"), but there are some incredibly catchy moments here. When the record was initially announced as Ghostface's foray into R&B, it was greeted with disdain and an overall air of negativity - and while fears of 90s radio-soul surmounted, this reaction is largely unwarranted with modern production standards and a collection of excellent featured vocalists. "Not Your Average Girl" and "Do Over" kick things off brilliantly with catchy hooks from Shareefa and Raheem DeVaughn, respectively. Quickly setting Ghost's intended tone amidst updated, soul-laden beats, this one-two punch unfortunately sets the bar quite high for the remainder. Follow-up "Baby" was seemingly written for an audience of peers and not a younger crowd with sappy generalizations for parents to be. As is typical of Mr. Starks, each and every track is mired in the misogynist musings of a man that loves "running trains" and "threesomes every other weekend"; "Stapleton Sex" runs these assertions to a head in what could possibly be a recording of the Wizard actually fornicating. TMI Ghostface, TMI.
Ghostdeini is at his absolute best on the more modern iterations on the radio soul/rap formula, especially on the John Legend assisted "Let's Stop Playing" and a killer trio of album closers. The crooning tenor of Lloyd over a clinic on funk in "Goner" stands out with a particularly absorbing chorus; as a good measuring stick, many ladies in this household have been caught recently with their heads bobbing. Interestingly enough, the two closing bonus tracks are some of the best - Ne-yo and Kanye collabo "Back Like That" may be familiar to some, and the heavily dynamic, autotune-tastic "She's a Killah" brings a unique spin to your typical club tune.
While difficult to expect another killer Wu joint immediately following the brilliant Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt II, The Wizard of Poetry is definitely enjoyable even if it is sporadic in its appeal. It's hard not to inflate the rating of a record with some truly incredible joints, yet it's difficult to ignore the two-thirds filler combined with Ghostface's least complicated rhymes in years. Nice try Tony, but let's shoot for a Supreme Clientele II next time around.
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