Review Summary: The first chink in Ironman’s armor.
After the relative dry spell in Wu solo albums following Wu-Tang Forever,
the Wu’s superhero Ironman saved the day with Supreme Clientele
which was a return to form for the Clan and seemed like a rebirth for the once can’t-miss crew. Unfortunately, Bulletproof Wallets
is not on par with either of Ghost’s first two albums and because of sample clearance issues and troubles with his record label (once again screwing up the track listing) this album is a major drop-off in the quality that we had come to expect from Ghostface.
Even with his trusty clansmate Raekwon riding shotgun for Bulletproof Wallets
it still doesn’t make this a good album especially with Raekwon’s uninspired lyricism. “Maxine” starts off the album with Ghost spinning a violent drug tale over some horns provided by RZA with Raekwon spitting a verse that ends with “James jumped on Moon, poked him with a screw driver, broke the TV niggas watching Knight Rider,”
what""" Then on the corny first single “Never Be the Same Again” he drops this line: “You think that I'm the biggest bird in America, catch me on TV, I'm come back, never the…”
Thankfully his appearance on “The Hilton” is much better, backed by a Jackson 5 sample courtesy of outstanding yet extremely underrated producer Carlos "6 July" Broady.
Too much time is given to ancillary Wu-Tang rappers Superb, Trife and Killa Sin who simply are not on the level of the actual Clan members and hit-or-miss RZA disciple, producer Mathematics. “Strawberry” is one of the “hits” from Mathematics with it’s subtle horns and vocal samples but “Theodore” is a major miss with its cheap sounding keyboard twinkles that is further ruined by Ghost’s awful hook, no to mention verses by Trife and Twiz. Although Ghost deserves some credit for the imaginative “The Forest,” a drug story with cartoon characters, it’s just not very good with weak beat by the Alchemist who also provides an underwhelming backdrop for “The Juks” where Ghost seems like the guest alongside Superb and Trife. RZA’s contributions are very good if unspectacular but his production shines on “Walking Through the Darkness” a mid-tempo beat accented by Tekitha’s soft, beautiful vocals.
There are several bad tracks on Bulletproof Wallets
(as well as some awful skits) but the biggest problem is what’s NOT on this album, namely “The Sun” feat. RZA, Raekwon and Slick Rick! It IS on the track listing but due to sample clearances it didn’t make the album which is a shame because it would’ve been the best track on here. Also not making the cut were “The Watch” and “Good Times” once again due to sample clearances, Ghost accused his record label of not wanting to come up with the cash to clear those samples and subsequently this was his last album for Epic.
Maybe because I expected so much from Ghostface after Supreme Clientele
I was thoroughly disappointed by Bulletproof Wallets
but even after repeated listening it left me out in the cold and his sex tales on “Strawberry” are flat-out boring. If Supreme Clientele
made me think that the Wu was back, Bulletproof Wallets
took me back to the days after Wu-Tang Forever
where solo albums by Wu members became increasingly irrelevant.
Walking Through the Darkness
4. Never Be the Same Again
5. Teddy (skit)
7. Ghost Showers
9. The Forest
10. The Juks
11. Walking Through the Darkness
12. Jealousy (skit)
13. The Hilton
14. Ice (interlude)
15. Love Session
16. Street Chemistry