Words By David D.
As Valentine’s Day roars closer, I get reminded of one of the reasons why Ghostface is my absolute favorite rapper. While many turn to Al Green or Barry White for music to capture the emotions of the season, I turn to Pretty Toney to help me sort out any feelings I have about the opposite sex. From heartache and anger to commitment and raw passion, Ghostface’s love songs have run the gamut of emotion while exposing a vulnerability and honesty not commonly found in hip-hop.
Almost every Ghost album has a relationship song with a generic beat and R&B flavor of the month. This creates a library of Starks songs playable while wifey is in the whip. Also, the lyrics found between the sappy hooks are as creative and brutally personal as one will find from a genre of music in which the artists are hell-bent on being impenetrable tough-guy archetypes.
Ghost is not afraid to say things on wax that most of us are afraid to even utter out loud. On “Never Be the Same Again” (yes, the beat and Carl Thomas made the song tough to listen toâ€¦but Ghost’s verses were keeper), he asked the most painful question to enter a man’s subconscious at his most insecure:
“Maybe he came up with the right dough/ bigger dick I don’t knowâ€¦this thing here, every man in the world goes through/ but fuck that I put a lot of money up I’m hatin!”
He also captures the sheer irrationality found in a post-break up argument. You know some things that you just say in the heat of the moment that sound ridiculous when taken out of context- Starks puts it on wax. Just look at the quotables from “Back Like That”:
“My girl cousins, they gon’ rock you!”
“Let me get that rock off ya finger/Oh it’s stuck? Well give me the whole finger then.”
Sometimes merely expressing heartbreak isn’t enough for Ghost and he has to curse a chick out. The most famous of these songs is “Wildflower” from the first classic, Ironman. Obviously, some lady incurred Ghost Deni’s wrath and he let her have it in my all-time favorite angry ex song. This is definitely not one to ride around listening to with the lady:
“You crab bitch, chickenhead hoe, eatin heros
I’m the first nigga that had you watchin flicks by deniro
You gained crazy points, baby, just bein with god
Taught you how to eat the right foods, fast, and don’t eat lard
I gave you earth lessons, I came to you as a blessin
You didn’t do the knowledge what the God was manifestin
You sneaky fuck bitch, your ways and actions told it all
I fucked you while you was bleedin, held you down in malls
Sexually you worshipped my di-dick like a cross
I had you fiend out, broke out, for a month you fell off ”
But no worries. It is the Season of Love and Ghostface applies the same honesty and vulnerability towards positive relationships that he does to heartbreaking ones. On songs like “Beauty Jackson” from Fishscale, the speaker takes off his cool and falls just short of gawking at the beautiful woman at the bus stop. “Child’s Play” from Supreme Clientele details all the longing that comes with a grade school crush.
For centuries, male poets have (gasp) dealt with the idea that they were subjugating women by using them merely as objects. For example, a couple hundred years ago, Wordsworth (the poet, not the Lyricist Lounge graduate) was criticized for using women figures in his poetry as merely vehicles for the poet to express his own angst, essentially stripping these women of any personality or usefulness of their own. Ghostface’s most triumphant quality is his ability to create female characters that have their own depth and motivations, not just devious creatures or subservient helpers to substantiate the rapper’s angst or be a trophy labeling him as successful. The females in Ghost’s songs are fully fleshed out women with their own emotional registers. This is as much a liberating quality for female listeners as the most didactic of “equal rights” songs.
Just look at “Save Me Dear” in which the female, Kim, is an emotional pillar that literally saves his life. While Ghostface is at his emotionally weakest states, Kim remained strong preventing him from committing suicide. By the time the song is over, one gets the feeling that this woman is Ghost’s rock in a give and take relationship.
When it’s time to get busy, though, Ghostface is not at all hesitant to break his lady off and share each detail of the act. When it’s time to strip away all the emotional baggage and handle business in the bed (or wherever), songs like “Strawberry” and “Last Night” will definitely take you to those moments.
Whether you’re bitter, crushing, gettin freaky or content in your relationship, Ghostface has the song for you to relate to during this Valentine’s season.