When Ghostface Killah likened himself to Ironman in the beginning stages of his career, he probably wasn’t implying that he would outlast his peers of the past, present and future when it came to Hip-Hop’s line of employment. However, here we are—numerous solo and group LPs alongside countless guest appearances—in 2010 with Tony Starks still prospering in the business, thanks to enthusiastic loyalists who lend him an ear whenever he asks to be heard.
Which is why GFK wins by staying in his lane in cruise control on his ninth solo LP, Apollo Kids. Borrowing the name to one his most ceremonious singles may have been slightly misleading in terms of the album’s potency, but even when he’s not exactly razor sharp, his cutting edge persona can still pose as a Ginsu when need be.
Considering that time has a way of rerouting musicians off their original perfected blueprint, Ghostface lifers will rejoice in the auditory solace that Apollo Kids still holds true to a core Tony Starks sound, complete with dusty breakbeats, swanky soul samples and glimmering disco funk jacked right out of a ’70s blaxploitation flick. As soon as the needle drops on the memoriam to the Hip-Hop’s glory days: “In Tha Park,” instant mirages of partygoers consuming intoxicating beverages from Styrofoam cups in long summer nights are manifested as Ghost and Black Thought move the crowd. Vintage standalone’s like “Starkology” and “How You Like Me Baby” also bump like acne with Tony eschewing from playing the young man’s game by hitting the records with flurries of instinctive detail as he’s being doing all these years.
Yet and still, the man with “grays on the side of his waves” shows his age a bit as the album tends to get stagnant on occasion. It is a well archived fact that Wu projects are generally family affairs, but Apollo Kids isn’t exempt from being bogged down by an unnecessary verse or three, thus sacrificing much of its identity from being distinguished from a general rap LP. On the suspense-themed “Drama,” Ghost merely drops a hasty verse before fading to the shadows to allow Joell Ortiz and The Game to dominate the track. Likewise, the dragging “Street Bullies” gets cluttered with Sheek Louch, Shawn Wigs and Sun God yelling over top of Marlena Shaw’s sped-up vocals to neutralize any sort of productivity on any participant’s part. When the talent is top notch and the parties are focused, the outcome results in something along the lines of Jake One’s “Troublemakers,” which is a verbal beatdown from the Wu-Massacre sector of the Clan. Too bad that isn’t the case throughout the entire discourse i.e. “Black Tequila,” which is basically a smattering of random bars.
Apollo Kids won’t go on to challenge the best work in Ghost’s catalog for top position nor will it place him back at the helm of the Clan’s movement off the strength of its arrival. On the brighter side, Ghostdeini makes sure his core fanbase is covered and guarantees another K.O. for The Wallabee Champ. All babies shall be saved!