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It was two years ago when the slick talking, Wallabee-wearing rapper dropped the infectious Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City.  However, the rap wizard has not exhausted his lyrical prowess.  The invigorated rapper has plenty of arsenic laced darts up his sleeves which is very evident with the release of his ninth solo album, Apollo Kids.  So in case you naysayers thought Ghost was going soft on you. Guess again. Ghost came back to rap in true form with bars tougher than adamantium.

In terms of production, the album is rich with soulfulness and grit that is reminiscent of the golden era.  Indeed, Ghost is given enough dexterity to weave his intricate street narrations even if it was through the eye of a needle.  He opens the album strongly with the ethereal and soulful Willie Clark sampled, “Purified Thoughts.”  Ghost is accompanied by close Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest and fellow Wu member GZA.  Each take turn spitting fire and brimstone over the heavenly track, and singe it into an unrecognizable heap of ash.  The album transitions from the smooth and funky track, “Superstar” featuring Busta Rhymes, to the dark and menacing “Drama” featuring Game and Joel Ortiz.  Although all come correct, the track is too reminiscent of Rae’s Only Built for Cuban Links II. Moreover, Game’s reminiscent style of Rae would have been better supplemented by the real chef himself.

Nevertheless, the album continues to transition smoothly, and hits an apex with the Pete Rock produced track, “How You Like Me Baby.”  Here, Ghost spits ammunition like a Chicago typewriter while ricocheting playfully off hi hats and a heavy bass drum. Ghost proceeds by sizing his opponents up with lines like, “you can’t box I seen better hands on an old clock/ the old ox never marked you/ I’ma blow pop.” Another track worth mentioning is “Ghetto” featuring Raekwon, Cappadonna, and U-God. The track is a bass bumping groove that plays on the Marlena Shaw sample “Women of the Ghetto.”  Each rapper cleverly plays on the hook as Shaw ask questions ranging from cash to raising children.  When asked how to deal with rats in the ghetto, for example, Ghostface answers by spitting, “Ayo we ox’em, duff’em, stuff’em in black bags/ torture’m, cross’em out the window with riff raffs.” Afterwards, Ghost closes the album nicely with “Troublemakers” featuring Method Man, Raekwon, and Redman.

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It can’t be emphasized enough that Ghost’s Apollo Kids is as potent as blue magic with each track taking you on a euphoric ride.  Sure Ghostface raps solo on three tracks. That’s still not enough to keep your head banging.  Furthermore, no guest appearance outclasses Ghost and no featured appearance turns a desirable song into an unsalvageable track.  Fans who were expecting to hear an underwhelming performance by Jim Jones on “Hand Cuffin Dem Hoes,” guess again. The track is smoother than a Wallabee sneaker.  Ghost wrapped 2010 up nicely, and still managed to leave us an interstellar treat to bring in the New Year.

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4.5/5

Purchase Apollo Kids On iTunes