The Passion of the Weiss

Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick. But most of the time, I don't rhyme.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Beers, Blazin' & Ganja : Ghostface Killah

There are times when sobriety pays off. Taking the SAT. Going on a job interview. Giving yourself an impromptu scalp shave in Tarzana. But attending a Ghostface show sober yields few dividends. Showing up to see Ghostface sans honey-dipped spliffs and/or some brand of liquor is like attending a funeral naked: ultimately, both experiences will leave you rather embarrassed and ultimately baffled. (No Kevin Barnes)

Simply put, Ghostface is the most interesting live performer in hip-hop. There are certainly performers who sound better live (GZA, Pharoahe Monch), others capable of dazzling you with their array of technical skills (Edan) and even others who are just straight-up funnier (Dip Set), yet no performer in the game can match the sheer off-the-cuff amusement that Ghost never fails to provide.

Ghost operates on one of those rarefied mental plains, way out of the straight-jacket normalcy of modern society, with an array of tics and idiosyncrasies to make Woody Allen blush. This is partially why it is crucial to be in an altered mind state when confronting such a spectacle likely to include: extemporaneous stories about shaking Biggie Smalls' hand a decade previous, lectures on fake rap beefs, and the occasional dance party with the Omega Mu Sorority House.
Never Before Has Someone Needed a Reality Show More
With roughly 20 hangers-on hovering around the DJ booth, Ghost and Theodore Unit took the stage at half past midnight, coming out to "Metal Lungies" full of its bulging synths, abandoned safe house vibe, and cries of "Theodore." From there the track blended seamlessly into the classic party vibe of "Ice Cream," with the crowd chanting along with the Method Man hook and Ghost kicking his off-kilter paean to black Miss America's named Erika, girls that would look like Spuds McKenzie (if Ghost was jiggy) and Adina Howard, who very understandably had been on his mind all week.

The proceedings had a psychedelic vibe, with Ghost rambling, slurring, stoned on-stage, perpetually keeping the audience on their toes, descending into the Dali-worthy surrealism of "The Forrest," (if Dali loved the Smurfs), and the slow stuttering burn of "Whip You With a Strap." Ghost effortlessly regaling the crowd with distorted, crystal-clear childhood visions in one breath, then declared that all of us "are Gods for coming out the pussy, lucky motherfuckas, who out of millions of sperm made it to that one egg," in the next.

One second it's "Ghost Deini," and a surprisingly well choreographed "Run," the next he's babbling that he's "a righteous man." Keep in mind, this is minutes before Ghost broke into his now-standard on-stage dance party, with whatever flotsam and jetsam he and the rest of Theodore Unit were able to coax out of the crowd. Yet out of any Wu-Tang dance party I've ever seen, this one may have been the most depressing, with the assembled females looking like they'd been brought to the party by Gilbert, Lewis and Booger. Don't think that stopped Shawn Wiggs, Ghost, and Sun God from molesting anything in sight. Hell, even Solomon Childs stopped spitting in his tobacco bottle for a few moments long enough to start feeling on a girl that vaguely resembled William Howard Taft.

Whatchu Talking About William?

Meanwhile, Trife Da God wisely focused his energies on the lone attractive dancer, a trashy but sorta' attractive Joan Jett looking girl, who would later be seen by Ian Cohen in the parking, getting blasted by her boyfriend. Of course, this raises the philosophical question: if you lose your girl to a member of Theodore Unit, shouldn't that be a sign that she might not have been "the one." Meanwhile, Sean Wiggs, the East Coast's answer to Paul Wall, performed his rather annoying verse from "Greedy Bitches," leaving me to conclude that I have little interest in ever hearing Wiggs rap again. However, I am interested in is finding out what exactly he had to do to get into Theodore Unit. The only way his admission makes any sense is that he has several dead bodies under his belt.

The set list was surprisingly devoid of tracks from Fishscale, with the aforementioned "Whip You With a Strap," the only cut performed. Instead, in an all-too-generous gesture, Ghost allowed Theodore Unit a sizeable amount of face time, proving once again that while Trife, Sun and Solomon Childs are pretty decent rappers in their own right, they'll never come close to Papa Starks either. But when Starks had the spotlight, he controlled it, leaving the crowd magnetized with his irrepressible charisma and impassioned delivery.

Hunter Thompson once wrote that "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." Ghostface is both: simultaneously, a pro capable of dazzling you with the best hip-hop songs ever written, but weird enough to stun you with the breadth of his bizarre thoughts and theories that make much more sense under the influence of strong drink and various narcotics. His live show may not be the best in hip-hop, but it's easily the most surreal. Indeed, Ghostface subliminally understands something Booger in Animal House taught us a very long time ago. If you have enough wonderjoints, even a party with the Omega Mu's can be turned into a great time.

MP3: Ghostface Killah-"Ghost Deini"
MP3: Ghostface Killah-"The Forrest"

Bonus: Ghost performing a typically unnecessary "Cherchez La Ghost" Dance Party Last Year.


At 9:16 AM, Anonymous b chapman said...

i saw ghost early on in the tour last year and i have to say i was not impressed. sure, it was indianapolis on like a tuesday and the club was less than packed. but theo unit took approximately 30 minutes to bash the sound dude, both threatening him and his children (!). ghost shows up and apologizes to the guy but not after making us listen to theo unit for like an hour. ghost proceeds to rip through about 7-8 songs and then it's dance dance revolution with fat white chicks. the dance party had to last as long as ghost's portion of the show.

at least i got to see a titty on stage. i think sun god "persuaded" a girl to free up a breastice or two. that was thoughtful.

in full disclosure, i also saw him in cincinnati maybe 5 months later and he fucking controlled the crowd. maybe indy was an off night. i think it is for a lot of artists, now that i think about it.

At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Rap Jack Bauer said...

I saw Ghost in Philly last year when "Fishscale" dropped and he absolutely KILLED IT! Trife and the Unit opened with 2 songs then from there it was Pretty Tone going off for an hour and a half.

Of course J-Love dropped the old 70s dance records and they pulled up about 25 chicks on stage to grind on and molest for 10 minutes, but the crowd ate it up. It was one of the most complete hip hop performances I've ever seen.

At 10:30 AM, Blogger green hornet said...

Yesss, the little reenactment during "Run" is the greatest thing I've ever seen at a show. On stage.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Passion of the Weiss said...

I've definitely seen both, where Ghost does what you talk about him doing in Indy as well as the Cincy really never know what you're gonna' get. Set list too. He goes deep into the catalogue which I really respect. The only problem is, as a wise man said to me when the girls were on-stage for forever and day with nothing to do: Ghost is like George Bush: no exit strategy.

At 2:28 PM, Anonymous b chapman said...

the show sort of slowly peters out there at the end.

ghost was pretty much like "ummm, shows over... girls hang backstage and we'll let you know how to get to our hotel."


well, maybe not for ghost and company.


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