Marty will take care of the serious business. For now, Tucker's gonna get personal and tell you why Fishscale is a better album than all the rest of this top 25, and another album I'm sick of hearing about.
Why Fishscale is better than...
....T.I. King: Because listening to Ghostface doesn't require an explanation or defense of selling out.
....Girl Talk Night Ripper: About 300 reasons, all of which involve Ghostface not including anything on his album by the band Wings.
....Liars Drum's Not Dead: Because the Liars are white.
....Herbert Scale: Pretty pop/dance/electronic music will never beat anything that is even surreptitiously connected to the Clan.
....Lil Wayne Dedication 2: Album Art.
....Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings The Flood: Maybe because liking Neko Case makes you almost as gay as liking State & Main?
....Comets on Fire Avatar: Uhhh. Vocals?
....Scott Walker The Drift: Yeah, cause of vocals. And Ghostface never makes you want to kill yourself? Or at least, not on every track?
....Burial Burial: Cause it's longer.
....Califone Roots & Crowns: Cause it's louder.
....Spankrock Yoyoyoyoyo: Clever sex vocals and loud bass. Rinse, repeat.
....Voxtrot EPS: Have you heard these? Are they good?
....Tom Waits Orphans: I'm on the fence here. Go with cause there's one disc length too much.
....Quantic Announcement To Answer: Marty and I have a confession. This album doesn't actually exist.
....Asobi Seksu Citrus: Brooklyn music shouldn't sound like it came from Japan.
....Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America: Separation Sunday beats Fishscale. Boys and Girls lost to Quantic. Moving on.
....Clipse Hell Hath No Fury: crack crack crack crack crack crack crack crack crack crack. yawn.
....Beirut Gulag Orkestar: Φάτε το γάιδάρο μου.
....Bruce Springsteen We Shall Overcome: At no point during Fishscale does one experience "yearning."
....Robert Pollard From A Compound Eye: Only because i'm the only person in the world who likes this album enough to remember talking about it.
....Islands Return To The Sea: The problem with cleverness--it grows to irritate.
....Deftones Saturday Night Wrist: Surprise. This album is better than Fishscale. Okay, no.
....Decemberists The Crane Wife: I don't know. Is there anyone on Earth who would push for this to be higher?
....Joanna Newsom Ys: Wait a second. Are you serious? No, wait, come back. I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!
-Tucker Stone, 2007
Tucker's sorry he didn't take this so seriously. Really. He's really, really sorry. He took a risk that Marty would--and he did, which is why he's our Music Editor-In Chief.
Did you catch Ghostface’s interview in The Onion? He starts out by
answering the question, “What can you tell me about the new album?” (meaning Fishscale) with, “What do you want to
know about it?” He goes on to compare beats
to pussy, admits to picking his Iron Man persona arbitrarily, and refuses to
name his favorite soul artists. Dude’s
impenetrable. He gives the most insight
into himself in the opening moments of the interview, when he describes how he
makes an album: “You get the beats, you write to them, you go in the studio and
lay it down. Hopefully a song comes out
sounding good. If it comes out sounding
good, you put it to the side with the rest of the other good ones, and you try
to decide which ones you’re gonna use on the album.”
If Bob Dylan’s Chronicles
Vol. 1 proves—as Nick Hornby suggests—that Dylan thinks entirely in
metaphors and poetry, so his songs are the natural and obvious outpouring of a
mind that sees the world through a singular point of view; then hearing
Ghostface talk about making music marks him as a completely different beast
altogether. Ghostface’s writing is
analogous with Dylan’s in many respects: his elevated language, his storytelling, his concepts for songs. Both Ghostface and Dylan view songwriting
pragmatically rather than artistically; their artistic sensibilities just
naturally tumble out into their music. But where Dylan approaches his entire life in the same way he approaches
his songs, Ghostface shows up in his songs in a way he doesn’t in real life.
But, maaaaaaan, does he show up all over the place on Fishscale. Ghostface goes to more places in more ways on this album than on any before. It’s his Blonde On Blonde.
“Whip You With A Strap” waxes poetic about the beatings his mother gave him. “Kilo” sounds like Ghostface and Raekwon rolling with the Hard Knock Life orphans on a conveyor belt stacked with mountains of coke. “Big Girl” begins with Ghost hitting on two coked-up hotties and ends with him looking on them like a father figure, telling them, “All I ask in life's for you to be careful/ Stay focused, take care of your health/ Have kids and marry a prince/ Good luck and happiness.” He tops everything off with a far-from-horrible duet with The Notorious B.I.G., a bona fide Wu-Tang joint, and a dream sequence featuring mermaids with Halle Berry haircuts.
at least five songs that have never even been imagined before. Concept for concept, he’s outthinking every
other MC in the game. Yet, Fishscale is his most commercial album
as well. His duet with Ne-Yo may flip
romantic expectations as Ghostface begs the girl he cheated on not to get with
one particular guy (“Okay, girl, what I did was whack/ But you don’t get a
nigga back like that”), but it’s still, you know, a duet with Ne-Yo. There’s an ode to mothers which tilts Ghost
into sheer sentiment, and “Be Easy” is his most straightforward track ever—he
rides a horn-driven Pete Rock beat with a catchphrase hook and, voila, the song
nets a spot on Entourage.
Then, there’s the stuff you go to Ghostface for: the high-octane drama of “Shakey Dog;” the murky, RZA-influenced beats (this time provided frequently by MF Doom); Ghost working himself up into an emotional frenzy. Fishscale would be all things to all people, if all people could appreciate violent storytelling dressed up with surreal, stream-of-consciousness imagery; Kanye-baiting, soul-twisting production; and songs that don’t fit into the usual hip-hop tropes of a typical major-label album. As it is, one can only assume that the people who have gravitated toward Ghostface have done so because of his staggering acuteness or the deep mystery of his verses. As much as we can zero in on his turns of phrase, his concepts, the way he picks his beats, there’s still something elusive about Ghost. This is not a guy who should have as many supporters as he does. But he does. He’s the best rapper in the game, but if you asked him, he’d tell you, “I just do this shit because I gotta feed my family.”
-Marty Brown, 2007