Unless an entire city block emerges as a hip-hop supergroup, the Wu-Tang Clan will go down in the history books as rap's most prolific and gifted collective. And Ghostface Killah might ultimately be recognized as its greatest solo performer, if only because Method Man and Raekwon take nine years
between solo albums. If Dr. Dre's groundbreaking hip-hop work is G-Funk, then Ghostface's increasingly croony discs are G-Soul. Since proving himself rap's Iron Man with 1999's classic Supreme Clientele
, he's spent diminishing time rhyming about guns and running game. On Bullet Proof Wallets
and The Pretty Toney Album
(his Def Jam debut), he's been increasingly suave, playing the alter-ego role of millionaire playboy Tony Starks. (The extra "s" apparently wards off the wrath of Marvel Comics. Now there's
a crew you don't wanna f--- with.)
Fresh from a Wu reunion, Ghost is embarking on a pre-release tour, building a buzz for his fifth full-fledged solo album, the hotly anticipated Fishscale, slated for an April release. In addition to the hot current single "Back Like That," the disc will feature tracks from J. Dilla, Just Blaze, Pete Rock, and other big-name producers. Raekwon and the Wallaby Champ reunite for "Be Easy," and Ghost is now so focused on shoring up his reputation as a transcendent star that he's even put the Buddha down. Now if he'd just give that same advice to Method Man.