Review #403: Supreme Clientele, Ghostface Killah

Karla Clifton
3 min readJun 14, 2023

#403: Supreme Clientele, Ghostface Killah

According to RS, Kanye’s “whole style” was inspired by Ghostface. It’s the record that brought the WTC back to life, but it’s also a time capsule, a rap album that came out in 2001. Just look at those glasses. This album inspired me to go back and count how many artists will forever have ugly glasses on their album cover. I counted five others: Elvis Costello, Wyclef Jean, Elton John, PJ Harvey, and Aaliyah. More if you have more discerning taste.

One accidental consequence of reviewing RS’s top 500 albums of all time: my exposure to the Wu-Tang Cinematic Universe. It’s easy to connect them all when I’ve been listening to their albums for years. And this one has every single Wu at some point. So let’s go on a quick tour of Who’s Wu:

RZA is someone I most recently encountered on the History Channel’s The Food That Built America. He contributes to most episodes in s2, not adding much to the historical discussion, just commentary. I was confounded by this. Why are they asking a member of the Wu-Tang Clan about Pizza Hut? What am I missing? It became an inside joke: when deciding on how to go about random tasks throughout the day, I would ask myself or my boyfriend, “But what does RZA think about this??”

Then, in S2 E11, they showed the origins of the Good Humor man. RZA smiled, and the joke was over, a reason revealed. He told the story of how he ended up rewriting the original ice cream man jingle (which was a minstrel song) and it with a perfectly ice-creamy nameless public domain song.

Here, RZA appears on the hunger-inducing “Nutmeg” and the also-food-themed “The Grain,” so maybe he was always destined to be on a show about food.

Raekwon features on “Apollo Kids.” Ghostface actually served as Raekwon’s hype man on his album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, another cult big success. Have to say, Raekwon’s album cover is a little bit cooler than Ghost’s. I think it’s the lack of sunglasses.

U-God (“Cherchez LaGhost”) and Inspectah Deck (“Stay True”) also feature on OB4CL. I’m trying to be thorough but there are so many Wu members that feature here — Cappadonna, GZA, Masta Killa, Redman, Method Man, and more. The tour is over, as I can’t fall down this rabbit hole for you — it’s kind of one you have to climb into yourself.

Something I always forget about WTC: their albums have more set dressing than a Broadway show. They have skits that range from kinda silly (“Who Would You Fuck”) to pretty dark (“Woodrow the Basehead”). There are samples from a 1966 Iron Man cartoon, which he actually sued for. (See “Intro,” “Iron’s Theme (Intermission),” “Iron’s Theme (Conclusion).”) Then there’s the house party (“Wu Banga 101”).

Because this was made in 2000, there’s a hearty amount of badass one-upmanship. “Saturday Nite” is a warning to cops, “Clyde Smith” a warning to 50 Cent. On “Malcolm,” Ghost unabashedly compares himself to Malcolm X (and Eddie Van Halen). But it also avoids being your typical 2000s rap album. “Stroke of Death” features the most prominently sampled record scratch I’ve ever heard, and “Buck 50” juxtaposes I don’t like your fucking attitude with Super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious-docious-ali-expi-fragi-listic-cali-super.

Confession: One night I know I’ll wake up in a cold sweat and re-dig through my own Wu-Tang archives, and finally fall down the rabbit hole. Right now I’m in kind of a “singer-songwriter” era, but after that I feel like another rap era is due. Wu-Tang will be the first place I look.

More Branches of the Rabbit Hole: Here are some of the other songs on the album with links to their samples. Go nuts. “One,” “Ghost Deini,” “We Made It,” “Child’s Play,” “Mighty Healthy.”

Review #402: Expensive Shit, Fela Kuti and Africa 70

Review #404: Rapture, Anita Baker