Sunday Music: Ghostface’s “Supreme Clientele” Turns 20

The intensity, the stream of consciousness style, the sheer descriptiveness of his fragmented, pulp-story-telling over soulful samples, this album is a masterpiece. In early 2000 we were at a special crossover as rap’s ascent into complete chart domination had seemingly been cemented. Ghost was making songs that were still steeped in the Wu tradition of limited refrains, choruses, and modern pop sensibilities. These weren’t going to top charts, but they were at the top of the underground.

One lyrical example. Even reading it you feel the complexity of what he was doing rhythmically. From his lead-off verse (“Nutmeg”):

Scientific, my hand kissed it
Robotic, let’s think optimistic
You probably missed it, watch me Dolly Dick it
Scotty Wotty copped it to me, big microphone hippie
Hit Poughkeepsie, crispy chicken, verbs, throw up a stone, Richie
Chop the O, sprinkle a little snow inside a Optimo
Swing the John McEnroe, rap rock’n’roll
Ty-D-Bol, gung-ho pro, Starsky with the gumsole
Hit the rum slow, parole kids, live Rapunzel
But Ton’ Stizzy really high, the vivid laser eye guy
Jump in the Harley ride, Clarks, I freak a lemon pie
I’m bout it, bout it, Lord forgive me, Ms. Sally shouted
Tracey got shot in the face, my house was overcrowded
You fake cats done heard it first
On how I shitted on your turf that time, Cuban Link verse yo
Check out the rap kingpin, summertime, fine jewelry dripping
Face to the box, I seen your ear twitching
As soon as I drove off, Cap’ came to me with three sawed-offs
Give one to Rae’, let’s season they broth
Lightning rod fever heaters, knock-kneed a Sheeba for hiva
Diva got rocked from the receiver bleeder
Portfolio, looking fancy in the pantry
My man got bigger dimes son, your shit is scampi
Base that, throw what’s in your mouth, don’t waste that
See Ghost lamping in the throne with King Tut hat
Straight off

And we could go for days if we even started to touch all of the embedded references. Put it on, turn it up. Supreme Clientele holds up damn well at 20-years old.

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