by Joel Smith and Ted S. McGregor Jr. & r & & r & Ghostface Killah & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fphobos.apple.com%252FWebObjects%252FMZStore.woa%252Fwa%252FviewAlbum%253Fs%253D143441%2526i%253D135446925%2526id%253D135446923%2526partnerId%253D30 & quot; & Fishscale & lt;/a & 41/2 Stars & r & How does Ghostface remain on the leading edge of hip-hop, a decade after "Enter the Wu-Tang" and years after most of his Wu-brethren have faded off into dank-plume complacency? (GZA, RZA and ODB's ghost excluded.) By avoiding or suppressing the destructive voice that says no one can match your gift. That voice was Method Man's undoing. Eminem's too. Sooner or later, it's going to hit Kanye hard.
Ghost, though, realizes the flux of hip-hop better than anyone, and avoids stagnation by immersing himself in the skills of others. He's been kicking it with Madlib and MF Doom, learning from underground the way the underground learned from him in the first place. It keeps him vital, humble and hungry as hell.
His flows here are as earnest, dense and filthy as ever. The production isn't anything we haven't heard before, but producers have yet to find a better complement to Ghost's flow than some soulful brass. That's excusable, if unsurprising. It's a minor thing, though: Fishscale is a definitive album. -- Luke Baumgarten
Deadboy & amp; the Elephantmen & lt;a href= & quot;http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/stat?id=rQy1MLe70wI & amp;offerid=78941 & amp;type=3 & amp;subid=0 & amp;tmpid=1826 & amp;RD_PARM1=http%253A%252F%252Fphobos.apple.com%252FWebObjects%252FMZStore.woa%252Fwa%252FviewAlbum%253Fs%253D143441%2526i%253D115131776%2526id%253D115131715%2526partnerId%253D30 & quot; & We Are Night Sky & lt;/a & 4 Stars & r & Former Acid Bath metal-head turned creepy blues-rocker Dax Riggs reorganizes his newest musical project with Tessie Brunet and concocts a nearly flawless collection of truly troubling tunes. The album is steeped in creepiness, which is, after all, the truest characteristic of the blues. If there's no hint of devilishness, something is mighty wrong. We Are Night Sky, in this regard, can only be deemed a success.
The opener, "Stop, I'm Already Dead," sets the tonal landscape for the entire album. Riggs' voice resonates and reverberates across his own muddy chords and Brunet's simple drumming. But the two-piece switches tempo and presentation with enough confidence that listeners are kept off-balance. For all the electrified tracks, there are even starker acoustic numbers where Riggs' vocal vulnerability hints at something far more ominous. Don't be lured too close. Standout "Evil Friend" is such a number. It switches easily from minor chord strums to visions of megalomania: "We are night sky / We are God's eye." Righteous. -- Carey Murphy