Wu-Tang Clan is one of the most influential and relevant rap groups in Hip-Hop History. The all star team that came together at one time to launch a global takeover was inspirational for music, and there is not a person on the planet that does not know what “C.R.E.A.M.” means. Ghostface Killah took that first stepping stone and transformed that into a solo career where he would become successful with collaborations, remixes, and lyricism that would shake the foundation of hip-hop once again.
The 2001 release, Bulletproof Wallets (Feat. Raekwon) was a smooth transition for Ghostface fans as the artist never really seemed to stop with music through his own albums or through features. Ghost is an instantly recognizable voice in hip-hop that has a grumble, but pronounced lyrical style. The exhibition match of producers that Ghostface Killah uses is like a squadron of bruisers, from RZA, to Mathematics, to The Alchemist, there is more than enough talent to create a whirlwind of instrumentals. With the opening skit, then being moved into “Maxine”; an extremely funky, but head-knocking instrumental that is illuminated through Ghost’s delivery. The production from RZA and the feature from Raekwon continues to boost Ghostface’s own style of lyricism and the productions on Bulletproof Wallets are synonymous.
There are no real sides of ugliness behind the instruments present and the sampling done to achieve some of the production is engaging through the wide range of depth presented. Surprising from the Iron Man comes the real ferocity behind his vocals rather than the instrumentals, especially when reaching the track, “Flowers”. Ghostface Killah explains, “Bulletproof Wallets, 20 G kitchen sets made out of Korea. Top sear, gots to be a lots to see a rocks… Peace, hate to be ya, especially when them shots ring off in slow motion when yo head hit the meter. You lost two liters, at the same case speeder”. He is aggressive, but never in a way that overshadows the instrumentals or in a way that is brutish.
Ghostface is still able to show a sense of humor behind his lyrics as well and as he reaches “Ghost Showers”, he can let loose and bring back some of that chest-out rap. He explains, “Star-spangled up and my chain got cuts, Mr. T looked, saw my shit and went nuts. Stark stays in luck, truck, there’s a new gangster in town and he’s coming up”. His charismatic nature is the best thing behind Ghostface Killah’s Bulletproof Wallets. It is the sense of illustration and ability to rhyme while keeping his face in a straight, never-cracked demeanor. This is also with the work of one of the hottest beats on Bulletproof Wallets, the track “The Forest” which takes a sample from The Wonderful World of Disney that flutters and springs Ghost into action without a missed step. It is a perfect strut of boom-bap styling that has Ghost murdering the instrumental without mercy as he delivers nearly three-minutes of straight lyrics.
Ghostface’s Bulletproof Wallets is a standout for the production that mixes entirely too well with the lyrical style of both Ghost and of Raekwon who is present on four total tracks. It is a strange, almost dated adventure that holds up so well and still inspires to this day. The output that Ghostface Killah brings to the table is something that he has been able to present and his final charismatic nature is still a joy to hear even sixteen-years later.