Ghostface Killah 

Apollo Kids

True story: Once, in a dark Virginia Beach parking garage, Method Man told me in an intimidating vioce, "Beware of the Wu." But it was Ghostface Killah who seemed the legit menace, passing by with a smile and gesticulating like he was slitting my craw with a katana. So it's when Ghostface Killah drops a new album that you best listen up.

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"Purified Thoughts," sums up the good and the less-than-good on Apollo Kids. Potent musical tension abounds when Ghostface's free-associative rhymes are juxtaposed against the placid beat and soulful vocals. This track also features the less-than-good Killah Priest who doesn't possess the lucid insanity of Ghostface. In fact, seven of 10 tracks feature a bevy of rappers with only two standout supporters. On "Drama," Game delivers killer cultural connections from Raekwon to Rachael Ray; Black Thought drops stark old-school Philly knowledge on "In Tha Park."

No auto-tune. No Fergie. The vintage vibe makes this an ideal record for Wu-Tang newbies. Just dope loops and one of the greats telling street stories and letting the people know, "New Rappers need to skip town / This is East Coast music / Grandpa Ghost is around." But Apollo Kids could use more grandpa and less grandkids.

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