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Sixteen years ago on this day, the Wu-Tang Clan dropped it’s second album as a group, following the legendary “36 Chambers” LP. Forget a mixtape this week. I’ve put aside my usual assortment and dedicated this one to tracks only off Wu-Tang Forever. Here are my favorites.                     @codymarcroft


The prolonged wait for Ghostface Killah’s tenth album was filled with anxious hype. Ghostface Killah delivered, however, with yet another fantastic album to augment his solo career. Ghostface cleverly wrote Twelve Reasons to Die; an album that told a fictional story about a mafia man in Italy. The plot was supported perfectly by Adrian Younge’s phenomenal production.

Throughout the album, Ghostface plays the character of Tony Starks, as he declares in the first track, “Beware of the Stare.”


“I might shoot ya, make your ass an example/

You can’t f*** with Tony Starks and not get trampled/

Get hunted like a rat in a field; I hate rats/

Hate fake ass n****s that love to set traps.”


The story of Tony Starks becomes one of revenge. Starks, who is involved in the mafia, is killed by his people after having an affair with the ‘bosses daughter’ so-to-speak. They toss Starks into a pot of vinyl, and he is melted down and made into a record. Throughout the album it is revealed that Starks has come back in the form of Ghostface Killah on vinyl and proceeds haunt his former crime family, the DeLucas. What happens every time the record plays? Somebody dies.

All of this is evident in the first song, but doesn’t become completely clear until you listen through.



One of the things that makes the album great is Ghostface’s storytelling ability, tying fiction into music. This is most apparent in the fact that Tony Starks comes back through Ghostface Killah on a vinyl record. But there are hints of other references as well, like in the second track, “Rise of the Black Suits”:


“Jay De Lucas put me with the fam to grow/

I was a boss amongst white boys, rocking the flow/

I had hoes, bankrolls and minks by the dozen/

My rise to power was quick, they just wasn’t/

Trying to make me a made man, they f****d up the game plan/

I blacked out on them and started my own clan/”


The last line is a clear reference to the Wu-tang. He does it again in the hook, with a reference to “C.R.E.A.M.”:


“Follow no family rules, rules are for fools/

Chase the paper ’cause it’s the cash that rules.”


The 3rd track, “I Declare War” is where the action rises. Appropriate to the title, this is where Wu-tang army comes in. Masta Killa gets on the second verse and RZA narrates the story with an outro.



The surge of Wu-tang features and war theme continues on the next cut. U-God and Inspectah Deck hop on the track with a pair of verses. The music stays upbeat. You can feel the revenge of Tony Starks taking shape as the Killer Bees buzz through.



Just as the action picked up, Ghostface slows down to bring you back into the story. The timing of the change of pace is on point. In the next track, “Center of Attraction” the plot thickens. The song tells about Starks’ affair with Logan, the bosses’ daughter. In the first verse, Starks believes she is perfect for him:


“She knew my lifestyle; chick of a crime boss/

She would hide my guns in the house then lie to the task force/

Finished my sentences; knew my exact frame of mind/

Knew everything I had was hers, and she was mine.”


But Cappadona enters in the second verse and warns Starks that Logan is a set up girl, and the DeLucas family wants a reason to get rid of Starks:


“You think God sent her? Nah, it’s the devil instead/

They got plans for you Tone – they want you dead, dead, dead/

So get rid of that cherry pie pie, she’s mad poison.”

Starks comes back in the third verse brushes off Cappadona, claiming he is too paranoid.



Everything in this album comes together well. With eleven tracks, it’s long enough to tell the story, and short enough to keep the listener engaged. It’s easy to see why Ghostface has longevity. The production from Adrian was on point, and so was Ghostface’s creativity. Entertainment-wise, this is my favorite Ghostface album. The long wait was worth it.

I won’t give away the rest. Check out the remainder of the album to figure out the ending of Ghostface’s tale.

Today Stevie Wonder turned 53 years young. In honor of the soul man’s birthday, I decided to select various hip-hop songs that have sampled Stevie Wonder’s music. Enjoy.


I can never get enough of the Madlib-MF Doom collaboration. Classic track from the duo. They sampled Stevie’s 1968 song, “How Can You Believe?”.



Dilla always seems to make Mixtape Monday – this time it’s a cut off his famous album Donuts. The Stevie sample is from the well-known song, “For Once In My Life”.



How about some old J. Cole to start the week? The beautiful loop you hear throughout this one is from the 1969 song, “My Cherie Amour”.



Let’s continue with the New York rap. Wu-tang up next. One of my favorite songs from Stevie, “Living for the City” is sampled by the Wu.



More from New York – but a different group: A Tribe Called Quest. New York loves some Stevie Wonder. The sampled is from “Sir Duke”.



From east coast to west coast. 2pac makes his Mixtape Monday debut, and gets the closer in this week’s edition. The Stevie song used is “Part Time Lover”



Enjoy your week all. Happy 53rd Stevie! Thanks for the great music, and the subsequent contributions to hip-hop.



For the second installment of Mixtape Monday, I had to find that gritty, hard stuff. Enjoy.


This song comes off GZA’s lesser-known album Beneath the Surface, which dropped four years after the highly acclaimed Liquid Swords release. Personally, I think Beneath the Surface is an underrated album. Sure, the production would have been better if RZA was more involved (like he was on Liquid Swords) but I think Beneath the Surface carries its own weight. This song “Hip-hop Fury” is one of my favorite tracks from GZA’s solo catalog…



Lately I’ve been all about Roc Marciano, thanks to my friend Rug Lyfe. Roc just has it going on. He’s got a mean flow, commanding delivery, and dope rhymes (with some subtly hilarious lines). He’s also backed by some solid production, which is done predominantly by himself along with appearances from Q-Tip and The Alchemist. Plus, this is one of my favorite music videos ever. Roc really represents that New York, East Coast, rugged hip-hop style. He’s just the dude. That’s all I can really say…



I refrained from posting C.R.E.A.M. because it’s pretty much guaranteed that anyone who opens this page has heard that song. Tried to post something different here (yes, I’m being that guy). This track, “Cash Still Rules” still knocks. Raekwon, Method and Ghost speak on this track, over 4th Disciple’s beat – a change-up from the usual RZA production…



I couldn’t leave immortal Technique out of this edition of Mixtape Monday. The Harlem rapper murders this beat. Opening bars:


“The bling-bling era was cute but it’s about to be done/

I leave ya full of clipse [eclipse] like the moon blocking the sun/

My metaphors are dirty like herpes but harder to catch/

Like an escape tunnel in prison – I started from scratch/

And now these parasites want a percent of my ASCAP/

Trying to control perspective like an acid flashback/

But here’s a quotable for every single record exec: /

Get your f***ing hands out my pocket n***a’ like Malcolm X/

But this ain’t a movie, I’m not a fan or a groupie/

And I’m not that type of cat you can afford to miss if you shoot me/

Curse to heavens and laugh when the sky electrocutes me/

Immortal Technique stuck in your thoughts, darkening dreams/

No ones as good as me, they just got better marketing schemes/

I leave you to your own destruction like sparking a fiend.”


Metaphysics is on the production, but it always reminds me of Pete Rock’s “Cake.” They sound exactly the same – both sampling Isaac Hayes’ “Ike’s Rap I.” Metaphysics slowed it down more than Pete, however. The piano is creepy, sending a chill down your spine. The simplistic drum beat underneath the keys adds that rough New York style. I’m a huge fan of Immortal Technique. I love what he does with hip-hop, and this track is one of his best.


When I think of rugged producers, the first producer that comes to mind is Premo. In “Full Clip” his scratches are too nice; just raw hip-hop. Makes my heart jump out of my chest. Guru’s cleverly written and delivered brag lyrics add to the grit of this track:


“Attackin’ like a slick apache/

Lyrics are trigger happy/

Blowin’ back your wig piece just for the way you lookin’ at me/

Cock back, blow, I hit you up right now/

I don’t know why so many y’all wanna be thugs anyhow/

Face the consequence, of your childish nonsense/

I can make your head explode just by my lyrical content/

Get you in my scope and metaphorically snipe ya/

I never liked ya. I gas that ass and then ignite ya/

The flamethrower, make your peeps afraid to know ya/

How many times I told ya? Play your position small soldier.”


Havoc flipped Al Green and churned out this raw beat. Mobb Deep got Nas and Raekwon on the track and they didn’t disappoint. I never mind a 4-verse song, especially when Prodigy, Havoc, Nas and Raekwon are the ones on it.



Shouts out to Rug Lyfe again. First it was Roc Marciano, then Sean Price. Did you hear that beat, too?! Well, no wonder you like it – it’s the Alchemist (who, I have to become more familiar with). Sean Price also has the best opening bars I’ve ever heard:


“I don’t want to dougie, I just want money/

Studied under the understudy, the one-twenty/

Young dummies, can’t spar/

No life. My flow tight, like your pants are”


Ooooof! Get outta here!!