If Kool Keith and Slick Rick get their props for mastery of bugged-out metaphors and uncanny plot construction, respectively, Ghostface Killah should be lauded for disregarding literary constructs entirely, producing a ultra-descriptive stream-of-consciousness flow so effortlessly free-formed that it would cause William Faulkner to exclaim, “Yo, rewind that.” Supreme Clientele is a near-definitive masterwork from the increasingly hit-or-miss Wu-Tang camp. Ghostface Killah raps about his various exploits with the verbiage of a college professor, the ferocious swagger of a Mafioso, and street slang so incredibly arcane that more people would probably understand it if he rapped in Esperanto. Under the surveillance of various producers, most notably and prominently Wu-guru RZA, Supreme Clientele surges like the hip-hop equivalent of the Godfather soundtrack, with its soulful organ lines, plaintive guitar fills, minor key piano tinkling, and string crescendos serving as the ambient accompaniment to forceful and scratchy drum loops. Even the minimalist funk of the single “Cher Chez La Ghost” (a rugged take on Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band’s disco hit, “Cherchez la Femme”) finds enough renegade spirit to warrant mandatory dance floor participation out of little more than Ghostface and U-God rhyming over noticeably sparse and reserved bass and drum lines. Aside from these artful practices of groove-oriented sound structuring, Ghostface and RZA find enough time to symbolically reflect their jarring personalities and techniques on the unlisted “Stroke of Death” by rapping over the vexing discordance of a record being repeatedly dragged back to its start position. Through the fuzzy syncopation of “Apollo Kids” or the warm organ fluff of “Child’s Play,” the advanced street poetry and unparalleled Wu production of Supreme Clientele astounds with both the sound and the fury.
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