Ghostface | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ghostface is the most soulful member of the Wu-Tang Clan; he's also the most gangsta. In the age of the sensitive thug (as epitomized by 50 Cent) it's taken for granted that those traits don't have to preclude each other. But before Ghost dropped Ironman in 1996, there were few alternatives to cold-blooded menace other than the brand of epic self-pity inherited from Tupac, who died that year. Ghost's persona was that of the rare dealer whose emotions hadn't been dulled by the streets; on tracks like "All That I Got Is You," a remarkably detailed reminiscence of a project childhood, he remembered where he came from without blaming his faults on that past. Some of his best stories outline a process of change: here's how things used to be, here's how they are now. And sometimes they touch on how things might someday be: "I'm gonna sell my guns / And with the cash I'm gonna bring you to Vegas," he tells one faithful honey on his first disc for Def Jam, The Pretty Toney Album. But most of the new disc is less lovey and more bloodthirsty than you might expect from a man who recently dropped Killah from his name. This would be all right except for that, with a few exceptions--particularly "Run," his 2003 single about what you bad boys gonna do when they come for you--Ghost's narrative skills are slightly blunted, and anyone with access to unlicensed mix tapes like "Hidden Darts 2" will miss certain tracks his new label consigned to limbo. Still, his dense, cryptic phrasing tops anyone for brilliant obscurantism. And when he leaps breathlessly into his rhymes over sampled soul vocals, Ghostface creates a sense of urgency no active MC can match. Core Megga, Masta Killah, and Kenny Kash open. $19.50 in advance, $22 day of show; 18+. Monday, June 14, 9 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.

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