Ghostface Killah "Set The Tone (Guns & Roses)" Review

BYTeeJay Small2.0K Views
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Ghostface Killah's latest album offers a few standout moments, but mostly fails to deliver a cohesive body of work.

Ghostface Killah is an iconic MC who truly requires no introduction. The rap legend has been churning out high-quality releases for over three decades, both as a solo artist and as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. His latest effort, Set the Tone (Guns & Roses) released on May 10, features a wide array of rap industry icons. The record touts guest appearances from the likes of Method Man, Nas, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, and more. Set the Tone (Guns & Roses) marks Ghostface Killah's return with his first full-length album since 2019's Ghostface Killahs, providing nearly five full years of new experiences for the artist to cover. Let's dive into the project and review the material therein.

The Album Starts Off Strong

Ghostface Killah kicks off Set the Tone with the explosive track "6 Minutes," offering rap verses with Ghost's trademark brash delivery. The track features guest vocals from Jim Jones, Sheek Louch, and Harl3y, each blending perfectly with Ghost's grimy East Coast flavor. The second track on the album, "Pair of Hammers," is handily the best song on the entire project, as Ghost and Method Man exchange lyrical haymakers in a showing of pure Wu-Tang chemistry. Be sure to pack a spare pair of headphones when listening to this song because Method Man's delivery of "I tell her 'La-Di-Da-Di' like I'm Rick / We jammin' in the party, Bob Marley with the spliff / Black Bugatti with the shift / Look at Johnny, I'm blazin', got an army, not a clique," may leave your earbuds smoking.

"Skate Odyssey" continues this high-energy trend with a smooth, jazzy beat and a soulful sung chorus from October London. You wouldn't normally expect this jazz-inspired vibe to fit well with Ghostface Killah's in-your-face delivery, but the track manages to achieve perfect harmony with the juxtaposition. Raekwon appears for a brief feature on the back end, proving once again that Ghost works best alongside his Wu affiliates.

Set The Tone Begins To Lose Steam Halfway Through

While some tracks manage to maintain interest, such as "Scar Tissue" with Nas and "No Face" with Kanye, Set the Tone (Guns & Roses) begins to falter at the halfway mark. The album runs 19 tracks over the course of 52 minutes, with a solid amount of filler padding out the back end. Tracks such as "Kilo in the Safe," "Cape Fear," and "Locked In" are completely forgettable and frankly should have been left on the cutting room floor. Ghostface Killah also chose to cram a handful of pointless skits into the mix, which sees him speaking about cereal, flirting with a woman over the phone, and roasting his friends on a video call.

While Ghostface Killah does experiment with different sounds on a few tracks, many of them come off as bland and unfinished. Such is the case for the Reggae-inspired "Champion Sound," which features Beniton singing in patois, or the Caribbean dance-inspired "Shots" with Busta Rhymes. While these tracks aren't the lowest point on the album, they are mostly forgettable, with Ghost failing to bring enough energy to keep listeners attentive.

There Are Some Major Low Points

Despite Ghost's best efforts, he throws some serious duds into the mix here, with tracks like "Bad B****" and "Touch You" offering absolutely no value to listeners. The latter track is a misguided love and sex ballad that makes the baffling decision to heavily interpolate Mario's 2004 hit "Let Me Love You." However, the absolute lowest moments on this record come from the songs "Plan B" and "Trap Phone."

“Plan B” is an absolutely repugnant song that painstakingly lays out a narrative of Ghostface Killah cheating on his spouse and forcing his lustful affair to take a Plan B pill so as not to disrupt his existing family. All of this is punctuated with thousands of layers of obnoxious autotune. This track isn’t even worth listening to out of morbid curiosity. Furthermore, “Trap Phone” isn’t even really a Ghostface song at all, as Chucky HollyWood takes the lead for about 80 percent of the runtime, with a completely unlistenable whining autotune effect that sounds like he let a child loose in the studio to play with the vocal effect knobs.

Conclusion

Ghostface Killah does manage to recoup some interest in the final moments of Set the Tone (Guns & Roses) with an energetic final track titled "Yupp!" with Remy Ma. This song might have had a shot at bringing the vibe back, but it's just too little too late after combing through some of the missteps. While the album does have some major high points, especially in the first handful of tracks, it falls flat overall.

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About The Author
TeeJay Small is a professional humorist, pop culture columnist, and an avid enjoyer of all things hip hop. When he's not compiling dozens of monologue-style jokes about the most absurd news headlines, or furiously scribbling rewrites for his television pilot, you can find him carefully analyzing the lyrics to the latest Griselda or Dreamville releases, or digging in the crates to find the hottest up-and-coming rappers. After receiving his bachelor's degree in English/Communications from UMASS Boston, TeeJay set out on a journey to travel the world and develop a culturally diverse media career. He has been personally assured by both members of EARTHGANG that he is, in fact, part of the culture.