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The 50 Best Ghostface Killah Songs
See which of The Wally Champ's most notorious bars make it on the list of the best Ghostface Killah songs.
Image via Getty/Scott Gries
Ghostface Killah turned 47 in 2017, but he is still one of hip-hop music's most vibrant talents. The Almighty GFK has been the most consistent wordsmith out of the Wu-Tang stable from the time he introduced himself to the rap world on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin.’” Tony Starks has been hitting us over the head with amazing verses and songs for nearly 25 years now; this decade alone has seen him drop collaboration albums with his Wu compatriots Method Man and Raekwon, his fellow New Yorker Sheek Louch, the Canadian jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD, and Adrian Younge, twice.
Ghost followed up his verses on Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by co-hosting Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx before releasing his classic solo debut, Ironman, in 1996. He topped those classics with his critically-acclaimed masterpiece, Supreme Clientele, in 2000. Since then, he's released more solo albums all brimming with creativity.
The Shaolin native has been firmly placed in the pantheon of rap’s all time greats, especially when it comes to storytelling. Ghost has brought to life for us his childhood days on the track “All That I Got Is You,” failed attempts on his life on “The Hilton,” and wars waged with the DeLuca crime family on Twelve Reasons to Die .
The Wally Champ has one of the most charismatic personalities in rap history: He rocks robes with jeans and Timbs, has a Wonder Woman bracelet, dons gaudy necklaces and rings, and can give you advice on life (just listen to his MTV advice audiobook, “The World According to Pretty Toney,” and his “Wizdom of the Week” video series for proof).
On top of all that, his pen is masterful and his style is untouchable. When he’s not in storyteller mode, Tony spits with no rhyme or reason, often leaving the listener beguiled and confused—but that’s what makes him a one of a kind rapper. His raps is like ziti, and they can take you into another world. Come take this walk with us as we represent Wu and rank the 50 best Ghostface Killah songs.
50. Pusha T f/ Ghostface Killah & Kanye West "New God Flow" (2012)
Album : Cruel Summer
Producer : Kanye West, Boogz & Tapez, Anthony Kilhoffer
Label : G.O.O.D., Def Jam
With its "Mighty Healthy" sample, "New God Flow" was a natural landing place for a Ghost remix. As the curtain rises and the dim lights turn fiery red for the final act, Ghostface strolls onto the track with poise igniting a lyrical performance that matches the menacing production. "I'm not bow-legged but old school like Redd Foxx/My favorite color in my hustle days was red tops." Ghost may have been nearly a decade older than his counterparts here, yet he still brought an exceptional element of grandeur that upped the records' significance. — Edwin Ortiz
49. Wu-Tang Clan "Hollow Bones" (2000)
Album : The W
Producer : RZA
Label : Loud, Columbia
The tortured wailing of Syl Johnson's "Is It Because I'm Black?" all over "Hollow Bones" signifies literal pain on these three verses that deal with getting shot. Rae is on the corner getting lifted when "something told me duck/Folding me up, my shoulder's struck/Out of luck;" he tries to jump in a cab to get to the hospital. Elsewhere, Deck is heard "Fleeing the crime scene speeding/Beefing, leaving behind C.R.E.A.M./Not even peeping that I was leaking."
Ghostface hits the check cashing spot at the wrong time—five dudes try to rob him. "I thought for a second then chose/Rather than froze/Had the Gem Star in my hand/'Yo, what the fuck, yo?'/That's when I ripped Timothy." Shots ring, bullets fly...Tony doesn't finish talking. It's the hook ("That splash against my hollow bones") that lets us know exactly where the bullets end up. — Gabriel Alvarez
48. Ghostface Killah f/ Killa Sin, RZA & GZA "Strawberry" (2001)
Album : Bulletproof Wallets
Producer : Mathematics
Label : Epic
Ghost has the gift of telling stories (especially those involving sex) and he proves it on Bulletproof Wallet's eighth track. Over a luscious David Porter sample, Ghost sits us by the campfire and speaks of the time he fucked a high school chick (or a girl that he knew from high school, something like that). Anyway, she has small feet and an off-the-hook ass. The imagery he provides makes us feel like we're looking in with Killa Sin and RZA. And after he busts a nut, the song ends appropriately with a H. Rap Brown poem which, if you listen closely, makes the song that much more dope. — Angel Diaz
47. Ghostface Killah "Rise of the Ghostface Killah" (2013)
Album : Twelve Reasons to Die
Producer : Adrian Younge
After a short time out of the spotlight, Ghost in 2013 wrestled it back onto himself with Twelve Reasons to Die. This particular track is about Ghost's search for the DeLucas. After they pressed his remains into 12 vinyl records, Ghost rose from the ashes to seek revenge, sort of like the character from which his name derives. As he searches for the crime family that murdered him, he wages war on them and their associates. "Rise" is a grizzly tale of murder and blood, full of beheadings and Colombian neck-ties. Adrian Younge and co-producers Bob Perry and Andrew Kelly really outdid themselves with the live instrumentation. — Angel Diaz
46. Ghostface Killah f/ The Force M.D.'s "The Soul Controller" (1996)
Album : Ironman
Label : Razor Sharp, Epic Street
"The Soul Controller" is a series of juxtapositions. Sam Cooke's famous "A Change Is Gonna Come" was a hopeful outlook on the civil rights movement and the human race in general. The Force M.D.'s interpolation contorts this view into a hollow, almost pessimistic one. It fits well into the song's context; Ghostface opens his first verse "Yo, yo these streets got me backed down how can I escape?/How can I survive without bubblin weight?" Ghostface's biggest enemy is an unbeatable one: time. It's what makes old corners unfamiliar, old faces fade into strangers, and cripples minds. Iron Man tries to advise that despite this, man is ultimately in control of his fate: "Stay sober, the soul controller."
But it's when he loses control that this song becomes memorable. The beat transforms into this darker, more aggressive, and faster machine while Ghostface's third verse takes a turn to the abstract. It's intense, but Ghostface is an intense dude and time is an intense enemy. — Brian Josephs
45. Ghostface Killah f/ U-God "Cherchez LaGhost" (2000)
Album : Supreme Clientele
Producer : Carlos Bess
Label : Epic, Sony, Razor Sharp
Prior to Supreme Clientele's release, Ghostface fans were waiting for the over-the-top personality to craft his own signature party track. Their prayers were answered as the millennium arrived. "Cherchez LaGhost" came out of nowhere, flipping the "Cherzchez La Femme" sample to perfection, but with a dark, distinctly Wu spin. Ghost's brief verse is littered with Pretty Tonyisms like "Brothers try to pass me, but none can match me/No girl can freak me, I'm just too nasty," while U-God had some of us dreaming of dimly lit, Bacardi Lime-drenched parties long before it was appropriate.
Over time, "Cherchez LaGhost" became the soundtrack to several irresponsible hotel parties, and decades later, we can still see Gloria Velez seductively winding atop a table to Carlos Bess' plodding production. While this masterpiece may have brought a questionably seductive element to middle and high school dances during the early aughts, those of us far too young to even think about stepping foot in the Tunnel can do little more than dream of the damage it did back in the day. — Julian Kimble
44. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, RZA & Slick Rick "The Sun" (2001)
Album : N/A
Three of the greatest storytellers on one track? Sign us up! Ghost, Chef, and MC Ricky D hop on a track dedicated to the source of life. But once again, Ironman shines on this one (duh). Ghost waxes poetic on how great the sun is with radiant lines like: "Yo, the sun could never be pussy, he always come out/He'll sit right there, even if you pull your gun out" and "You can't stare at him long, 'cause your face'll do like this." He doesn't even have to explain that last line, you just can't help to scrunch your face when he says it. The entire song is double entendre playing on the three legends propensity to shine on rap cats. "I call my brother sun because he shines like one." — Angel Diaz
43. Charli Baltimore f/ Ghostface Killah "Stand Up" (1999)
Album : Cold as Ice
Charli Baltimore had sex appeal, and for a hot minute she had a buzz with "Stand Up," which was produced by the RZA and featured Mr. Charisma himself, Tony Starks. Charli, best known for her association with the late Notorious B.I.G., and Ghost sparked some flirtatious chemistry themselves on this raucous standout punched up by sampled Lyn Collins' vocals and demands of "blow your whistle." "Ayo, Tony, you phony/We both signed to Sony/But for half your pub, I'll ride that dick like a pony," teases the sexy Philly chick also known as Chuck. "Yeah, put your money on my dick/Girls, all eyes on my dick," responds Starks, hilariously. Temperature is rising on this one. — Gabriel Alvarez
42. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, U-God & Popa Wu "Black Jesus" (1996)
First off, a word to the wise: "Back up off me while I grab my dick and hold the Heini." Ghostface needs you to understand that he's not to be disturbed at certain times. Now that that's settled let's get back to the lyrics. This song belongs on the list if only because it contains one of Ghost's most memorable non-sequiturs, "Starks-ologist, fried fish halibut." Being an expert in Tony Starks science is one thing, appreciating tasty seafood is quite another—still Ghost makes room for both concepts in a single line.
A couple of bars later he's recounting the Wu's rise to power in the rap game: "We elbowed our way inside Loud and got on." Loud Records, of course, was the label that agreed to release the first Wu Tang Clan album, and also crucially allowed the individual members to cut their own solo deals, including Ghost's pact with Epic/Sony, which made possible the release of Iron Man .
As a result—as Ghost points out in this densely packed verse—the Wu was soon "G-in' Pepridge farms from out of millions." But pay close attention because he's about to veer back to the halibut theme. "Who wanna rhyme, who wanna challenge the swordmans/That rock that fisherman hat like Gorton's." Who else rhymes like this? Nobody. — Rob Kenner
41. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah "Gihad" (2009)
Album : Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
Producer : Necro
Label : Ice H2O, EMI
Hearing The Chef and Tony Stark back together on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II was a remarkably nostalgic moment, with the cryptic tone of "Gihad" catching both rappers in rare form. While Raekwon's verse fittingly goes down the path of gun-wielding and Pyrex pots, Ghost twists a vivid tale of sexual treachery that will have even the most hard-nosed individual snickering. After getting caught in the act with his son's pregnant girlfriend, Ghostface justifies the brazen exchange as a wake-up call for junior: "She's a whore, you knew it from the time we ran trains on her/And you still went and fucked her raw." These are life lessons you can't learn in school, kids. — Edwin Ortiz
40. Wu-Tang Clan "I Can't Go to Sleep" (2000)
Ghost and RZA cannot catch any ZZZ's. Probably because they are on the verge of tears contemplating all the ills of the world. Ghost worries about Feds jumpin' out of Jeeps, the babies in Africa with flies on their faces, his friend who crapped out gambling. RZA is distraught that major Black leaders like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were murdered. During all this, the liberal dose of Isaac Hayes' immortal "Walk on By" plays on, with Black Moses basically saying to man up. What does it all mean? Is it a call to move on from the past? Is this a reminder of why problems still exist in the 'hood? Whatever the reasoning behind this display of hurt from the Wu's two biggest risk-takers, all we know is that now we can't go to sleep either without a proper explanation. — Gabriel Alvarez
39. Ghostface Killah "Child's Play" (2000)
Considering Ghostface's usual bravado, hearing him crush on a girl wouldn't seem like an instinctively compelling record to appreciate. However, thanks to a perfectly placed George Jackson sample and a wistful tone, "Child's Play" angelically captures young love as Ghost trades in his lyrical darts for elated rhymes chronicling his chaste relationship. "Puppy love, gorgeous face, amazed by her lip gloss/Cherry scent, when the princess spoke, yo it bounced off/Mole like Marilyn Monroe, threw a rose in her mouth/Wherever God go will be Mrs. Cole." Years later, GFK would be "Handcuffin' Them Hoes." — Edwin Ortiz
38. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "The Hilton" (2001)
Producer : Carlos "Six July" Broady
On a Sunday in Bermuda, Chef and Ghost made some Wesley Snipes' movements over a Michael Jackson sample. But while they were enjoying their stay at the Hilton, somebody had different plans for these "laptop niggas, thugs on the computer." While Rae was taking a shower, room service came in the form of two .38s. Being the savvy gangsta that Ghost is, he ran into the sunlight so the ice could blind the gunman as "Rae ran out of the back/Towel on, soap on his arms, spinned duke around." The hitman landed on Tony's lap and got blood on his white leather. 10 Gs down the drain. Damn. — Angel Diaz
37. Ghostface Killah "Holla" (2004)
Album : The Pretty Toney Album
Producer : Ghostface Killah
Label : Def Jam
Only Ghostface can pull off something like this. Tony treats the original track of the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You" like an instrumental as he begs the listener to "listen to me!" There's no direction here, just fly raps over a classic R&B track. Pretty Toney would use this approach later on The Big Doe Rehab with "Supa GFK." Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Superman Lover" and as well as prior with "The Watch" which supposed to appear on Bullet Proof Wallets but he couldn't clear the Barry White sample in time. — Angel Diaz
36. Ghostface Killah "The Champ" (2006)
Album : Fishscale
Producer : Just Blaze
Whether you agree with the beginning remarks on the track ("You ain't been hungry since Supreme Clientele !"), there's no denying the tenacious demeanor that Ghostface Killah locks into throughout "The Champ." Over triumphant production that flips Melvin Bliss' soulful '70s break beat "Synthetic Substitution," Tony Stark comes out throwing haymakers with skilled precision ("While y'all stuck on Laffy Taffy/Wondering, how did y'all niggas get past me?/I been doing this before Nas dropped the Nasty") and keeps the body shots rolling seamlessly ("Bird ass nigga resemble Keenan Ivory Wayans/Stay in your place, dirt poor rappers get shadow boxed for training"). No need for the scorecards, three rounds was all Ghostface needed to retain his belt. — Edwin Ortiz
35. Ghostface Killah f/ Trife da God "Biscuits" (2004)
Producer : True Master
True Master lives up to his name with a wicked flipping of Sam & Dave's "I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down," and Ghost does it justice from the jump. He starts "Biscuits" off with one of his best opening quotes asking, "Yo, who the fuck brought me this chocolate shit, man? I said a banana Nutriment, man....smart, dumb niggas and shit, runnin' around here and shit. Ya'll niggas need to wisen up, man."
That should get you ready for what's about to come. Deni the Great and Trife da God ride this soulful beat with ease. The hook is what makes this a classic cut, with Tony singing to these chumps that don't want any beef. Pass him the Sazon before he fucks around and takes all your shit. Or fuck around and be a sta-tistic. — Angel Diaz
34. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "Kilo" (2006)
Producer : MoSS
Every industry has a meter to measure success, and for Ghostface Killah and his top chef Raekwon that meter is distinctly laid out on "Kilo." The two Staten Island brethren pace themselves over smooth production courtesy of MoSS, with Ghost reassuring listeners that his package is pure ("A hundred birds go out, looking like textbooks/When they wrapped and stuffed/Four days later straight cash, two million bucks/Strictly powder, no cut). Weight or rhymes, Ghost was supplying the streets on Fishscale with records like "Kilo," and like fiends we took a lyrical bump with delight. — Edwin Ortiz
33. Ghostface Killah "Malcolm" (2000)
Producer : Choo the Specializt
"Malcolm" begins as it should, with an excerpt of Malcolm X's Ford Auditorium speech after his house was set ablaze with Ghost shouting, "Speak, Brother Malcolm, speak" over the revolutionary's words. Tony then starts rapping about how he feels like Malcolm when he was looking out his window with an AK-47, and proceeds to goes in about some cornball that's been fronting like he's big time when, "He sport the Bob Hope classics/Ran down Asics/Kmart/The short sleeve shit be the basics/He eat hams shitted on himself twice/Big hatted Jews rushed the nigga out in Crown Heights."
By the sound of the hook, Tony's tired of what's going on in the 'hood and wants to follows Malcolm's lead. In the second verse, he makes reference to the time the Wu had a run in with Ma$e—yes, that Ma$e—and tells us a colorful story of the aftermath, even telling us how muggy it was that day with bars like, "It's raining, 85 degrees kinda muggy/One of the nights they thrown in his face it's real ugly." Ghost has a gift few storytellers possess-the ability to make you feel like you're standing next to him as this all goes down. Detroit Red would be proud, not too sure about Malik El-Shabazz though. — Angel Diaz
32. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, U-God, Masta Killa, & Cappadonna "Winter Warz" (1996)
The Wu-Tang Clan was never known for club bangers, but track No. 7 off Iron Man is built around an energetic, up-tempo RZA beat plus a catchy hook courtesy of Raekwon the Chef that advises listeners to "prepare for mic fights and plus the cold war." U-God, Master Killer, and Cappadonna all shine on the track-in fact, Cappa's closing verse may be the strongest of his entire catalog.
But this is Ghost's album and he handles verse No. 2 with sharp images and undeniable power resulting in blunt-force trauma. "My technique alone blows doors straight off their hinges," he notes early on. Later he asserts that his freestyle is "sharper than the indian spear" and he's got "more games than beggars on trains."
When Ghostdini warns that "my culture glides and attacks just like a vulture," the choice of bird is significant. Since vultures are scavengers one can only assume that his competition is already dead. — Rob Kenner
31. Ghostface Killah "Cobra Clutch" (1998)
Album : RZA Presents Wu-Tang Killa Bees: The Swarm Volume 1
Label : Priority
We all know that an agitated Ghostface Killah randomly lickin' off shots is more entertaining than most rappers' entire albums. Why GFK sounds so mad might be from the lack of airwave support. "Radio, stop shittin' on me!" he yells at the tail end of the chorus for "Cobra Clutch." The Wallabee Champ verbally attacks like the wicked wrestling move the song is named after as he flexes unconnected thoughts, metaphors, analogies, and other forms of insane speech that rush your brain cells rapidly. Mentions of Eddie Bauer, Gumby, Pert Plus, Milagro Beanfield, Kangols, Houdini, Rubik's Cube, and Peppermint Patties provide more randomness. Abstract rap harder than Chinese arithmetic. — Gabriel Alvarez
30. Jodeci f/ Ghostface Killah & Raekwon "Freek'n You (Remix)" (1995)
Producer : Mr. Dalvin
Label : Uptown
The '90s were the decade of the remix, and in '95, Rae & Ghost teamed up with two sets of brothers for one of hip-hop and R&B's best repurposings ever. No matter where you are when you hear the "Freek'n You" remix, the lights immediately get dimmer and the mood for sin is set-credit that ambiance to Dalvin's production. Everyone knows Rae's famous opening line, but it's Ghost's cleanup batter performance that stands out as he eschews his usual lyrical easel for aggressive seduction tactics that allow him to pull "ladies like a hamstring." He advises all women who doth protest too much to drop the act, because all fake freaks fall in the presence of Big Ghostface. If you play this joint too early, you'll be waiting all day like Harry Belafonte to do all of the wrong things. — Julian Kimble
29. Real Live f/ Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, Killa Sin & Lord Tariq "Real Live Shit (Remix)" (1995)
Producer : K-Def
Label : Big Beat
Some real live NYC underground shit right here. Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna, Killa Sin from Killarmy, and Lord Tariq of Money Boss Players join Larry-O and K-Def for a nobody's-smilin' lick made to be played on the streets. Cappa handles the hook, while Ghost busts lyrical unleaded bullets. The MCs sound mean just like the track, which hurls forward with animosity (the Nas "I leave 'em froze like heron in your nose" sample seals the non-commercialness of the cut). This remix later appeared as a special bonus on Real Live's 1996 debut, The Turnaround: A Long-Awaited Drama. — Gabriel Alvarez
28. Ghostface Killah f/ Method Man & Raekwon "Yolanda's House" (2007)
Album : The Big Doe Rehab
Producer : Ant-Live
Ant-Live provided a melodic, soulful beat using an Aretha Franklin sample for Ghost, Meth, and Rae's vivid imagery. Joi Starr came through with the additional vocals that you can hear throughout the track as the three Clansmen keep us informed on how it all went down. Ghost starts things off by telling us about a drug raid he just escaped from. After running through bushes and backyards, he barges into a room where Method Man is butt-naked having sex. You know, just another day in the life of the Wu. — Angel Diaz
27. Ghostface Killah f/ Jadakiss "Run" (2004)
Ghost and Jada take us on a mad dash through the hood as they run from the pigs. The song plays out like an intense police chase straight out of Cops, except this time the bad guys get away. If you grew up in the hood, you witness this type of stuff every other day. Only Ghost would survive an eight-story jump and live to tell about it. RZA's production was essential with the sirens and the sped up Lex Baxter loop. — Angel Diaz
26. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "Maxine" (2001)
Probably the Almighty GFK's funniest story. Maxine and Pam stuck their supplier Mooney for his packages. When the dealer shows up looking for his shit, a whole bunch of drama popped off. After he kicked the door down, Mooney started talking all types of shit. But then he fucked up when he put his gun down after sniffing six lines of coke, especially when "Mooney's only a buck o' five wet and he only had two hundred dollars worth of shit." $200 worth of shit? Definitely not worth getting stomped on by bull-legged Keke and getting thrown out the window. — Angel Diaz
25. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah & Nas "Verbal Intercourse" (1995)
Album : Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
Label : Loud, RCA
Nas' extraordinary guest verse is what people tend to remember about this song. How could they not? While becoming the first non-Wu rapper to enter the 36 chambers, he spit a perfectly concise explanation of recidivism ("It's like a cycle, niggas come home, some'll go in/Do a bullet, come back, do the same shit again"), never mind a description of one the most disgusting parts of your man doing jail time ("On a bus to Rikers Isle/Holding weed inside they pussy").
But it's Ghostface's verse on that really captures the daily terrors of the average inmate. The fear, the paranoia, the shivs, and how you wish you had a crew to hold you down. In other words, Ghost describes the kind of thing you only see on shows like Oz and The Wire and on hip-hop songs. It isn't concerned with being a cautionary tale, or glorifying, just capturing the feeling of anxious terror. Nas would offer a concise summary of Ghost's verse on "Nas Is Like," rhyming, "I'm like being locked down around new faces, and none of 'em fam." — Insanul Ahmed
24. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah & Masta Killa "Glaciers of Ice" (1995)
The cheeba-laced chamber music punctuated by escalating screaming/singing from Blue Raspberry on "Glaciers of Ice" leaves a haunting impression. An excited Raekwon, the underrated Masta Killa (who sneaks in long enough to murder the track), and the always engaging Ghostface drop more of their patented jewels, not the least of which is Ironman's philosophy on the musical empire he and his cronies are building. "My seeds run with his seeds, marry his seeds, that's how we keep Wu-Tang money all up in the family," he says, ensuring us that the Clan saga will continue for generations to come.
It's also worth mentioning how memorable the classic skit that kicked off "Glaciers" was. It featured Ghostface animatedly explaining how he was dying Clarks Wallabees different colors, and it surely was the inspiration for his solo debut album cover, on which he, Cappa, and Rae are surrounded by pairs of the stylish shoes. — Gabriel Alvarez
23. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon & Cappadonna "Camay" (1996)
This should be played at every Ghostface fans' wedding. Cappadonna had a nice verse, but this was a Ghostface track and Ghost went off. He kicks it to a nice young lady while they enjoy dinner in the only way he can. He compliments her physical degrees and her backyard while talking about a future with kids and marriage in it. And he ends by pulling her chair as she stands and asks for her number like a true gentlemen. — Angel Diaz
22. Ghostface Killah "Shakey Dog" (2006)
Producer : Lewis Parker
One of Ghostface's signature traits is his storytelling ability, and of course, you'd have to point to "Shakey Dog" as one of the main examples of his skill. He isn't just playing the storyteller on this track though; he is the story. With the escalating tension of the narrative, Ghostface plots, commands, relaxes, and devolves into straight panic. It's an engrossing trip ranging from the impressively detailed to the absurdly manic. By the time Ghost's character is like "Holy Shit," the listener's ear perks at the what-the-fuckness of the story's situation and the aggression of his delivery. The "To Be Continued" isn't a tease, but rather, a relief. — Brian Josephs
21. Ghostface Killah f/ Superb "Ghost Deini" (2000)
Producer : The Blaqesmiths
Brolic scholars Ghostface Killah and Superb united for one of Supreme Clientele 's best moments, a dense, oblique lyrical exercise broken up only by Ghost's call to deceased artists midway through the track to the tune of the Commodores' "Night Shift." With a minimal wheelhouse Wu beat courtesy The Blaqesmiths, Ghost's verse is full of details crammed together in perfect, unpredictable poetic form, a masterful example of concision and precise editing; there are no wasted words.
Lines run at odd angles, then suddenly cut straight to the point: "Fuck your corny debates," then back to code, "I'm like cake or maybe ten thousand dollar rabbits/The kid walked through, switched up his accent, now I'm from Paris." Interspersed are unexpected metaphors: "Formed like Christ and the disciples," "Show these niggas how the way we dance/Hot night, Jamaica/Came through in a booger green '68 Pacer."
After his first verse breaks down into a Rakim homage, he ends his second by boasting about robbing two known rappers ("I ain't saying no names, they know who, thank you for the change") adding the kind of details ("droppin' their drinks") that make you wonder how true it really was. — David Drake
20. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck & GZA "Guillotine (Swordz)" (1995)
Whether it's RZA's menacing choice of violin that pulsates with the rhythm of a rattlesnake's tail, the friendly competitive rivalry amongst the crew, or the cess that's undoubtedly in the air, each MC is truly inspired to show out with sick, battle-tested styles on "Guillotine (Swordz)." The lethal skills of Shaolin are on full display, with Deck famously jump-starting this 4 a.m. murder spree with "Poisonous paragraphs smash your phonograph in half." The assault never slows down after that.
Big Ghost goes 100 percent ape-shit crazy, talking about "gorillas injected with strength for 80 midgets" and raunchily boasting, "Pens and gear like Shakespeare/When I fuck, I grab hair, collect drawers as souvenirs." Rae keeps it gully as usual, shouting out convicts ("peace to jail niggas with charges"). GZA, in full elder statesman role, is honored with rhyming last and effortlessly closes the show by "catchin' bodies with cordless shotties." The on-point martial-arts movie samples ("I've got so many styles...forgive me") kill. — Gabriel Alvarez
19. Wu-Tang Clan "Older Gods" (1997)
Album : Wu-Tang Forever
Producer : 4th Disciple
Label : Loud, RCA, BMG
What's fucking with the laundromat sound effects? And what's fucking with Ghost's opening lines? You knew he meant business from the door with classic Ironman bars like: "Ayo, I roll like a bat out of hell/Evil acapells fly spittin' out of my grill/Before I hit the sky with springtime colors/Juicy as a Sunkist, certain broads double dutch this/They carve it in they wrist," and nonsensical acrobatics like, "The old chain and ball technique/Got these vegetable lasagna niggas in they whips jumpin' out they seats/Eighteen, Bronzeman Part II/We like Dorothy Hamil on Ice/We in your hood we might circle." We have no idea what he's talking about but we'll love it and smoke an el to it. — Angel Diaz
18. Wu-Tang Clan "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" (1993)
Album : Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Producer : RZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard
Label : Loud
On this classic track off the album that started it all for the Wu, Ghostface had the second-to-last verse. Taking the baton from Ol' Dirty Bastard, GFK delivers a ferocious verse, his animated flow dropping precise darts. With a flair for the dramatic, Ghost blurts out, "And yo I killed you in a past life." It is zany non sequiturs like this that have made him such a beloved emcee. — Dharmic X
17. GZA f/ Ghostface Killah, Killah Priest & RZA "4th Chamber" (1995)
Album : Liquid Swords
Label : Geffen, MCA
"Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet?" To make innocuous questions like these sound dope in a rap song takes serious skill and charisma. Ghostface clearly had both in large quantities, as he demonstrated in his opening verse on the posse cut for GZA's Liquid Swords. Ghost throws out memorable one-liner upon one-liner over the sinister RZA production, painting vivid pictures in the process. There is also an incredible transformation in Starks' verse, as he goes from sipping Apple Boone while sitting on the corner with his brothers to "sipping rum out of Stanley Cups." Impressive. — Dharmic X
16. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah & Cappadonna "Ice Water" (1995)
Tony Starks takes the first verse of this three-the-hard-way affair from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... , declaring himself "The rap kingpin, the Black Jesus" over an eerie snippet of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." His extravagant stream-of-consciousness braggadoccio evokes images of "jewelry shopping out of the country" and "sex on beaches," in other words: the lavish life. He might get there through his "bionic microphone" skills, although he's also a "smack mechanic" who is not afraid to "murder niggas for lunch." By any means necessary trust and believe he's going to get what he set out to achieve. — Rob Kenner
15. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah, Cappadonna & Method Man "Ice Cream" (1995)
Though it may rank high among hip-hop's most mysogynistic songs, "Ice Cream" is a brilliant display of Ghostace's charm. He comes out swinging on the opening verse, spittin' game at a dime with a shitty attitude that caught his eye. It's human nature to want what you can't have, and it's the cat and mouse game of courting that drives both men and women insane. In a good way, though. Ghost's "high-powered put Adina Howard to sleep" boast is the standout line, mostly because the "Freak Like Me" singer was on everyone's mind in '95. Ghost's lyrics allow you to peep his whole approach: he's that dude that'll say just about anything to bag a girl and not give two shits if she blows him off. The game is the game, so remember ladies, you can have anything in this world—except C.R.E.A.M. True lies, courtesy of Ghostface. — Julian Kimble
14. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "260" (1996)
The Education of Sonny Carson sample in the beginning of this is absolutely everything. And the story is even better. Ironman and the Chef take us on a heist mission over an Al Green sampled RZA beat as they run up in Apt. 260 because they heard they had Os for sale. Ghost starts by telling Rae about the scenery before Lex Diamonds tells the story of how it went down. After running up in the spot equipped with shotties, E&J, and a machete dressed like terrorists, Ghost & Rae end the track by going back and forth as they stick up the tenants and ask where the stash is at. When it's all said and done all they find is a piece of cheese from New Zealand. —Angel Diaz
13. Ghostface Killah "My Guitar" (2003)
Producer : N/A
Label : N/A
This song finds Ghost runnin' up in the spot of a rival dealer named Jack to get him off the block with the quickness. When Ghost starts singing to you, it's time to get worried. "Don't be stupid... don't make me use it," he croons. And the instrument he's talking about is not a guitar. "Actin' like you ain't got fear, nigga you get popped here!/Matter fact, I'm a street doctor, take the shot here!/Blaow." After pumping a slug into Jack's leg and relieving him of his jewelry, Ghost gets ready to finish the job. "So what you leg is bleedin' here, put this in your mouth and/Chew on the barrel of love." After all, he said it wasn't a threat, it was a promise. — Rob Kenner
12. Wu-Tang Clan "Can It Be All So Simple" (1993) / Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah "Can It Be All So Simple (Remix)" (
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah's first duet takes you on a journey to the "good ol' days" when they were "ignorant and mad young" and tells of how they eventually ended up in a life of crime. They use mad slang and various dope methods to describe shit, like when Rae confesses, "Pops was a fiend since 16/Shootin' that 'that's that shit!' in his bloodstream."
The unstoppable duo take time to give shout-outs to Jeeps, Land Cruisers, MPVs, and "niggas who do drive-bys," all while a relentless, thumping bassline and choice vocals from "The Way We Were" by Gladys Knight & the Pips keep listeners enthralled. The remix featured all-new lyrics, an amped-up reworking of the original track, and another well-made cinematic skit on top, this time recounting the early '90s incident when GFK was supposedly shot in the neck and arm for real. — Gabriel Alvarez
11. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "Apollo Kids" (2000)
Producer : Hassan
First of all, Tony was in the video rapping in a robe while eating a vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles on it. That alone should make you love this song. Second of all, he's talking all kinds of sophisticated, fly nonsense on this here, most notably on the hook: "Aiyo, this rap is like ziti, facing me real TV/Crash at high speeds, strawberry kiwi." We don't know what he means and we don't care. Sometimes you have to let legends be great.
Ghost also sent darts at the competition with lines like: "Since the face been revealed, game got real/Radio been gassing niggas, my imposters screaming ill." This was Ghost at his best. "Apollo Kids" had a booming beat courtesy of Hassan (who absolutely murdered it), it featured the Chef, and Tony was rhyming in the signature style that made him a fan favorite. Uh huh, motherfucker, uh huh. — Angel Diaz
10. Raekwon f/ Ghostface Killah "Criminology" (1995)
This was Raekwon and Ghostface's mission statement and thankfully it was anything but preachy. The message came in a barrage of fierce one liners in Ghostface's one verse: "Dealing in my cypher I revolve around science," "Throwing niggas off airplanes cause cash rules," "Swallow this murder one verse like God Degree." With the backing of the Five Percenters' ideology, the duo was coming straight for the kill, and RZA's chest-pounding production certainly helps get that point across. Rae and Starks may call it "Criminology," but others call this another Wu classic. — Brian Josephs
9. Ghostface Killah f/ RZA "Nutmeg" (2000)
Producer : Black Moes-Art
This is it. This was the song that started the revival of the Wu. Up to this point, the Wu-Tang Clan's last great album, Wu-Tang Forever , started to feel ironically titled. The sophomore efforts slumped and the solo debuts were forgettable, leaving many to think that the Wu perhaps may not be forever. Then something strange happens after the Iron Man theme song intro: Ghostface says "What's up, ya'll" as if he hasn't missed a beat. He's already here, and by the end of this opening track to the classic Supreme Clientele , it's apparent that it's actually the listener who has to do the catching up.
Decades later we're still looking for answers. Was this schizophrenic lyricism we were listening to or groups of laser-focused bars? Was the ferocity of that flipped Eddie Holman sample really intentional? But "Nutmeg" was just too much fun to hang ourselves up on those unanswerable questions. This was hilarity pulled off with a believable cocksureness that only Ghostface could pull off.
Ghost literally studied under Bruce Lee, builds Lionel Richie busts (think " Hello ," and will "knock-kneeder Sheeba for hiva"...whatever the hell that means). RZA's verse, which ends with an unsavory reference to the menstrual cycle, was the perfect bookmark to Ghostface's epic, while simultaneously setting off one of the aughts' wildest rides. — Brian Josephs
8. Wu-Tang Clan "The M.G.M." (1997)
Chef and Ghost trade bars over True Master production as they sit in the stands of a Julio Cesar Chavez/Pernell Whitaker fight at the M.G.M. in Vegas. As they people watch, they name drop the celebs and hustlers in the building. Ghost was rocking some "fly Gucci mocks with no socks on" and Rae was "leathered down, blinking at Chante Moore."
Deion Sanders was also in attendance, wearing a fur and trying to get at some fly girls with Wu shirts on and Liz Clairborne had some popcorn fall on her. These two can be compared to some of the greatest authors in literature, true poets. Ghost and Rae make you feel like you're sitting in the seats behind them. Don't be afraid to ask if you could hit one of those blunts they rolled. — Angel Diaz
7. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "Motherless Child" (1996)
After a brief intro verse from the Chef Raekwon, Ghostface goes in with a wild story for the second verse. Starks spins a tale of a stick-up at the Albee Square Mall that ends in a glorious gunfight. The story is engaging not just because of the action involved, but also because of how descriptive the verse is, down to the favorite song of one of the main characters ("I Miss You" by Aaron Hall). Listening to the words and the choppy flow, the listener can feel the tension from the encounter. At the end of the day, Ghost is demonstrating the crazy antics that motherless children get into, with only a vague reference to the theme near the beginning of the verse. — Dharmic X
6. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon "The Watch" (2001)
Blame Barry White. "The Watch" was slated to appear on Bulletproof Wallets, but clearing a sample of the overweight lover's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby" proved impossible. Which is a damn shame, as the "The Watch" is one of Ghost's best (and strangest) songs. What's this song about, really? Is the MC really threatening his timepiece? Is he so disappointed in the mechanism because it nearly drowned in a bowl of Corn Pops?
In all likelihood, the watch is a metaphor for Ghost's timeliness. Or lack thereof, let Raekwon tell it—his verse teases his partner in rhyme for his lack of radioplay. Rae tries to explain that it's just meaningless ball-busting, prompting Ghost to tell him, "I will destroy you." His delivery is so straight, so earnest, it's one of the most convincing (and hilarious) declarations in all of rap.
But mostly "The Watch" is great in the way that many of Ghostface's songs are great: It charges head-on into a weird concept—a conversation with a watch—that might be allegorical, might just be insane, but is certainly unlike anything else. — Ross Scarano
5. Ghostface Killah f/ Raekwon, Cappadonna & The Force M.D.'s "Daytona 500" (1996)
RZA decided to use one of hip-hop's most sampled songs in Bob James' "Nautilus." The drums, baseline, the kick, the loop, all equal up to one of his finest beats. Rae, Ghost, and Cappadonna all deliver primo verses, but it was Tony's offering that shined. He compared his mercury raps to Richard Nixon while "slaying all these Earthlings and fake foreigners" with his flaming pen. Then he tells us that he "slap-boxed with Jesus" and "licked shots at Joseph," among other anecdotes and metaphors only the Ghostface Killah could come up with. If only we can do forever shit like pissing out windows on turnpikes, we would be as cool as Tony. — Angel Diaz
4. Ghostface Killah "One" (2000)
Producer : Juju
"To glorious days," says GFK early on "One," and you can feel him on that. This celebratory hymn is like picturing the heavens opening up and sunbeams escaping towards Earth. Juju from the Beatnuts blesses Supreme Clientele with this magnificent track that compels Ghost to spit one of his most entertaining and insightful choruses: "Ayo, the Devil planted fear inside the black babies/Fifty cent sodas in the 'hood, they goin' crazy/Dead meat placed on the shelves, we eat cold cuts/Fast from the hog, y'all, and grow up!" Starks' synergy continues, this time braggin' about bizarre shit like "dickin' down Oprah" and having fun with the recurring "One" sample ("How many girls you got fucked, yo?" "One!" "That's it?"). — Gabriel Alvarez
3. Wu-Tang Clan "Impossible" (1997)
Producer : 4th Disciple, RZA
Ghost's verse on this cut off of Wu-Tang's double CD is one of his most detailed. He takes you through a horrific scene that happens way too often in ghettos across America. While his childhood friend Jamie lies on the pavement fighting for his life after being shot, Ghost tries to keep him alive by talking to him about his 3-year-old daughter Keeba. He then starts to reminisce about the old days spitting, "When we was eight, we went to Bat Day to see the Yanks/In '69, his father and mines, they robbed banks."
Ghost then takes us back to the scene saying, "He pointed to the charm on his neck/With his last bit of energy left/told me rock it with respect/I opened it, seen the god holdin' his kids/Photogenic, tears just burst out my wig." And then Jamie's mother sees her son laying on the blood-soaked pavement, she kisses him just when the ambulance arrives. He was pronounced dead at 12:10 ya'll. It's hard not to get chills and feel like you're behind the yellow tape witnessing the drama. — Angel Diaz
2. Ghostface Killah f/ Mary J. Blige "All That I Got Is You" (1996)
Even though Ghost always had the innate ability to tell a story with details so vivid you could almost taste the big round onions on the T-bone steak, he often skewed away from autobiographical detail beyond his drug dealing past. Instead, he hid behind the mask of his Tony Starks persona. But on "All That I Got Is You" he lays it all bare, creating what is easily his realest song ever.
Instead of inventing elaborate details about drug kingpins, he spoke from the heart about the humiliating details of poverty: Sharing spoons to eat cereal, siblings who wet the bed, eating free lunch. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five may have showed us the broken glass in the ghetto, but Ghost took us inside the apartment past the pissed on staircase.
It wasn't Ghost's sentiment that made the song special; many rappers have talked about living the hard knock life. But lines like, "There was days I had to go to Tex house with a note/Stating 'Gloria can I borrow some food I'm dead broke,'" that were unequivocally heartbreaking. Yet Ghost isn't filled with anger or sadness, instead by the end he refers to his childhood as, "What made me the man I am today." — Insanul Ahmed
1. Ghostface Killah "Mighty Healthy" (2000)
This had all the elements of a Ghostface song: an old kung-fu movie sample, a hard ass beat, and Ghost's slippery lyrics. The song starts out with a haunting beat behind dialogue from the 1979 Shaw Brothers classic, Shaolin Rescuers. The Almighty GFK floated on this thing, spittin' shit like: "Ringleader set it off, rap Derek Jeter/Culprit, prince of the game wish you could see us." And buttery biscuits like: "Priceless ropes, lay around the god get tangled/Woolly hair, eyes firey red, feet made of brass/Twelve men following me, it be the god's staff." Sampling everybody from James Brown to Biz Markie, Mathmatics was in rare form when he cooked this beat up. It makes you feel like you're in a Stapleton project hallway. — Angel Diaz
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Top 15 Ghostface Killah Songs
Ghostface Killah without a doubt is Wu-Tang Clan’s most prolific member, and he always was Wu’s most consistent solo artist. For this list, we selected our top 15 Ghostface Killah songs from Ghostface’s solo albums – so none from the Wu-Tang albums, nor any from his numerous guest appearances on fellow Wu members’ work. Limiting the selection to his solo catalog and selecting no more than 15 songs, still makes it practically impossible to do justice to the man’s incredible output. We tried anyway and went with our top 15 Ghostface Killah songs. Are your favorites missing? Let us know in the comments!
15. Run ft Jadakiss & Comp (2004)
“Aiyo, I jumped from the 8th floor, step, hit the ground / The pound fell, cops is coming / Running through the pissy stairwells, I ain’t hear nothin’ / Buggin’, only thing I remember was the bullsh** summons…”
With its menacing RZA beat and an excellent guest spot by Jadakiss, “Run” arguably is the best track off The Pretty Toney Album , the fourth and somewhat underrated Ghostface Killah solo album.
14. Child's Play (2000)
“Pretty little Sally sat up by the tree trunk / White miniskirt with a Betty Boop bum / She had an a** like Deborah Cox, face like Lauryn / Waist like a Coke bottles scoring…”
Unlike most of his fellow Wu-Tang Clan members, Ghostface Killah more than succeeded in matching the quality of his debut album with a sophomore release. In fact, with Supreme Clientele he arguably even surpassed the quality of his excellent Iron Man debut.
From Supreme Clientele (in addition to the ones we DID include) we could also easily have included tracks like “The Grain”, “Buck 50”, “Cherchez La Ghost” and “Nutmeg” on this list – we elected to go with “Child’s Play” however, a retrospective look at Ghostface’s youth which shines with Ghostface’s personality and charisma. An underrated cut from an album packed with classic jams.
12. Kilo ft Raekwon (2006)
“Bricks, tar caps, powder, cooked up crack / Phones is tapped over franklin’s stacks…”
One of the many stand-out tracks off Ghostface Killah’s fifth album Fishscale, without a doubt one of his best.
11. Murder Spree ft. U-God, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck & Killa Sin (2013)
“Yeah, yo, there’s a dozen ways to die, six million ways to do it / Let’s go through it, my mind flow like fluid…”
From Twelve Reasons To Die – Ghostface’s underappreciated concept album collaboration with producer extraordinaire Adrian Younge – this track is one the highlights.
11. Malcolm (2000)
“I’m like Malcolm out the window with the joint / Hoodied up blood in my eye, I let two fly…”
Another one of the stand-outs from arguably Ghostface’s best album, Supreme Clientele . On this track envisions himself as Malcolm X, and disses shiny suit Puffy rapper Ma$e at the same time, over a dope beat provided by Choo.
10. 9 Milli Bros. ft. Wu-Tang Clan (2006)
“Y’all be nice to the crackheads, everybody listen up / I shot one of my b*tches, the ho ain’t trick enough / Word life to big screen Don, tapping dustbones out / With star writers like I f***ed Celine Dion…”
Ghostface gets the whole Wu-Tang Clan together for this dope posse cut off of the highly acclaimed Fishscale album, even the late ODB is made part of this banger.
9. Iron Maiden ft Cappadonna & Raekwon (1996)
“Tremendously obnoxious, no blotches / My telephone watch’ll leave bartenders topless…”
The opening track from the classic Iron Man is one of the best songs on the album: great beat and flow, with Ghost’s trademark abstract lyrics and metaphors.
8. Wu Banga 101 ft Raekwon, Masta Killa, GZA & Cappadonna (2000)
“Me I turn a wedding into hoax / Roses tied to bombs on posts…”
“Wu Banga 101” is just one of the dope posse cuts on Supreme Clientele , included on this list because of excellent lyrical performances from all involved and especially because of the epic Allah Math beat, a great reminder of the 36 Chambers days.
7. Emergency Procedure ft Pharoahe Monch (2014)
“Doctor X enter the crib, worked on the kid / Created a mask that allowed me to breathe / But couldn’t extract the chemicals from my body / Poisonous lethal doses, comatosis / In and out of conscious, drugs is ferocious…”
“Emergency Procedure” is just one of the many dope tracks from Ghostface’s 2014 album 36 Seasons. “Blood In The Streets”, “Here I Go Again”, “Double Cross”, “The Battlefield” and “Love Don’t Live Here No More” are all tracks that deserve to be on this list as well. 36 Seasons surely is one of Ghostface’s best albums. It features fantastic contributions from the likes of AZ and Kool G Rap, this particular track has Pharaohe Monch dropping a signature brilliant verse.
6. One (2000)
“Modern-day slave God, graveyard spells, fog your goggles / Laying like needles in the hospital / Five steps to conquer, ask Bernadette, Baguette swizzle / Ziploc your ear, hear thistle…”
One of the centerpieces of the all-time classic Supreme Clientele . Beatnuts’ Juju provides the brilliant instrumental, and as usual, Ghostface delivers an exceptional lyrical performance. Signature Ghostface Killah.
5. Mighty Healthy (2000)
“Both hands clusty , chilling with my man Rusty / Low down, blew off the burner kinda dusty / The world can’t touch Ghost, purple tape, Rae co-host…”
Another one of the singles off the monumental Supreme Clientele . Ghostface kills it over a classic drumbeat, produced by Mathematics.
4. Shakey Dog (2006)
“Yo, making moves back and forth uptown / 60 dollars plus toll is the cab fee / Wintertime bubble goose, goose, clouds of smoke / Music blastin’ and the Arab V blunted…”
Ghostface Killah in top form. Lewis Parker laid down an epic beat with the use of a dope old school sample for Ghostface to get loose on – straight cinematic storytelling, with no hook, about a robbery not going as planned.
3. Daytona 500 ft Raekwon & Cappadonna (1996)
“Mercury raps is roughed then God just shown like taps / Red and white Wally’s that match, bend my baseball hat / Doing forever sh** like pissing out the window on turnpikes / Robbing n****s for leathers, high swiping on dirt bikes…”
Another amazing track from Ghostface’s classic Iron Man debut album, containing a nice intro and hook by The Force MD’s and dope cameos by Raekwon and Cappadonna, with one of his best verses to date – all over a brilliant, pulsating RZA beat.
2. Apollo Kids ft Raekwon (2000)
“I’m the inventor, ’86 rhyming at the center / Debut ’93 LP told you to enter…”
Ghostface and Raekwon once again complement each other perfectly with their trademark abstract but tight verses, over a crowd moving beat. The perfect lead single for Supreme Clientele .
1. All That I Got Is You ft Mary J Blige / Tekitha (1996)
“Check it, fifteen of us in a three-bedroom apartment / Roaches everywhere, cousins and aunts was there / Four in the bed, two at the foot, two at the head / I didn’t like to sleep with Jon-Jon he peed the bed / Seven o’clock, pluckin’ roaches out the cereal box / Some shared the same spoon, watchin’ Saturday cartoons / Sugar water was our thing, every meal was no frills / In the summer, free lunch held us down like steel…”
In this heartbreakingly beautiful autobiographical song, Ghost tells the story of his impoverished childhood and the struggles growing up. He raps about how he grew up in a three-bedroom apartment without his father who left him at the age of six. Growing up poor he experienced hard living conditions like “Pluckin’ roaches out the cereal box. ” The album version featured Mary J Blige, the video version regular Wu-Tang collaborator Tekitha. “All That I Got Is You” is an absolute Hip Hop classic.
Written by HHGA Staff
Classic hip hop: ghostface killah's supreme clientele, ghostface killah "all that i got is you" (1996), ghostface killah "apollo kids" ft raekwon (1999), one response to “top 15 ghostface killah songs”.
Where’s Buck50 should be#1 but it aint even on the list? The Hilton one of the best story/raps ever. Smh this list needs work.
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Tonight (feat. D-Block Europe & OBOY) - Single
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Sarah Linnea Nova Klang, (born 26 August 1992) is a Swedish singer and songwriter. She has released one top peaking music album, and performed at På spåret, and in the music festival South by Southwest. She is also a Grammis-award winner in the category "Alternative Pop of the Year". more »
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Written by: Sarah Klang, Theodor Stocks
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Where To Listen To The Totally Killer Soundtrack
The Totally Killer soundtrack — featuring all songs — is available to listen to on Spotify and Amazon Music . However, while the songs listed above are on the soundtrack, they appear alongside other songs on the playlists, as Prime Video has not released an official Totally Killer soundtrack for purchase. But since the film uses popular songs, they’re not hard to find online or on any individual music streaming service.
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The 20 greatest Ghost songs – ranked
From Opus Eponymous to Prequelle, we rank the greatest compositions from Ghost.
Undoubtedly the breakout band in heavy music over the past decade, it’s been a wild ride for Swedish creeps Ghost . Melding elements of hard rock, doom, classic metal, psychedelia and outright guitar-pop – then daubing on the corpsepaint – their combination of deceptively digestible sound, occultist ethos and anti-ecumenical aesthetic has captured the imagination of music fans and sling-shotted their live 'rituals' into arenas on both sides of the Atlantic.
Of course, mysterious mainman Tobias Forge (aka Papa Emeritus I-IV, aka Cardinal Copia) has had his struggles. In 2013, the band was forced to temporarily rebrand as Ghost B.C. for legal reasons in the U.S. The initially intriguing, fluid anonymity of his bandmates’ Nameless Ghoul personas (even Dave Grohl apparently once donned the cowl) became a sticking point, too, as the collective sued Tobias in 2017, failing in their suit but also dispelling some of the precious mystique.
That Tobias has endured – not just surviving, but flamboyantly thriving in the heightened spotlight – feels like proof his band are here to stay. New music is eagerly anticipated in the not-so-distant future but, for now, we rank the 20 tracks on which Ghost have built their unholy empire thus far...
20 Mummy Dust (Meliora, 2015)
‘I was carried on a wolf's back, to corrupt humanity / I will pummel it with opulence, with corpulence and greed!’ Arriving on a wave of staccato percussion, spiked with gnarls of riffage and flashes of synth, this pounding cut from 2015’s Meliora – named after the insubstantial detritus of years past – plays out as one of Ghost’s most compelling indictments of the avarice of mankind. Although its creeping instrumentation, growled baritone and choral climax don’t exactly show the Swedes at their most inventive, Mummy Dust has been elevated massively in the live arena, with Papa leaning into the lurching malevolence before showering the audience with 'money'. In Ghost we trust.
19 Witch Image (Prequelle, 2018)
Ghost might have traversed a full spectrum from gouging metal via classic rock to shimmering guitar-pop thus far, but the further their sound has strayed into the light, the harder the lyrics have drilled down into darkness. It’s never been truer than on this underrated ditty from Prequelle . A textbook three-and-a-half-minutes built of sweet acoustic and rich electric guitars surging towards its massive chorus, you can practically taste the relish as Tobias ladles the syrup onto some of his darkest words. ‘While you sleep in earthly delight, someone's flesh is rotting tonight / Like no other to you, what you've done you can not undo...’
18 Con Clavi Con Dio (Opus Eponymous, 2010)
After the baroque organ intro of Deus Culpa, it’s the throbbing bassline of Con Clavi Con Dio that truly pulls back the sacristy drapes on Ghost’s compelling debut. Translating crudely as 'With Nails, With God', the title Con Clavi Con Dio is actually an attempt at clever wordplay, drawing comparisons with the nails of crucifixion and the conclave of bishops at the head of the church as Tobias sings, ‘Our conjuration sings infernal psalms and smear the smudge in bleeding palms.’ Theological musing aside, it’s the dark swirl of sound here that truly draws the listener in, with gauzy layers of guitar, synth and vocals – not to mention the devilish tritone interval – building into a towering cathedral of subversion.
17 Faith (Prequelle, 2018)
No relation to the oft-covered George Michael classic, the fourth single from 2018’s Prequelle feels like a defiant statement of the band’s arena-straddling prowess twelve years in. Powered by snarling six-strings and pounding drums – custom engineered to get tens of thousands of fists pumping – it’s seething proof that this band’s heaviest sounds are still among their best. At the same time, we get a furious flash of the man behind the mask as Tobias takes aim at his ex-Nameless Ghouls with some serious lyrical barbs: ‘The Luddites shun the diabolical, a fecal trail across the land / Although it stinks, feels and looks identical / And a pack of fools can take the stand.’ Oooft.
16 Per Aspera Ad Inferni (Infestissumam, 2013)
Riffing on the popular Latin phrase 'Per aspera ad astra' ('Through hardship to the stars'), Per Aspera Ad Infini literally translates as 'Through Hardships To Hell.' Its churning sound diabolically matches up. Layering on riffage that calls to mind the epic doom of heroes like Candlemass , marching-beat percussion and a lyrical treatment revolving around that title chanted as a mantra, there is sinisterness throughout. Its defining quality, however, is the fragility and despair Tobias manages to summon as he begs with ecstatic fervour, ‘Oh Satan, devour us all / Hear our desperate call.’
15 Secular Haze (Infestissumam, 2013)
The lead single from 2013’s sophomore LP Infestissumam immediately built on the spooky foundations laid by Opus Eponymous with broader pantomime atmospherics and – on its live premiere in Linköping, Sweden, where Papa Emeritus II was unveiled – the first branches of their expanded mythos. A carnivalesque organ sets the tone of mischievous eeriness before the pendulous musicality hits full swing with Papa inviting us in: ‘You know that the fog is here omnipresent when the disease sees no cure / You know that the fog is here omnipresent when the intents remain obscure – forevermore!’ As if their mainstream-invading intent wasn’t clear enough, its single release even came with a B-side cover of ABBA’s I’m A Marionette featuring Dave Grohl on drums!
14 See The Light (Prequelle, 2018)
Another barely-veiled reference to Tobias’ struggles with ex-bandmates, See The Light is also one of his band’s most shamelessly uplifting compositions. Feeling like a positivist '80s anthem – shot through with a little venom – its tinkling keys, soaring synths and understated, rumbling riffage propel an effortlessly memorable message about transcending the ill-will of one’s antagonists. Sing it together: ‘Every day that you feed me with hate, I grow stronger!’
13 Deus In Absentia (Meliora, 2015)
Riding on the metronomic beat of their Monstrance Clock, the closer on Ghost’s third album (translated from Latin as 'In The Absence Of God') is an extravagant exercise in arch theatrics. Benefiting from Klas Åhlund’s grandiose production, Tobias comes across as both demon and angel, extending his dark invitation: ‘The world is on fire, and you are here to stay and burn with me / A funeral pyre, and we are here to revel forever.’ Concluding with a hymn-like Latin chorus, it feels like the ultimate corruptive culmination: a musical sacrament truly touching only to those in the know.
12 Stand By Him (Opus Eponymous, 2010)
The track that started it all. Inspired by that irresistible lead riff – stumbled upon while practising for another band – Tobias foresaw a deep, dark well of potential waiting to be tapped and threw himself in headlong. Although Stand By Him’s schlocky lyrics feel gleefully on-the-chin nowadays ( ‘The Devil's power is the greatest one / When His' and Hers' holiest shuns the sun / A temptress smitten by the blackest force / A vicar bitten blind in intercourse’ ), they paved the way for everything that followed. On top of that, its soaring ‘ It is the night of the witch...’ chorus line even rivals that of Donovan’s Season Of The Witch (an obvious influence) for sheer spellbinding catchiness.
11 Ghuleh/Zombie Queen (Infestissumam, 2013)
One of the less immediate tracks on Ghost’s second album was also its most important. A staggering, seven-and-a-half minute opus that unfolds from its sorrowing piano line and Papa’s desiccated hiss through a swaggering midsection to a conclusion full of proggy bombast; this was proof of the untold breadth and depth of their vision and sound. Pushing from their basis in '80s classic rock through the looser sounds of the '70s and right into '60s psychedelia, this ode to the titular zombie queen ( ‘Up from the stinking dirt she rises, ghastly pale / Shape-shifting soon but now she's rigid, stiff and stale’ ) feels like Tobias’ first real attempt to stretch his (cursed black) wings and remains amongst their most rewarding compositions.
10 Ritual (Opus Eponymous, 2010)
Anyone who remembers Ghost’s ethereal emergence from the shadows likely does so with this earworm writhing in the back of their mind. Combining the slick melodies and wry fatalism of prime Blue Öyster Cult with the crunchiness of Pentagram and Saint Vitus – soothing organs and a driving bassline pulling away – they had the musical formula nailed. It was the imagery contained therein, however (all ‘bedouins and nomads’ , fallen angels and ‘smells of dead human sacrifices from the altar bed’ ) that captured the imaginations of a congregation ravenous for a fresh take on ancient evil. Here, the doors to the sanctum were truly open.
9 Year Zero (Infestissumam, 2013)
Tying into the Ghost B.C. renaming necessitated by their Stateside legal wranglings (the year zero being the pivotal point between the B.C. and A.D. timelines), Infestissumam’s sixth track developed into one of the greatest showcases of their dark majesty. Opening with a powerful Gregorian chant ( ‘Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, Lucifer’ ) calling to mind Jerry Goldsmith’s legendary soundtrack to The Omen, Ave Satana, the direct riffage and bludgeoning choruses that follow hammer home a sense of sheer monstrosity. Typically, the Year Zero concept is subverted, with Forge (and, reportedly, guitarist Martin Persner) picturing an ancient antagonist far predating biblical times: ‘Since dawn of time the fate of man is that of lice, equal as parasites and moving without eyes / A day of reckoning when penance is to burn, count down together now and say the words that you will learn.’
8 Miasma (Prequelle, 2018)
Just when you think you’ve got Ghost figured out, they pull something like this. The first of Prequelle’s two extended instrumentals feels like showboating from an outfit whose legitimacy some fans had dared question following the acrimonious departure of so many players. Rearing into view as an expansively primitive space-rock soundscape, layering up into an '80s prog epic, then exploding in a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of synths, Michael Jackson riffs and the best metal saxophone this side of Norway’s Shining, it was proof that Tobias’ vision would not be dictated solely by his own crooning King Diamond fixation and that it, frankly, knew no bounds.
7 Elizabeth (Opus Eponymous, 2010)
Four years since their formation, Elizabeth felt like the break Ghost had been waiting for. Released on 7” vinyl (with the less-ear-catching Death Knell on B-side), the Mercyful Fate comparisons were immediate, with many seeing the sense of eerie grandeur and kitsch luridity at play as directly descended from the great Danes’ 1987 classic Devil Eyes. An ode to infamous Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory – alleged serial killer and bloodbather – sees Papa getting his teeth sunk in lyrically: ‘Her pact with Satan, her disposal of mankind / Her acts of cruelty and her lust for blood makes her one of us!’ The fine balance between sensuality and sin has yet to be bettered.
6 Rats (Prequelle, 2018)
The lead single from 2018’s Prequelle feels like a bridge between the (relative) heaviness of the band’s past and the unfettered theatricality of the album that was about to follow. Powered by a straightforward riff and piercing organs, dazzling solos and a rogue harpsichord, its introduction of the Black Death concept in which the album would wallow (refracting contemporary grievances through the filthy lens of the 14th century bubonic plague) felt both atmospherically appropriate and deliciously alive. The Scandi-pop ‘oooh-aahs’ in the chorus remain one of the band’s most gleefully irreverent touches, too. And the question of whether ‘them filthy rodents still coming for your souls’ is reference to Tobias’ old bandmates has provided rich fuel to keep the metal gossip mill turning.
5 Monstrance Clock (Infestissumam, 2013)
In the Roman Catholic church, the monstrance is an (often ornate) receptacle in which the consecrated communion host is displayed for veneration. A monstrance clock was an aesthetically-similar Renaissance-era timekeeping device capable of displaying date, time and a wealth of other celestial information, often used in church rituals. We suspect that Ghost just liked the faintly cheeky sound of the phrase when quickly spoken. Still, the song they wrought from that initial giggle is utterly unforgettable. Deliberately paced and overflowing with evangelical zeal, a slow build flourishes into a splendiferous closing chorus that’s turned many an arena into a church of the Dark Lord: ‘Come together, together as one / Come together for Lucifer's son!’
4 Dance Macabre (Prequelle, 2018)
If Rats was pandering somewhat to the existing fanbase, Dance Macabre was the other side of the coin. A shamelessly retro '80s-style power ballad that’s as light on overt Satanic references as it is heavy on the cheese, some fans saw it as a form of selling-out: a dilution of devilish imagery in service of greater American radio-rock appeal. Perhaps they had a point. From its fist-pumping percussion and effervescent guitar solo to that ‘wanna, be wit chu’ chorus hook, however, it’s executed with enough committed precision and knowing panache to stand on its own terms, and a whole legion of new fans couldn’t help be swept along through the gateway and on to far darker delights. Tobias’ explanation that this is a soundtrack for people living like there’s no tomorrow – as many literally did during the plague – adds an extra dimension. Best experienced with the gleefuly vampiric music video.
3 Cirice (Meliora, 2015)
It’s strange how things work out sometimes. Originally conceived with producer Klas Åhlund as a nine-minute instrumental deep cut, Cirice was chopped down and reworked into Meliora’s irresistible lead single – becoming the song that really kickstarted Ghost’s stratospheric ascent. An insidious opening combusts into an infernal crescendo before lurching into the band’s most bludgeoning riff to date. All the while, Papa’s beguiling vocals reach out, full of dark romance, for new converts to their corrupted congregation. 2016’s GRAMMY for Best Metal Performance felt like just reward for such inspired work. The Roboshobo-directed music video – featuring a school talent show that’s almost as horrific as the ones we remember – is another stone cold standout.
2 Square Hammer (Popestar, 2016)
Following the unprecedented success of Meliora, Ghost found themselves suddenly commanding crowds far larger – and more diverse – than they’d seen before. Most of the ingredients for these grander live rituals were already in place, but they lacked the barn-burner early in their set to get these massive rooms onside. Dropped as the standalone original track on the Popestar covers EP, Square Hammer gave them just that. Abstractly melding the cultist themes of Satanism and Freemasonry, the concept of selling one’s soul – ‘ready to swear right here, right now, before the devil’ – was hardly new, but the outright pop energy of those surging synths and that exuberant chorus clearly signalled that the game had changed.
1 He Is (Meliora, 2015)
If Ghost’s diabolical mission statement is to make the Luciferian ideals more palatable to the masses, then He Is must be their masterpiece. So perfectly camouflaged – with twanging acoustic guitars and reverberating vocals that could’ve been nicked from the golden age of AOR – is their message, that they could drop this at any Christian rock festival and only the most switched-on devotees would know the difference. Openly indebted to giants like Kansas and Journey (and less openly to more recent occult acoustic acts like Ancient VVisdom), there’s a burning light to the sound. The use of divine-sounding Latin ( ‘Nostro Dispater, nostr'alma mater’ ) to identify the titular 'He' as the dark lord of the underworld is just another characteristically twisted masterstroke. Kneel at their altar.
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Every Ghost Song Ranked From Worst to Best
Ghost exploit the music of the church to create a weapon against itself. By utilizing the dynamics of religious hymns, Ghost inject their Satanism not with the point of a needle, but with the secrecy of a mosquito. A scourge in the guise of sanctity, Ghost have compiled the strongest metal discography of the 2010s, and we’ve gone through each original track to rank the best of the beast.
Ghost have never made the same album twice, creating an “apples and oranges” situation. Comparing the raw occult power of “Con Clavi Con Dio” to the flamboyant “Pro Memoria” is a twisted task we challenged ourselves to complete, so with 37 total songs to deconstruct, let’s walk the left-hand path from least to most glorious.