Def Jam - 2004

As one of New York's legendary Wu-Tang Clan you cannot doubt Ghostface's pedigree. But a string of indifferent releases has diminished the Wu-Tang imprint, leaving many Clan-members of them adrift in a rap scene that has moved on to new sounds and style.

Ghostface Killer has shown a canny ability to reinvent himself, moving on from being Raekwon's sidekick to several new roles. Firstly, he's a grit-merchant for hire, bringing his street sensibility to lightweight R'n'B and hip-hop tracks like Marc Ronson's 'Oh Wee' and 411's 'On My Knees'. Secondly, he's pitched himself as the soul of the Wu-Tang, delivering his ultra-personal raps over entire tracks by respected seventies soul acts like the Delfonics and Isaac Hayes.

'The Pretty Toney Album' is firmly in the latter tradition, with a soul-drenched sound that is a long way from the minor-key symphonies that made us fall in love with the Wu-Tang Clan. Ghostface's formidable charisma makes him an essential presence on the microphone and the production rarely hits a bum note, with 'Metal Lungies' showing some of that ole Wu Tang grind, and 'It's Over', 'Holla' and 'Be This Way' being the pick of the soul-karaoke numbers.

The only downside is the absence of other Clan members; for all Ghostface's skills, a few contributions from Inspectah Deck, GZA or old sparring partner Raekwon would not have hurt.

But still, 'The Pretty Toney Album' is a magnificently twisted love-letter to the days of epic soul and stands head and shoulders above your standard rap release.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Intro - Biscuits - Kunta Fly Sh** - Beat The Clock - Metal Lungies - Bathtub Skit - Save Me Dear - It's Over - Keisha's House Skit - Tush - Last Night Skit - Holla - GhostFace - Be This Way - The Letter Skit - Tooken Back - Run - Love