“Usually a producer comes in, makes a beat, mixes it, and gives the direction for it. But not with this album. That’s why you get that special sound. I just needle and threaded the beats all together.” (RZA, The Source Magazine, March 2000)
3 years earlier… (1997, after Wu-Tang Forever)
RZA vowed that the next Wu album wasn’t coming out until the year 2000. He promised a flood of music would be coming on the long road to the group’s third album – The W, that they did, Cappadonna released The Pillage. Wu-Tang Killah Beez hit you with The Swarm. Sunz Of Man told you that The First Shall Be Last and The Last Shall Be First. Inspectah Deck supplied that Uncontrolled Substance. The Chef changed his ingredients and came with Immobilarity. GZA took his fans Beneath The Surface. Killah Priest was on that Heavy Mental. Method Man counted down to Judgment Day and Blackout in the process. U-God was seeking Redemption, RZA hit a blunt and turned into Superhero – Bobby Digital In Stereo, and Ol’Dirty Bastard thought N!&&@ Please when Puff Daddy won best hip hop album.
While the die-hard Wu fans appreciate these albums a lot more now, there was no denying that the dominance the Wu once had were diminished somewhat. Now fans were turning to No Limit, Ruff Ryders & Cash Money, some even turned to House & Garage, and had the nerve to tell me that the Wu had fallen off and House & Garage is where it’s at.
This was the era of Moschino and Armani Jeans. The era where it was cool to be ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’, when buying fake roses from dodgy people just to pull a girl was cool, and no one was without a customised Nokia 702 complete with a ringtone, competing against each other on the game ‘snakes’. I used to roll into clubs blatantly with baggy Roc-A-Wear jeans and Southpole shirts. I was with a female companion at this time…. then on February 14, 2000… that was the day everything changed….
THIS IS MY STORY ON MY FAVOURITE ALBUM OF ALL TIME.
Ghostface Killah’s sophomore album ‘Supreme Clientele’ was released January 25, 2000 under Epic Records. But since my ‘then lady’ failed in her efforts to get me this album on Valentines Day, I kicked her to the kerb and brought the album myself. Am I cruel and cold-blooded for that? Not if your first love is HIP HOP. February 14, 2000, I walked into HMV, marched right to the Hip Hop section, grabbed the album, paid the bearer on demand the sum of £13.99, took the album home, listened to it, loved it. Best Valentines Day ever.
15 years later, I write this story for you, and take an in-depth look of how Ghostface Killah became – my favourite artist of ALL TIME, and it all surrounded this album.
Let’s start the album right! I recall a friend on my Facebook saying on his status – ‘are intros important in an album’… the answer is an emphatic YES. It sets the tone, the mood, and what the album is going to bring. In my opinion, if fans skip intros and go straight to the songs, chances are they will criticise the album. De La Soul ‘invented’ skits, they are pioneers in this rap thing. So for people to just skip the intros/skits on first listen? It’s up to them but it’s ignorant in my opinion.
The intro tells the story of how Ironman has an injured heart but continues to do what he do. In this case Ghost has taken it upon himself to fly the flag of the clan to reclaim that dominance they once had.
This tune dropped – I lost my mind. I didn’t know why it was even called Nutmeg. All I knew was – my head was boppin, but it was in a circular motion for four minutes with brief rest periods! Gritting my teeth, squeezing my eyelids tight, goosebumps all over. This is straight vicious, then RZA had to come in on the third verse… UNREASONABLE!!!! Remember – They studied under Bruce Lee! He was on the fourth, they was on the third!
JuJu you are crazy for this ONE!!! This is one of the many tunes that RZA was referring to, where he says he added that special Wu-Tang sound to it. Did you use to play that game with your fellow Wu-Tang fans where you came up with a question and every time that answer would be – ONE!!!! I know I did!
4. SATURDAY NITE
I remember playing this album while getting ready to go out…I set it at random, but this track would be the first to play… grab the iron board, press out my shirt and trousers (see back then you had to dress SMART to go out to clubs). Freshen up, hair trimmed… and ready to party with the women out there… Yeah your boy was a bad bugger back then!
5. GHOST DEINI
The funny thing about this track was I didn’t know there was an original version, and that’s the version Ghost performs at his shows. So I consider the album version a ‘remix’. The original version had an instrumental used in a track by the Ruthless Bastards on the Wu-Tang Killah Beez The Swarm Vol 1 album. The original version had more of a haunting, ‘Tomorrow’s World’ kinda vibe to it. If you remember the show Tomorrow’s world, you would know what I mean with the shows theme music.
6. APOLLO KIDS
This is the tune/video that did it for me and solidified Ghostface Killah as my favourite artist of all time. One night watching MTV, suddenly this video appears… I nearly broke the VCR rushing to get the tape in and hit record. What I saw was a triumphant track, a man in a robe rhyming with an ice cream in his hand, who played the boss man of a Wally Clark factory and threw wack shoes off the assembly line, and his business boomed to the point he was able to party with nice women alongside his Wu-Brother Chef Raekwon both sporting championship belts… but as I’m more of a wrestling fan than a boxing fan, it filled me with joy when I saw Ghost rocking the World Heavyweight Championship belt. That video put me in a state of mind where I felt like a champion when I was out there partying. A tune so epic that he named his later albums after it in 2010.
7. THE GRAIN
The moment I heard this, Busta Rhymes ‘Rhymes Galore’ popped in my head… not realising that this was sampled before. Ghost & RZA also bring their ODB element in this track flipping the lyrics ODB sang in ‘Don’t U Know’. That head nod that I explained in ‘Nutmeg’ occurs again for me. Ok this is the part where my neck starts hurting!
8. BUCK 50
The first of two posse cuts on the album. Apart from Method Man’s album, it was a wonderful feeling to see Redman appear on a Wu solo album, even better over a RZA beat as well. For such a critically acclaimed album, I wished more videos were released from it, and this is one of them. But it’s that jaw dropping moment when Ghostface flips that famous Mary Poppins line backwards and does it without flinching over a frantic RZA flow! “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious –
9. MIGHTY HEALTHY
Classic beyond belief. You can hate on Kanye West all you want, yes he is a bit of a nutcase… but you cannot deny his musical genius. Where am I going with this you ask?
Kanye knows G.O.O.D. music… let’s be real. He took the Allah Mathematics produced banger, and recreated it into 2012 with a New God Flow. It was only right that Ghostface himself laced the track in the end… it would be criminal not to!
10. WOODROW THE BASE HEAD
Everyone knows that familiar crack head around the block! God Bless them, but they do have that annoying factor that makes you wanna knock them the f**k out! But will it do any good? ‘Crack Rules Everything Around Me’… wow… these days I miss the art of skits… put the album on, there’s no story. Just a body of work.
11. STAY TRUE
Who flipped it better? Inspectah Deck or Ghostface Killah? Such a hard decision that I would rather avoid the question! Even Deck was nice enough to give Ghost this beat, even though Deck released his first on his album… that’s family for you. It’s like my nephew borrowing my games so he can play on his PS3.
12. WE MADE IT
This tune right here was showing signs of an emerging crew known as the Theodore Unit. Ghost was looking to the future and a new wave of Wu affiliates, while Hell Razah brings his vicious delivery to the album: “We conversate like Christ and the twelve apostles/Livin life without you, can’t count you as great men/Murderers in the state pen’, bein caged in/The wages of sin, before they read up they pop our tape in/You ain’t gotta tuck you chain in cuz here we want the head of Satan…” Imagine if this was on a cassette tape, this would have ended the first side beautifully.
This track was weird as hell but it showed RZA’s genius. The Source cover photo (pictured right) made me so proud. I must have read that issue more times than any other magazine I had ever purchased… plus the album got 4.5 mics when the magazine was still credible…it gave me that extra validation that Wu-Tang Clan are STILL ain’t nuthin to f’wit…no one could tell me anything after that.
This is just telling me – ‘Yo Grant, don’t sweat the haters, Ghostface Killah will bring the Wu essence back from the No Limits and The Cash Moneys of the world, this is just the appetizer, and when The W drops, those people who told you to stop listening to Wu, will be listening again and will apologise to you. And I believed it.
See back then, Puff Daddy and Ma$e were seen as the ‘villains’ of hip hop. When RZA dropped that announcement on Wu-Tang Forever about artists taking this art form make it a ‘fashion show’, misleading the people, it made fans instantly turn against anything Puff & Ma$e did. So when we heard Ghostface talk about how he beat up Ma$e, fans felt overjoyed. Iron Man strikes back! He threw his plate at Ma$e, used the 5 Elements, and did by Any Means Necessary!
16. WHO WOULD YOU F**K?
“Rain, rain go away, come back some other day!” By far my favourite skit on the album for obvious reasons! Did you discuss this with your people? So right here and now I’ll reveal who I would f**k out the selections the clan discussed!
KIM OR FOX: Foxy Brown!
EVE OR DA BRAT: Eve!
MARY J BLIGE OR DEBROAH COX: Gotta go with Deborah Cox!
MISSY ELLIOT OR HEATHER B:… Missy… she has done well lately!
LADY OF RAGE OR RAH DIGGA: Rah Digga!!
JANET OR CHRISSY (Three’s Company): Not sure, I think Chrissy would get it!
NAOMI OR TYRA: Tyra… definitely. Don’t get me started on Higher Learning!
NIA LONG OR HALLE BERRY: Hard decision… (no pun intended)… Nia, when I see her… I’m gonna Long (CENSORED!)
If Ghostface Killah releases Supreme Clientele 2, can we get a sequel to this?
17. CHILD’S PLAY
Yes, we all got that schoolgirl crush!!! I got mine, she knows who she is! And back then she knew it and used to play on that… other guys saw the flirtatious behaviour and one in particular wanted to challenge me in a wrestling contest, I was whupping his @$$ until his big frame picked me up and charged ,me into the school window thus breaking the glass! The whole school was like – ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH!!! The headmaster was like – you gotta pay for the damage. 20 years later… I have yet to contribute…
18. CHERCHEZ LA GHOST
True story – I hated this song back then. It came as a shock when it first played, like it didn’t match the Wu-Tang sound throughout the album… I never realised the true essence of this until I saw what happened in the clubs. Some hail this as the best track on the album which to this day I find insulting. Even now, I would have replaced this with the Charli Baltimore track – Stand Up…
I just think they couldn’t think of anything to call this track so they just thought f**k it, call it Wu-Banga 101… well at least it does what it says on the tin! This was a track that could have done with a video as well in my opinion…imagine Ghost explaining the story of the corrupted pastor.
20. CLYDE SMITH
50 Cent has always been in my bad books from the day he broke in. He and the Madd Rapper did say ‘you can take 50’s How to Rob track how you want it’… so what happened was I took offence to the track, I thought the track was wack anyway, and the album it came from was rubbish. One day I put the Supreme Clientele CD in my Sega Saturn, and I actually turned up the pitch of the ‘Clyde Smith’ voice. Turns out to be Chef Raekwon even though you could tell it was him by the context of the things he said. From that day forward, I was never a 50 Cent fan. 1 good album – Get Rich Or Die Trying – That’s it.
You have just read my personal story of why this album is my favourite of all time. Key word – favourite – you can talk about Illmatic, Ready To Die, It Takes A Nation of Millions… etc… but everyone got that one album that is so personal to them. If I had any negative things to say, it was that I wished Cobra Clutch was on the album as well… which actually was planned to be the first single until Ghost got caught up so the album was delayed. I’m A die-hard Wu-fan who was told by those who didn’t know better to stop listening to Wu and follow what they’re on… I never listened to them. That’s like telling me the stories of what they do to Chinese food or KFC – I continue to eat all that, you know why? Because that’s just what I do! Not listening to them was the best thing I had done at that time… would I be writing articles like this now? Would I have met so many great people? Or would I have met the one who inspired me all these years? Where is No Limit now? Look how Cash Money is ridiculed, look how the House & Garage era was just a phase… and Wu-Tang Clan is still #1.
GHOSTFACE KILLAH: SALUTE THIS MAN.