Photo by Chris Glancy
What more could be said about Ghostface at this point? The guy epitomizes every single thing this magazine stands for. His musical contributions are unsung, yet unmatched. He’s single-handedly responsible for the soul sampling that made Kanye famous, the emo raps that became Jay-Z’s blueprint, and the Clarks Wallabees that got you through life without wearing a pair of square shoes. His retrofuturistic slang is inimitable. He gave truck jewels a new cultural significance. He’s the only reason you own a bathrobe.
That said, his relevance within rap’s current climate seems to be in jeopardy. Indeed, for a hip-hop audience of inner-city reggaeton-bred borinqueñas and wiggered-out suburban G-Unit soldiers, what does this middle-aged eccentric have to offer? The answer is: A cryptic, experimental, and decidedly left-field classic album. Let’s go over the Tony Starks discography for a second. Ironman came out at the height of the Wu era, when RZA’s awkward percussions and lo-fi Gregorian chants could do no wrong. Four years later, Supreme Clientele drops, and it’s absolutely flawless. Effortlessly conjuring up Wu nostalgia, it solidifies Ghost’s rep as the Clan’s only remaining star. However, Deini attempted to replicate the formula the following year with Bulletproof Wallets and it flopped. And let’s face it, aside from an amazing first single, 2004’s Pretty Toney Album wasn’t much of anything either.
So how does this year’s upcoming Fishscale manage to recapture and even transcend Supreme Clientele’s magic? Well, for one, RZA’s out of the picture. Oddly enough, the Wally Champ replaced him with backpack superlegend MF Doom. And the results are spectacular. Instead of shying away from Ghostface’s oddities, as did his previous efforts, Fishscale emphasizes them. What you get is the spontaneity of Clientele mixed with the off-the-wall lyricism of Ironman. Once again, it’s time to eat fish, toss salads, and make rap ballads. Perhaps Ghost’s been rejuvenated by the equally food-obsessed Doom. To find out, we caught the gargantuan MC at the catering table on the set of his latest video. As Jay once put it, this is food for thought, so get a plate.
Vice: What was the food rider like today, Ghost?
Ghostface: I didn’t even make this rider, G. I came in this morning and there was pork. I didn’t ask for that shit, the pork was already in the kitchen, you know? So I said what I had to say and shit, I barked a little bit, like “cut that shit,” and they went and got me some other shit. Like three hours later. Somebody went to the store for me and got me a little something something.
You had a mixtape a couple of years ago that was called No Pork on My Fork.
Yeah, Kay Slay named the mixtape that. It’s really just a name. But that CD was righteous right there, so there’s definitely no pork on my fork, period.
So being that today’s rider was a bust, what would be on your ideal, perfect craft table?
I’d just put like some soul food, man, you know? Macaroni and cheese, cornbread, you know what I mean, like I said in the song. Fish. There could also be some turkey wings or even meatloaf. Let’s see, what else? You know, some pasta, give me some stuffed shells or some lasagna or some ziti or something. That’s really it, you know what I mean? We can eat a steak, too.
What did you mean when you said “My raps is like ziti”?
That’s just how I come across, how I put my words together in my flow and my thinking. Since I might go left-field, that’s exactly what it is: My raps is like a bangin’ pot of ziti, you know what I mean?
So you wouldn’t put anything fancy in the rider. Like, no caviar or none of that bougie shit.
None of that. Caviar? I haven’t tasted that in my life, B.
How about drinks?
The best shit is right here: Water. That’s what I drink the most in my day. I like that Vitamin Water too, cuz it don’t got that much sugar in it, so that’s good for you. I like that. [Pointing to the faucet] That’s the best water right there, G. [To his manager] He don’t know nothing about that, [back to Vice] you don’t know about tap water, man. Before bottled water was out, man, tap water was all you got. It’s in the hood, man, you run in the bathroom and that shit be cold as shit. Drink it right out the shit, fuck a cup, you know what I mean? But that’s how it is, G. The hood is different now, now you got bottled water, there wasn’t that shit back in the days. Now you can pay for water, you know?
You also said “Sugar water was our thing.” I bet you some people still drink it out of habit.
They probably do, yeah, but I haven’t tried that since back then. Sugar water was when we was poor, coming up. I might fall the fuck out if I drink me some sugar water.
How do you prepare it?
Just put it in water, G, sugar and water. But it’s not good for the teeth, it’s not even good for your body, really, you know what I mean? You know, that’s when you poor, coming up in the hood and you ain’t got no Kool-Aid or nothing like that. And as a kid, you love sugar. It wasn’t like your mother told you to go make that, you know, you just made it on your own.
OK, so just water on the rider, no juice?
I mean it’s whatever your tongue tastes like. If your tongue tastes like an orange or a grape, you know what I mean, then you get some juice or something. Whatever your tongue tastes like, then that’s what it is, you know what I mean? Orange juice, apple juice, lemonade, iced tea—I like a lot of iced tea. I like iced tea, the regular ones, you know, Nestea iced teas and all that.
How about fine wine? It seems that you were really into that in the Cuban Linx era.
One of my chicks used to drink wine and shit. I don’t be knowing names though, all I know is Opus One, that’s the smooth one. I’m not into all that fucking Cabernets and shit.
Oh there’s a Chardonnay and a Cabernet? See, I didn’t know that, you know what I mean? I just thought it was Cabernets and Merlots. Wine is wine, but the smoothest wine is Opus.
Now on to the dessert section of the rider. What do you need?
I don’t have a favorite dessert, you know, but I love ice cream. I’m a diabetic, man, but I still love carrot cakes and chocolate cakes and pound cakes and shit like that. You know what I mean? Cookies here and there, it depends on the cookies and how your tongue feel. I’m not too big on the desserts. I just sent my grandma a carrot cake though.
You had a song called “Mighty Healthy.” You were never a vegetarian, right?
Nah man, I’m not vegetarian, G. I eat my vegetables and all that shit but you know, I get my little meats in here and there. You know what I mean, poultry and all that shit.
You do seem to have lost a little weight. Is it safe to say you watch what you eat?
Here and there. Those was just carbs I was eating just now. So you know, as long as I take my insulin man I’m alright. Do a little exercise here and there and I’m good. But I don’t watch everything and shit, I’m a regular person, I run around and shit. Sometimes it don’t be the correct shit that you should be eating on the road when you’re moving around, you know what I mean? I don’t have nobody to cook for me every day, so I eat what I can eat. I could cook for myself, but I don’t be doing the shit too often, you know what I mean? But if I do do it, then of course it’s gonna be right. You know my moms and them, I been around all that shit. I know what I gotta do. It’s just that you be too lazy to really get down like that. But I got pots and pans, G.
Fishscale is out now on Def Jam.