As one of the original members of the seminal '90s rap crew the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah (aka Tony Starks) made an impact before he released his debut album, Ironman, late in 1996. Like all members of the Wu-Tang Clan, the rapper used the group as a launching pad for a solo career, which was assisted greatly by other members of the Clan, particularly producer RZA. Ghostface Killah had rapped on Wu-Tang's 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang, but he didn't distinguish himself until 1995, when he was showcased on fellow Wu member Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Ghostface received good reviews for his appearance on the record, and his contribution to the soundtracks for Sunset Park and Don't Be a Menace to South Central While You're Drinking Your Juice in the Hood also were well-received. All of these guest appearances and soundtrack contributions set the stage for Ghostface Killah's solo debut, Ironman, in late 1996. Like all Wu-Tang projects, it was produced by RZA and was quite successful in the large hip-hop/rap underground, debuting at number two on the pop charts upon its release. Ironman was also the first album to be released on Razor Sharp Records, RZA's record label on Epic Records.
Work with the Wu-Tang and their various members kept Ghostface Killah busy until solo singlesstarted appearing at the end of 1999 followed by his sophomore full-length, Supreme Clientele, in early 2000. Supreme Clientele was a success and it was followed a year later by Bulletproof Wallets. Again it was back to the Wu for a couple years before the rapper would be appearing solo again. Epic issued the compilation Shaolin's Finest in April of 2003, and by the end of the year two new Ghostface tracks had started to appear on mixtapes. The chaotic "Run" with Jadakiss and the more commercial "Tush" with Missy Elliott raised the anticipation for the rapper's first album for Def Jam and his first under the simpler moniker Ghostface. The Pretty Toney Album hit the streets in April of 2004. The Top Ten hit Fishscale, along with More Fish, followed in 2006, but not before 718 -- an album from his Theodore Unit.
Always prolific, the rapper put out The Big Doe Rehab -- whose release date had originally coincided with Wu-Tang's long-awaited fifth full-length, 8 Diagrams, which RZA agreed to push back a week so as to not coincide with Ghost's effort -- in early December 2007. Ghostface returned in 2008 with a pair of compilations: The Wallabee Champ (rarities and B-sides) and GhostDeini the Great (including remixes, alternate versions, and career highlights). Influenced by R&B and focused on the ladies, his 2009 album Ghostdini the Wizard of Poetry was a significant departure. The more traditional effort Apollo Kids landed in 2010 with special guests Redman, Busta Rhymes, and the Game. Another significant departure arrived in early 2013 with the release of Twelve Reasons to Die. The album was a collaborative effort with film composer Adrian Younge and was inspired by the Italian murder mystery/slasher film genre known as giallo. - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Fresh off the release of his highly acclaimed Clay Pigeons LP, internationally lauded battle rapper Illmaculate is embarking on a US tour and hopes to bring his new material to life on a stage near you. In addition to a legendary battle resume which spans over the last decade and has amassed him numerous high-profile victories with over 5 million views on youtube, Illmaculate has proven he is one of the few battle stars who can also make quality music. Whether releasing albums as a solo artist or as one tenth of the Portland, Oregon based collective Sandpeople, his music has connected with hip hop fans all over the world. Illmaculate has billed Clay Pigeons as a last minute effort to let go of some unreleased material and build momentum for upcoming projects; this is clearly a modest outlook on an album that many consider to be his most focused and inspired work to date. Over the LP's 20 tracks, Illmaculate's confident tone and technical delivery handles smoothly over a variety of sonic ground by producers Chase Moore, Trox, and Stewart Villain to name a few. Lyrically, Illmaculate proves yet again why he is a force to be reckoned with but on this album his true opponents are the system and his own personal demons. After years of taking down other rappers, he is now showing listeners what it means to fight a real battle.
Illmaculate is promoting the release of his latest album,
Clay Pigeons, available now.
Old Man Saxon
Old Man Saxon spent 2014 living out of his car while pursuing his rap career. He slept in the backseat of his Ford Explorer, showered at gyms, ate Happy Meals twice a day, and worked nights at a restaurant to keep money in his pocket.
Every night, he wrote lyrics to keep his mind off the daily struggles. Over the course of the year, he wrote hundreds of songs, recorded about 30, and selected four songs that best captured the year—a defining moment in his life and career—for his new album, The Perils.
The music video for the title track of the album is directed by Anthony Yano Hays. His goal was to truthfully and powerfully portray the indescribable loneliness, anxiety, and vulnerability that Old Man Saxon felt while being homeless.
Los Angeles Native Justin Hill aka SwearxxxWords has been a connoisseur of the Arts since childhood, traveling and exploring the world through Photography. After hearing Basment Jaxx' "Jus 1 Kiss" live in Paris in 1998, he was hooked on House Music. Blessed by the Dalai Lama in 2001, his tireless Journey of the Arts continued throughout the last decade, and has all led up to this Album.
The LP has been craftfully dubbed, "Electro-Indie-Soul" by Flavia of Angel Dust