As a member of the Wu Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah was part of one of rap’s greatest dynasties. Now on his fourth solo album, The Pretty Toney Album, the Staten Island, NY native speaks about who he is, life on a new label and how he plans to stay atop the rap game.
The Temple News: So is it Tony Starks, Black Jesus, Ironman or Ghostface Killah?
Ghostface Killah: It’s whatever you want to call it.
TTN: What’s the story behind the title of your new album?
GFK: They call me Tony Starks (alter ego of Marvel Comics character Ironman, a personal favorite of Ghostface) and Pretty Tony is a side of the Mack in the movie The Mack. So when I was watching The Mack I kinda put two and two together and was like ‘yo we’re gonna call this The Pretty Toney Album.’
TTN: What’s it like recording on your own compared to working with the Wu-Tang Clan?
GFK: It’s a project. It’s like the first time I did it was kinda rough. I felt like it was a lot of work for me. In time I got used to it. After the first one I knew how to go ahead and structure the next one. That’s how Supreme [Clientele] changes to Bulletproof [Wallet] to now you’ve got the Toney Album right here.
TTN: How’s it feel to be on Def Jam?
GFK: It feels better than the other label (Sony), but we’ll see if we can move some units. I’ll tell you that next time I see you.
TTN: What makes you so successful?
GFK: God is first. If it’s talent, it’s god given talent. God is the foundation of everything; my thinking, everything. My awareness; my breath, my breathing. That’s God. All that I gotta give back. All praises are due, so He’s first.
TTN: Missy Elliot and Jadakiss are both on the new CD. What artists, dead or alive would you like to collaborate with?
GFK: Patti LaBelle, I would love to do something with Patti. There are a lot of people, but a lot of older people. Stevie Wonder. R. Kelly is creative, but you know, he’s doing a lot of stuff. I would have to do something totally out of the ordinary. That’s on him. He’s creative though. I like Avant. He does his thing. Another serious one would be Beyonce. That would be nice.
TTN: How do you spend your time when you come to Philadelphia?
GFK: We just came from the Philly cheesesteak spot. I forgot the name of the spot though. That was tasting like a little Hamburger Helper right there. We go to the malls or do radio or might just chill in the hotel.
TTN: You’re originally from Staten Island, NY. Do you still call Staten Island home?
GFK: I’m staying in a bunch of places. Wherever I lay my hat, that’s where my home is right then.
TTN: What do you have to do to separate yourself from everyone else in the industry and stay on top of your game?
GFK: [The key is to] Don’t listen too much to what’s going on. Try to stay true to yourself. I listen to a lot of old soul music, so you know, that inspires me and I hang around my people that inspire me too. Like, my man Tyson. He’s been on the album. He’s from the same projects. He’s representin’ the Theodore Unit right now. He might throw a verse and it’ll be fire and just keep you on your toes and it keeps the faith in you and all that. Then, when we write rhymes together it’s even more crazy. So stuff like that and being around funny people that make me laugh.
TTN: Seems as though Little Jon is on the radio every five minutes and in the club wherever you go. What trends in hip-hop do you hear that you don’t like?
GFK: Hip-hop is universal. I wouldn’t trash him because that’s what they do in the South. That’s the South. We do what we do. What’s messed up now is there’s a lot of commercial stuff out there and I’m not just saying coming from the South because New York got the most commercial stuff. We just need more creativity.
These days and times right now are kinda rough and it’s like hip-hop has lost its soul and I don’t really feel it like I used to feel it back then. That’s why I try to stay in my own element, but I wish that we could all be creative and use our minds and just rhyme about whatever what we love instead of talking about who you’re gonna kill and this and that. That’s why the dirty South gets a lot of love because they don’t really be talking about ‘I’ll kill you and kidnap your daughter and I’ll do this.’ They want to have fun. So their music sounds like fun. They’re jumping around and yelling and doing all that stuff. They’re in the party. But when you have to talk about something about ‘I’ll kill you’ it’s like, ‘How are you gonna dance to that in the clubs?’ They wonder why they don’t get any spins.
TTN: Diddy has Making the Band. Xzibit has Pimp My Ride. What kind of reality show would you like to host?
GFK: I really don’t know what kind of show I’d want to host. I want to get into movies. Making my own movies. Writing my own movies. I’ve got a script called Raccoons in Hollywood right now that we’ll start shooting in September. At the same time I have another movie that I have written. That one will pop off and we’ll go to the next one. I don’t know. Reality TV shows, and all that stuff, I watch some of them, but I never really thought about it like that. If I did, it’d be like Joe Millionaire or something.
Lucas K. Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org