Ghostface Killah: More Fish

Ghostface Killah: More Fish

B+

Ghostface Killah

Album: More Fish
Label: Def Jam

Def Jam is positing More Fish as a sequel to Ghostface Killah's rapturously received (albeit commercially disappointing) Fishscale. But it feels more like a high-end major-label mix-tape, and not just because it begins with Ghost machine-gun rhyming over a beat made famous by another rapper—Eric B and Rakim's "Juice (Know The Ledge)"—and ends with a star-studded remix ("Back Like That," featuring Kanye West), two ubiquitous mix-tape staples. Mix-tapes are all about generating or preserving buzz: They exist for the moment. Albums, however, beg to be remembered for posterity. More Fish accordingly looks to the future while simultaneously gauging the ever-changing pulse of the present.

More Fish's identity crisis doesn't end there. The disc falls somewhere between a solo joint and a posse album highlighting Ghostface's little-loved Theodore Unit crew and real-life progeny Sun God. (Ah, nepotism.) Alas, talent wasn't distributed equally amongst Ghost's crew, and with the exception of Redman's hilarious guest turn on "Greedy Bitches" and Kanye West's verse on "Back Like That"—which cleverly references Ghostface's guest turn on "Ice Cream"—More Fish suffers during Ghostface's absences.

A distinct randomness characterizes More Fish. It's the kind of album where "Pokerface," a poker-themed showcase for undistinguished Theodore Unit member Shawn Wiggs, is directly followed by an irreverent blast of lowbrow comedy (the aforementioned "Greedy Bitches") and a harrowing character study of inner-city drug addiction ("Josephine"). More Fish's lively assortment of odds and ends contains a few Fishscale-worthy gems, like the continental sophistication of the Mark Ronson-produced "You Know I'm No Good" and the MF Doom-produced "Alex," where Ghostface spins a head-spinning narrative so complex and detailed that it takes several listens to just to process everything. Fishscale was named after a particularly expensive and pure form of cocaine. More Fish's sonic fix is of a lesser quality, but it still packs a potent punch.