Ghostface Killah, The Pretty Toney Album

Jayson Greene

By Jayson Greene

on 07.13.11 in Reviews

The Pretty Toney Album

His warmest, and the most indebted to the ’70s soul he reveres

The Pretty Toney Album, Ghostface’s first record for Def Jam, is his warmest, and also, not coincidentally, the most openly indebted to the 1970s soul he grew up with and reveres. Large, unreconstructed chunks of this stuff wobble to the surface again and again on Pretty Toney, playing on memory and sense and association. Ghost (and the Wu in general) have always dug into classic-soul crates when they were looking to jerk tears; The Pretty Toney Album is an entire album living in this fond, amber-tinted headspace, and it features some of Ghost’s most expansive writing. Many of his raps are structured as reminiscences — “It’s Over,” where he recounts love and criminal enterprises gone wrong, or “Holla,” where he blusters over The Delfonics‘ “La-La Means I Love You” in its sublime entirety about his mischief in the Rakim/Big Daddy Kane era. The album also has two of his greatest love songs: “Save Me Dear,” where his woman pulls a self-pointed gun from his temple, telling him if he shoots, “You ain’t the real Pretty Tone,” and “Tooken Back,” where he gets on his knees and begs his woman — one who sold him out to the cops, natch — to take him back.