Doc Zeus never had baked alaskan.
Age is not a valued commodity in the dog-eat-dog world of professional rapping. Aside from the young pups clamoring to rip the necrotic, fleshy careers of the flabby and sick, age often robs rappers of that certain youthful couldn’t-give-a-fuck attitude that made us love our most esteemed veterans in the first place. It’s true that time can make your voice richer and more mature as it did with Scarface. It also can turn you into a delusional, perpetual laughingstock as it did with Nas, or a corporate sloganeering automaton like it did Jay-Z (or Common or Ice Cube or LL or…). Ghostface is practically an octogenarian in rap years, a dangerous age for a rap veteran, but that hasn’t seemed to stop him from being as roguishly charismatic as he’s ever been on his new album, Apollo Kids.
Superficially, “Apollo Kids” might seem like Ghost in autopilot mode since it’s light on the exploratory eccentricities of Ghost’s most celebrated work. The soul loops are impeccable and as dusty as ever but you won’t find many hallucinatory, Sponge Bob fantasies floating around on a cloud of angel dust smoke. Instead, Ghost kicks the tales of murder, drugs and Wallabee-related mayhem with the same standard-bearing excellence as always, colored by the worldview of a man who has pretty much seen it all. Apollo reveals Ghost less as a Staten Island-bred murder goon (although, he still swings the fast blade) and more as a cranky patriarch of the east coast coke rap scene.
On “In Tha Park,” Black Thought and Ghost trade furious raps about the days when they were just discovering hip hop music, while on “Ghetto” finds he and the rest of the clan attempting to teach the youth how to survive in the slums. As usual, Ghost chastises young rappers fucking up the rap game, but he also offers an interesting vulnerability — at times referring to himself as “Grandpa Ghost.” While on “Superstar–” in what might be the oddest boast of all-time — Ghost claims that “his chain swings down to his torn meniscus.” Outside of a Drake concert, there aren’t many rappers willing to claim they suffer from a chronic knee injury.
Of course, Dennis Coles is only 40 years old and while I can’t attest to his status as an actual grandfather (Sun God didn’t breed yet, right? For the sake of the Coles’ gene pool, let’s hope that hasn’t happened yet) when it comes time for him to collect Social Security, I want to see him still rapping his sagging balls off. If “Apollo Kids” is a profile of a rapper as he reaches middle-age then I can’t wait to hear him kicking rhymes about smacking rappers upside the head with his iced-out walker, running the bingo games with Raekwon and complaining about how his adult diapers chafe his ass. Somehow, I think Grandpa Ghost will still be around.