Today we celebrate the birthday of one of Shaolin's finest MCs, Dennis Coles, aka Ghostface Killah, who was born on May 9, 1970. The Staten Island-born MC is one of the original nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan. He took the inspiration for his alias from Ghost Face Killer, the villain in the 1979 kung-fu classic Mystery of Chessboxing. (Yes, the same film that inspired the title of the Wu-Tang song “Da Mystery of Chessboxin.”) And as seen in the iconic video, staying true to his name, Ghostface initially kept his face obscured.
Ghost also holds the distinction of rapping the first verse on the first song on Wu-Tang’s legendary 1993 debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). But it was his appearance as the “guest star” on Raekwon’s incredible 1995 solo debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., that really established Ghost as a lyrical force.
His solo debut, Ironman, arrived a year later. Inspired by another GFK alias—Tony Starks—Ironman showcased Ghost’s storytelling and paired him with Rae and Cappadonna for another early Wu classic. His sophomore album, Supreme Clientele, arrived in 2000.
In his 2004 book The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA described Ghost’s verse on Wu-Tang Forever’s “Impossible” as “the greatest Wu-Tang verse ever written." Nearly 32 bars long, Ghost’s “Impossible” verse detailed the shooting death of his friend Jamie, from when the ambulance was called to when he was “pronounced dead, y'all, at 12:10.”
Ghostface has released ten solo albums over the years. His most recent project was 2015’s Twelve Reasons to Die II, a collaboration with Adrian Younge.
Happy Birthday, Pretty Toney. May all your product be fishscale and all your wallets bulletproof for years to come.
[via Mass Appeal]