Play ball!
Play ball!

Shaolin Ironmen

As mercurial as ever, Ghostface has been teasing us with a new album for months, even while anchoring Wu-Tang's reunion tour and popping up on albums by everyone from Danger Doom to Prefuse 73.

Fluctuating release dates aside, Fishscale is finally due next week and—sigh of relief—it does everything right. The soul-buoyed production that won The Pretty Toney Album so many fringe fans is intact (see "Big Girl"), but this time driven by more radio-ready locomotion.

The first single, "Back Like That," finds R&B idol Ne-Yo gently explaining to brutish Ghostface a few better ways to regain a girl's love. It's a fine slab of crossover intrigue, but more enduring and infectious are the breakout "Be Easy," produced by Pete Rock, and the Raekwon-featured "Kilo," which has a tinny sample handily reminding "The kilo is a measure/A kilo is one thousand grams/It's easy to remember." Describing a numb face and pounding heart while hallucinating Captain Kirk, it suddenly dawns on our addled hero that "whoever's got the kilo's got the candy." From there he's off and running.

Is it heresy to say this early that Fishscale is better than Pretty Toney? Who the hell cares—we have a new Ghostface album, and that's more than enough.

Ghostface Killah at the House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583; Tues., 7 p.m. $22.50-$25. All ages.


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