Old School Friday: Freshman Year and Ghostface
My freshman year of high school was so uneventful that I don’t even remember it. All I recall is my first serious teacher, Mr. Mealey, making me think about science in a logical and analytical way that until that point was unprecedented (even in the Mentally Gifted Program). A quick glance at the wiki entry on music of 1993 makes matters much clearer: that was the year of Wu-Tang’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).
Mmmm hmmm, that’s right. That is Ghostface Killah aka Tony Starks aka the thug gangsta jump off man of my fantasies with yours truly. Last weekend Ghostface did a show in my town, and when I heard he’d be signing autographs just a few blocks from my apartment I threw on the Wu-Tang tee that I rock regularly and trotted on down there to snuggle up on my boo. There is something embarrassingly intoxicating about Ghostface, an attraction that my middle-class, white collar, feminist sensibilities doesn’t like, but also can’t resist. The misogyny in his lyrics has always given me pause, but it’s always followed by a description of women that only a man who loves us hopelessly and madly could ever conjure. In person, Ghostface has this cocky babyboyness about him and smells like weed smoke, fresh laundry, and artificial fruit flavoring. If I could bottle the pheromones of every block-hugger in the hood and spray it on the mildly corny but upstanding dudes that I’m more appropriately matched with in real life, I would be so much happier dating. Real talk.
His show that night was a strange mix of blatantly ridiculous low budget white chicks dancing on stage and a medley of Wu songs that may or may not have featured Ghost at all – the show was definitely more for Wu fans than just for Ghostface fans. It was just as well, because I spent as much time rhyming along with the lyrics and bobbing my head as I did fantasizing about being the Bonnie to Ghostface’s Clyde while driving through Staten Island in a big SUV, stopping at corner stores and making suspicious pick ups and drop offs along the way. It’s just like that.
But back to 1993, when I knew nothing of corner boys or even boys at all. The first rap album I loved was also released that year, Black Sheep’s A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, and so the grimy “Protect Ya Neck,” was the next logical step in the expansion of my hip-hop repertoire. No, I didn’t have any idea what these dudes were talking about – something about Kung Fu, living in the projects, and some Five Percenter mumbo jumbo thrown in – but it sounded good. As a girl, I didn’t appreciate the appeal of Ghostface in the ways that I do now, and any hip-hop head will probably agree that he wasn’t a standout in the group until Raekwon’s purple tape and has improved his flow by leaps and bounds even since then. You can’t see his face in this video (Ghost.Face. get it?) but “Da Mystery of Chessboxin,” was the video that turned me into a Wu fan for life.
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