Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai [Epic/Razor Sharp, 2000]
After years of expressing his spiritual aspirations in the language of cinematic pseudosymphony, RZA's own soundtrack proves pure r&b--less strung up than Curtis Mayfield's (and Johnny Pate's) Superfly, less underdeveloped than John Lurie's Get Shorty, and topping both in the essential soundtrack service of consistent background listenability. Ranging beyond the Wu to rope in Jeru and Kool G Rap, fine femme crooners and a dead ringer for Burning Spear, he deploys voices for texture and structure-verbal content, suitable enough when you tune in, is irrelevant. Hip-hop as mystery, beauty, pleasure--as idealized aural environment. A-