w/ Sheek Louch, Saigon, Rowdy City, Debo and Krystyle. $25 adv., $28 doors. 8 p.m., Aug. 4. Toad's Place, 300 York St., New Haven, toadsplace.com
Dennis Coles has never let a good opportunity go to waste. The Staten Island, N.Y.-bred MC known as Ghostface Killah (plus Ironman, Tony Starks, Wally Champ and a bunch of other handles) first gained attention for 1993's Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, the brilliant debut from the martial-arts-adoring Wu-Tang Clan. Since then, he's doggedly kept his name fresh and newsworthy. "I'ma definitely be old in hip-hop. I'm not gonna be on the road. But this is a mental thing. You can write music till you 70. This is a hobby," the now 42-year-old said in a 2009 New York Magazine interview. "B., muthafuckas always act like they retiring and don't go nowhere. You know what it is, man. You can't get away from it." In honor of Ghost's staying power, here's an update on his three M's.
Music: Ghostface has long used soul/rock samples to back the twisty slang and complicated metaphors of his street rap fantasias, but with 2009's Ghostdini: The Wizard Of Poetry in Emerald City, he slowed his flow and focused on woman-wooing R&B. By 2010's Apollo Kids, he was back to his comfort zone, and when Blue & Cream: The Wally Era — his tenth record — arrives sometime next year, it will likely follow in the same lane.
On the collaboration front, he is as busy as ever. He's made quick cameos on releases belonging to up-and-coming rappers like Childish Gambino and Action Bronson, and with Wu-Block, he re-teams with his old Wu buddy Raekwon while adding Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and others to the mix. DOOMSTARKS, his project with inscrutable MC/producer DOOM (a.k.a. MF Doom), sadly looks to be kaput. Ghost has discussed an album since at least 2006, but all the duo have to show for it so far is the single "Victory Laps."
Wu-Tang, meanwhile, remain on a low simmer since its members are busy with 30 million projects. In a June 2011 Spinner interview, Raekwon said that the Clan's followup to 2007's 8 Diagrams was in its infancy, but who knows when it'll actually be out.
Merchandising: In May, news broke that Ghostface's brand GFK was putting out a limited-edition skateboard deck and T-shirt using work from Marvel Comics artist Mike del Mundo. Ghost has never shown an interest in skating, so it's for the best that he clarified, "This is for my real Hip-Hop skate fans and for my GFK-loyals that don't skate but is feeling the design." The art, which features a golden eagle greeting the masked rapper, clicks with an old piece of merch nicely: In 2006-ish, Ghost signed off on a talking doll in his likeness (a pretty terrible one, actually) that featured a golden eagle as an accessory.
(Social) Media: Like most celebs, Ghostface has his official accounts (he recently discussed Nas' new record and Ramadan on Twitter), but a fake one is most fascinating. Rap fans are required by law to check out "Big Ghost Chronicles," an A-grade parody of Ghost's rambling, slang-heavy form of speech. On the blog, Ghostfake spends a lot of time ragging on contemporary rappers like Drake and Wale, which has resulted in real-life animosity. Last year, a radio host told Wiz Khalifa about Ghostfake's indictment of him, which Khalifa presumed came from the real deal and thus called Ghostface "corny." (The matter was settled soon thereafter.) At one point, "Big Ghost Chronicles" was shut down, but the actual Ghost has thankfully come to his senses since and endorsed the impersonator's humor, going so far as to recommend him on Twitter. Even with this and all of the above, the world could always use more Ghostface.