Ghostface Killah; Rhythm Roots All-Stars

3:46 am by

I was tempted to title this post simply “Rhythm Roots All-Stars” because I was much more impressed with them than I was with the headliner and his screaming male version of the Pips (except that the real Pips actually sounded good, while these guys…well, not so much). If you’re a rabid Ghostface fan, you might want to navigate away from this review. Or just send me some enthusiastic hate mail. You vent, I laugh, everyone wins!


Ole! This message brought to you by Ghostface Killah.

Still with me? Excellent. Scion hosted one of their ‘monthly no cover’ events at Warehouse Live on Sunday, November 25. Guest of honor was Ghostface Killah of Wu-Tang Clan fame, with support from the Rhythm Roots All-Stars and the aforementioned Pips. Eggs and I hadn’t been to a hip-hop show in awhile, so we were looking forward to what Mr. Dennis Coles had in store for us.


Rhythm Roots All-Stars at Warehouse Live

The night started well enough — we arrived with a few friends while a DJ was warming up the crowd with a medley of old R&B and hip-hop. A couple rounds of drinks later, the Rhythm Roots All-Stars took the stage. I’d caught this group at a previous Scion event supporting De La Soul and had been impressed then, so I expected no less this night. And they delivered — crisp Latin-infused beats that had me trying to dust off the dance lessons I wasted my money on last year. Unfortunately, they played a much-too-short set, and then we were all plunged into the audio nightmare of Ghostface and his posse.


Ghostface Killah and the Pips

Perhaps their microphones were just too loud. I suspect, however, that it had a lot to do with Ghostface et al. verbally assaulting the microphones with all the strength their vocal cords could muster. But worse than that were their cringe-worthy attempts at singing — all four were horribly flat, conjuring unwelcome memories of high school band and the evil tuning machine with its weird, vibrating wa-wa sound forever insinuating that I did not, in fact, know how to play my clarinet. When they weren’t torturing my ears with their non-melodies, I didn’t hear much from Ghostface at all. His Pips seemed to spend quite a bit more time barking expletives at the audience than he did.


What Ghostface did for most of the show

Not that it was all horrible. Just most of it. They did a few shortened versions of songs from back in the day, and I actually enjoyed those. It was the newer stuff that threw me — I went expecting Wu-Tang and instead I was pummeled with everything that I hate about rap today. Don’t misunderstand: I don’t hate all rap/hip-hop music. Give me The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Lyrics Born, Gift of Gab, or Pigeon John, and I’ll happily dance for hours, eyes closed and grinning non-stop. But this? This? More than once I caught myself staring at the debacle onstage, mouth hanging open in bewilderment.


Ghostface Killah and the Rhythm Roots All-Stars

The moment I spotted a heavily-made-up Vietnamese girl dancing her way across the stage, followed by several other aspiring groupies, I almost threw in the towel and bolted out of the building. I stuck it out till the bitter end, though, and I have to say that the Rhythm Roots All-Stars were reward enough for the effort. Throughout the vocal horror, they did an excellent job of playing Ghostface’s & Wu-Tang’s music, staying true to many of the original songs and adding their own interpretations to others. If you get a chance to catch these guys, I’d definitely recommend it. If they can save a show like this one, there’s no limit to what they can do.

If you’re still interested in sampling the vocal stylings of Ghostface et al., check out this clip from the show:


View more of our pictures of Ghostface Killah and the Rhythm Roots All-Stars.

Cereal’s Rhythm Roots All-Stars rating: 7/10 bowls. Wish their set had been longer!

Cereal’s Ghostface Killah et al. rating: 3/10 bowls. And it would have been lower if not for their backing band.

Cereal’s White Boy Rapper rating: 0.5/10 bowls. I was throwing mental tomatoes at him the whole time.

Until next time, carpe ientaculum.

— Cereal