‘Ghost Files’ delivers a double album of high-intensity remixes

Ghostface Killah’s latest features stellar production work

ae-ghostfacekillah-courtesywikimediacommons

Ghostface Killah and his collaborators continue to innovate on "Ghost Files," a remixed LP of his 2018 mixtape "The Lost Tapes." 

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Remix albums hold an interesting position within a musician’s discography. Some remix projects retool the sound of an album, breathing new life into an artist’s work and nearly eclipsing the material from which they were drawn from. Others are regarded with little more than passing attention — seen as distractions to help tide over fans until an artist can produce their next batch of original material. With the release of “Ghost Files,” New York hip-hop artist Ghostface Killah presents a double album full of breakneck tracks which firmly attest to the power remix projects can have.

“Ghost Files” is a reworking of Ghostface’s 2018 album “The Lost Tapes,” an album which brought together a number of previously unreleased Ghostface tracks along with a healthy dose of new material. The album features a litany of energetic performances from Ghostface, as well as a star-studded features list of classic hip-hop legends like Big Daddy Kane, Snoop Dogg, E-40 and more. With “The Lost Tapes” as a baseline, “Ghost Files” features the help of hip-hop producers Bronze Nazareth and Agallah, who each provide their own remix of the full tracklist divided between the two sides of the double album — the Bronze and Propane side, respectively. With full control over their respective sides of the album, “Ghost Files” serves as a performance stage on which Bronze and Agallah can flex their production chops, each bringing a unique sound. 

Remixes on the “Bronze Tape” focus on bringing out the New York boom bap sound Ghostface emerged from. Tracks like “Buckingham Palace” are framed by a pitch-shifted R&B sample that soulfully cries out in unison with verses from Ghostface and KXNG Crooked. In the instrumental’s background, a booming string section is chopped and screwed alongside a gritty drumbeat, infusing the track with bombastic momentum. 

Conversely, on the “Propane Tape” the track takes on a darker, more menacing tone. A clipped guitar sample slashes with frantic energy as washed-out synth and organ notes fill out the instrumental. The switch to a darker instrumental brings out a new note in the track’s vocals, with the raspier inflections in Ghostface’s delivery standing out more prominently as they contrast against bleating and bass-soaked synths.

Despite having to work with a 13-song tracklist of the same material, Bronze and Agallah never seem to step on each other’s toes or overlap styles in a noticeable way. Every song on both sides of “Ghost Files” captures its own unique sound and energy — even when listening to both producers’ sides back to back, it never feels like the project is rehashing itself. Although it might not be the comeback LP of reinvented material longtime fans have been waiting for Ghostface to drop, “Ghost Files” shouldn’t be overlooked as a solid retooling of one of the rapper’s best projects in recent years.

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