Sophia Chang’s 10 Rap Commandments
Industry veteran Sophia Chang breaks down some industry do's and don'ts on how to succeed.
Ghostface Killah (real name Dennis Coles) is a rapper from Staten Island, New York, who has seen success as both a solo artist and a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. He’s known for his storytelling capabilities within his lyrics, with an aggressive, fast-paced flow. Ghostface is an original member of Wu-Tang, having been roommates with one of its founders, Rza. A fan of old Kung-Fu films, his name is taken from the 1979 movie, Mystery of Chessboxing. Following the success of the group’s debut album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Ghostface went on to pursue a solo career—starting with being extensively featured on groupmate Raekwon’s debut album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. He went on to appear on the soundtracks to both Sunset Park and Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, and dropped his debut album, Ironman, in 1996. Ironman debuted at Number Two on the Billboard 200 and was received well by critics, solidifying Ghostface’s career outside of Wu-Tang Clan. To date, he has released nine solo studio albums and seven collaborative albums. The latter included projects with Trife Diesel, Method Man and Redman, Sheek Louch, Adrian Younge, The Revelations, BadBadNotGood and Younge and Raekwon, respectively. Apart from his music career, Ghostface Killah has made numerous television and film appearances. The rapper has appeared in the film Belly, the TV Show 30 Rock and more, and starred in the VH1 reality series Couples Therapy alongside girlfriend Kelsey Nykole in 2014. Ghostface continues to record and remains best known for his lyrical dexterity and strong cult following.
While MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumile) is highly regarded as one of the most inimitable figures in hip-hop, part of his legacy also lies within his collaborative work and in his eccentric half-dozen alter egos. Of those experimental projects, his partnership with Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is one of the most celebrated. Their debut project, The Mouse and the Mask, was released to critical acclaim in 2005, utilizing the collective moniker DANGER DOOM. The project was released in the UK through Lex Records, as well as in the United States through punk label Epitaph Records, marking the latter imprint's third foray into hip-hop. Best known for his work with the Gorillaz, Beck, the Black Keys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Grammy Award-winning producer Danger Mouse handled the instrumentation, while DOOM focused on the animated vocals and eccentric lyrical direction. For DANGER DOOM‘s debut, Danger Mouse chose to sample exclusively from various animated shows airing on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's late-night programming block—with a handful of cartoon characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force making appearances on the album, in addition to the likes of Cee-Lo Green, Talib Kweli, and Ghostface Killah. With support from the network and famed comedian Dave Chappelle alike, the project was released in October 2005 and quickly became a cult fan favorite. While the album sparked several noteworthy talking points, MF DOOM's diss against his former collaborator, MF Grimm, undeniably stood out. The Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C.) member later responded with the track "Book of Daniel," during which he accused DOOM of selling out. With many hailing the seemingly unlikely pairing of MF DOOM and Danger Mouse as an undeniable success, DANGER DOOM delivered once again the following year, releasing their 2006 EP, Occult Hymn, exclusively though AdultSwim.com. Although DANGER DOOM has not reunited since 2006, their small-but-impactful body of work remains heralded as one of the most experimental and pleasantly absurdist collaborations to come out of the 2000s.
Method Man is a Grammy Award-winning rapper and actor, who originally got his start as part of the rap collective Wu-Tang Clan. The Long Island native met up with Wu-Tang creator Rza in the early ‘90s after being impressed with a tape he’d heard from the producer, and the group was born soon after. After seeing breakout success with their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Method became the first member to release a solo effort. Tical was released in 1994 via Def Jam, debuting at Number 4 on the Billboard 200 and going on to sell over one million units. The following year, Mary J. Blige would remix the Tical track “All I Need,” leading to a Grammy Award for the pair for Best Rap Performance By a Duo Or Group. While he continued to record as a solo artist and with Wu-Tang, Method Man began his acting career. First featured in the film Belly in 1998, Method also landed roles in prominent shows and films like Oz, The Wire, CSI, Soul Plane, Garden State and more. In 1999, Meth and frequent collaborator Redman decided to team up for a joint album titled Blackout! The album’s success would launch a lucrative path for the duo, leading to the feature film How High, as well as numerous endorsements, tours and even a short-lived FOX sitcom, “Method & Red.” To date, Method Man has released five solo albums, two albums as part of Method Man & Redman, a collaborative album with Wu-Tang groupmates Ghostface Killah and Raekwon, and six albums as part of Wu-Tang Clan.