There’s something off with ‘The Sure Shot (Parts 1 and 2)’, at least on first listen. Ghostface Killah is noted as the artist behind the track, which is off of the upcoming album, Twelve Reasons to Die, but when the symbols are lightly tapped, rhythmically backed by the backgrounded snare drum, it feels as if you’re listening to a recording session at a jazz café. Initially double-checking the heading over the song, I felt like ?uestlove-backed Black Thought was going to emerge on the track. However, Ghostface did appear and his vocals seemed to match the production he was rapping over.
The Ghostface-level intensity, noticeable on older tracks like ‘Apollo Kids’ and ‘Run’, seemed as if it declined on ‘The Sure Shot’ to reflect the rapper’s age, and career longevity. Even though it shouldn’t be surprising that Ghostface doesn’t have the same intensity from thirteen or nine years ago, the end of the first verse is troubling for someone known for their high vocal velocity. When the beat lets up for Ghost at the end of the verse, it’s as if he’s panting at the end of a long marathon, sputtering out a few last words before the guitar-led transition takes over.
This lagging sense is present throughout the latter half of the first verse.
When the rumbling guitar line helps transition into a slower beat for the latter two verses, which constitutes “Part 2” of the song, it not only serves to heighten Ghost’s description of his crime-laden scenes, it serves to further illustrate the sense of a lagging-behind Ghostface in the first verse. Overall, however, ‘The Sure Shot’ is still a pretty decent song.
The production definitely seems like a change of pace for Ghostface, and, especially during “Part 2”, it allows Ghost’s gristly descriptions of murder and conquest to be front and centre. The lyricism is vivid, with lines describing the murdering of rivals through pitbull attacks – blood splattering on the wall – it all fits very well with his gangster epic motif that will envelope his upcoming album.
In “Part 2”, Ghostface does excel, the more paced beat makes lines like “The face of a ghost, / I disappear in the vapors” that much more pointed. It’s “Part 1”, however, that really highlights a different Ghost, an aging Ghost, one that’s slowly retreating behind the blood-splattered walls.