The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Origin Story: Billy Woods' Favourite Albums
Zachary Lipez , May 24th, 2023 08:25

As he releases acclaimed new album Maps alongside Kenny Segal, underground hip hop mainstay Billy Woods takes tQ through the thirteen records that have defined his life, from Goodie Mob to Ghostface Killah


Ghostface Killah – Ironman

Okay, so this is kind of the opposite of Liquid Swords. When Ironman came out, to me it was a disappointment. Ghostface wasn't a primary person that you thought of in the Wu, or at least that I did. At those times it was like: Method Man, Deck, Ol' Dirty and Raekwon. And on Cuban Linx I knew Ghostface was all over the record, but I kind of just still thought about it as Raekwon. But now I was more interested and excited to see what Ghostface was going to do. And when the album came out it had a different type of vibe. There were a couple of joints that seemed cool, but I didn't get it and I didn't really get Ghostface's style. So it was just like, ‘All right, cool.’ I didn't pay attention to it too much. I didn't buy it. Later on, when I'm living in Harlem in the late nineties, Vordul just started always talking about Ghostface and how ill he was and I was like, ‘I don't really see it.’

He put on ‘Cobra Clutch’, which was a mixtape joint. Vordul was breaking it down to me. It's like being given a skeleton key to something, you know, where all of a sudden I was like, ‘Wait, oh shit.’ The stream of consciousness writing. the coded language, all the things kind of opened up to me. The flow, the emotions, everything just sort of sprang open, just off of Vordul. I was never the same after that. I didn't think about lyrics and stuff the same. Then he also liked Ironman, and when I listened I had a different understanding. Hearing a song like ‘260’ and actually not tuning out, being like, ‘Oh, there's this whole story here,’ and giving time for the beats to settle, not just kind of doing what I used to do when I was younger, expecting to hear the thing you already liked and then being turned off when you're not hearing that.