Coming into the game as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah was an odd choice if you were placing your bets on who would become the most successful solo artist out of the crew. But more than two decades after the group's seminal debut, 1993's 'Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers,' the man known as Tony Starks stands as the most accomplished of the nine MC's and is still regarded as one of the best lyricists in the game.

His solo debut, 'Ironman,' was considered a surprise success, but his 2000 follow-up, 'Supreme Clientele' is where GFK truly hit his stride. Featuring appearances by his Wu brethren and Redman, the album was a coming out party of sorts for the Staten Island rep. He dropped an innumerable amount of zany bars over cinematic production from RZA, Mathematics and Carlos Broady, among others, which immediately left you with a screw face.

Considered one of the definitive rap albums of the new millennium and action-packed from start-to-finish, 'Supreme Clientele' is the crown jewel in the storied career of Dennis Coles. With 15 years now in the rearview since the release of this masterpiece on Feb. 8, 2000, we rounded up a few respected voices within hip-hop to share their favorite memories involving the album and give their take on what makes it a classic.

  • 1

    Rob Markman

    Senior Hip-Hop Editor (MTV)

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "I bought 'Supreme Clientele' back when I had a mail room job down by Wall Street in New York City. There was this store called Record Explosion where I would get all of my CDs on pay day. So I copped the album and listened to it on the train ride home and loved every single song. A few weeks later, I was with my boy Meka and he was playing the album and I noticed his s--- sounded way different from mine. His album had 'Ironman' skits, different beats and it didn't have 'The Rain.' Later on, I found out I copped a rare Canadian version of the album and till this day it's my favorite version of 'Supreme Clientele.'"

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "'The Rain' is my favorite song, not because it's the best, but because it was so rare and I was one of the only ones with it. I thought it was so ill that Ghost just rhymed straight over The Dramatics original, he didn't loop it or sample it, just rhymed right over the record."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "My favorite beat on the album is 'One.' Coming up, I was a huge Beatnuts fan and Wu was on top of the game; to hear them bend styles was like a dream come true. That loop was perfect, the way the drums knocked was ill, you could just let the beat play over and over. I like 'The Grain' too, reminds me of some Ultra Mag s---."

    What Makes 'Supreme Clientele' a Classic:

    "'Supreme Clientele' is just a unique album. There's no other album quite like it and it could never be duplicated. It was street, it was hip-hop and it had all that weird Wu s---. You could listen to it from beginning to end and when it was over, start it all over again."

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  • 2

    DJ Tony Touch

    DJ, Host of 'Toca Tuesdays' on SiriusXM's Shade 45

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "First seeing the album cover.... looks great on vinyl."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "'Buck 50' ...the energy , the sample and Redman."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "'One' ...produced by my brother JUJU from the beatnuts ...perfect intro."

    Favorite Verse(s) on the Album:

    "'Cherchez Le Ghost'.... when the female says "Tony's his name"... I loop this all the time during my DJ sets."

    Song From the Album You Wish You Had a Guest Verse On and Why:

    "'Cherchez Le Ghost.' Love the sample and the BPM is my lane."

    What Makes 'Supreme Clientele' a Classic:

    "Production, lyrics, features."

  • 3

    Vast Aire (of Cannibal Ox)

    Artist

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "I was hanging out one night with Del of Hiero -- he had a show at Wetlands in New York City so I went to show love. Ghostface had a street team handing out 'Supreme Clientele' posters. I grabbed one. Later that night uptown, I almost got jumped by three Blood Gang members, but only one of them would engage me; the other two just hovered around. For some reason, one of them swung at me and missed; then all of us scattered into the street. The one that tried to hit me tried to box with me, but I held my own as I had to drop my Discman and my 'Supreme Clientele' poster. Mind you, I was 2 blocks from home (Iron Galaxy Harlem).

    One of the other two threw a 40 ounce at me, it hit a car door and set the alarm went off. They ran off yelling gang codes. I picked up my Ghostface poster happy to be safe."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "'Mighty Healthy,' hands down. The classic break beat, vocals and pure rawness. I love that whole album, but every good album has one song that explains it all."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "The song 'One.' The vibe is overwhelming. Mighty Healthy, Uptown Saturday Night. All had great beats.

    Favorite Verse on the Album:

    "'Child's Play,' that whole story was deep for me. I could relate."

    Song From the Album You Wish You Had a Guest Verse On and Why:

    "'Buck 50.' It's clear why I should have been on that, I have enough Wu-Tang collabos now to prove my case. Im Vast Aire!"

    What Makes 'Supreme Clientele' a Classic:

    "Classic albums are only that due to being consistent. Showing patterns of sickness. Ghostface did it for NYC."

  • 4

    Apollo Brown

    Producer, Mello Music Group

    Favorite Memory Involving 'Supreme Clientele'

    "'Supreme Clientele' is actually one of my personal top 5 favorite albums of all time. Every time I mention this album being better than 'Ironman,' I get backlash. Whatever. This album is almost flawless and a complete listenable and enjoyable body of work.

    I remember purchasing my first copy of this album like it was yesterday. I was in college and I had just heard 'One' on the radio. Yes, I actually heard it on the radio. The 'Apollo Kids' video was already on TV, and the beat was stupid, so the anticipation for this album release in my mind was unbearable at this point.

    The Sam Goody up at Michigan State would run these one-hour Monday midnight releases for the albums that were coming out that Tuesday. 'Supreme Clientele' was on the list. I was definitely there. I bought my copy. I put it in my Sony Discman. As soon as 'Nutmeg' came on, I stopped walking and laid in the snow. The rest was history."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album and Why:

    "My favorite song on the album has always been 'Nutmeg' (produced by Black Moes-Art), followed closely by 'Mighty Healthy'(produced by JuJu from Beatnuts) and 'One' (produced by Mathematics).'Nutmeg' just changed the whole way I look at repetitive beats. As soon as that sample started I was locked in. It set me up for the rest of the album. 'Mighty Healthy' was just the type of raw s--- that I love. From the lyrics to the beat, everything fell into place nicely. '…rap Derek Jeter…' As far as 'One,' I'm a melody-driven producer and I loved the bassline melody of the sample. I used to recite every lyric on this song and not know what the hell Ghost was talking about. He said '…lay my balls on ice, the branches in my weed be the vein…,' lmao."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album and Why:

    My favorite beats on the album would be between, again, 'Nutmeg' and 'Stroke of Death.' They both are just filled with the grit and rawness that I love. Also, they both have this repetition that I just can't get enough of. Emcees should love beats with repetition, it really helps them shine more. '…slalf hash Indian…,' lol."

    What Makes the Album a Classic:

    "What doesn't make this album a classic? In 2000, this album surpassed everything to me. Including the Intro, outro and skits; 'Supreme Clientele' is 21 joints, one better than the next that you don't have to skip through. The lyrics and deliveries are on point, from Ghost and Rae, to guest features like Method Man, Redman and Solomon Childs. The beats are just dumb. That's good dumb. Such a great choice of samples and drum combos and the arrangement of the album couldn't have been better (even though it doesn't match the tracklisting on the back). To me, it's a classic because if I had to take five albums on a deserted island, this would be one of them. Simple."

    5. Favorite Verse on the Album and Why:

    "I never thought that I would ever say this in public, but my favorite verse on 'Supreme Clientele' is probably RZA's verse on 'Stroke of Death.' Man, although I'm a huge fan of RZA on the beats, I've never really been a fan of him on the mic. Sheeeiiit, he went in on this joint though. '…Tony Montana flow, creamy white havana Joes…'"

    Song From the Album You Wish You Had Produced and Why:

    "The joint on this album that I wish I produced would probably have to be 'Apollo Kids.' It's just a great joint with great progression, and it had such a BIG feel to it. The sample was done perfectly. You couldn't tell me shit if I made that joint, lol."

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  • 5

    Willie the Kid

    Artist

    Favorite Memory Involving 'Supreme Clientele':

    "I first heard 'Supreme Clientele' on vinyl. It was an advanced copy that my man had and wouldn't part with of course, so I had to get it converted to cassette just so I could listen to it before it officially dropped. I drove from Michigan to New York with my fam that winter and that tape was the theme music."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album and Why:

    ''One' simply because Ju Ju did the beat, a Wu and Beatnuts mash up is still a crazy idea. 'Mighty Healthy,' but I heard that on The Swarm compilation project already, still a underground Wu Classic tho -- the DuPont jacket in the video! 'Ghost Deini' and 'We Made It' are stand outs on the album too."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album and Why:

    "No question, favorite beat on the album is 'Stroke of Death.' Hands down still one of the illest beats ever. Funny thing tho, on the official LP that song isn't listed. I had it on that first tape I had tho! Ha!"

    What Makes the Album a Classic:

    "Visually, I thought it was one of the best artwork designs from The Clan. 'Ironman' is one of my favorite albums of all time, so the bar was set high for me to appreciate the sequel. The Wu brand was so broad and stretched out at the time too, so it was good to hear a project with RZA at the heart of it. But still it was 100% percent Ghost. 'Supreme Clientele' was raw. Something uncut for true Tony Starks fans."

    Favorite Verse on the Album and Why:

    "Superb on Ghost Deini or Gza on Wu Banga 101.

    But ultimately the best thing said on that album is when Ghost was speaking before  Nutmeg and said '...I don't mean no harm, it just happens when I approach a muthaf---ing rap n---- tryna spit his darts and can't spit em.' Ha! Classic P. Tone dialog -- it was just a bigger idea back then tho, to acknowledge that brothers can't really rap well."

    Song From the Album You Wish You Had a Guest Verse On and Why:

    "I was too young back then, man. Ha! My blades wasn't ready. But today, I would glide on 'We Made It.'"

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  • 6

    William E. Ketchum

    Writer, Reporter for Flint Journal

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "My favorite memory involving 'Supreme Clientele' actually came years after it came out. I always loved the production, Ghostface's flow, and the color/texture of his words, but there's plenty of lingo that I never understood at all. I was playing the album in the car, listening to 'One,' and I had a light bulb moment when I finally realized what Ghost meant when he said, "We want eight ravioli bags, two thirsty villains yelling bellyaches." It feels more like common sense now, but when I first got it I was just more interested in the aesthetic value of it. So I was immensely proud of myself for actually understanding a bit of Wu-Tang lingo on my own.

    I also remember lots of confusion with the album credits, because the tracklisting on the jewel case was different from the actual album. That was a tradition with several Wu-Tang albums I bought."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    "My favorite song on the album has always been 'One.' Ghost's flow is so water, and that the sample flip in that song is wonderful. I also love 'Apollo Kids,' 'Mighty Healthy,' 'Buck 50,' 'Malcolm' and 'Wu Banga 101.' 'Cherchez Le Ghost' was also well done for what it was: it was a clear mainstream song, but it was fun and still showcased Ghostface's personality really well."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "My favorite beat is 'Buck 50,' but it's truly difficult to choose just one. The entire album is produced very well. RZA didn't produce everything himself, but his fingerprints are all over the album in terms of the sound and the vibe. It has the classic Wu-Tang feel, but it's still distinctly Ghostface's show."

    Favorite Verse on the Album:

    "My favorite verse on the album is probably the first verse of 'One,' because of the great combo of flow, imagery, style and humor. The ravioli bags/bellyaches line I mentioned before. "Pull out this kite from this white bitch, talkin' bout 'Dear Ghost, you the only n---- I know, like when the cops come you never hide your toast," "Rhymes made of garlic." Not sure if it's the best, because there are lots of options, but that's a verse that really showcases everything I like about Ghostface."

    What Makes 'Supreme Clientele' a Classic:

    "The album is a classic because, for one, it establishes Ghostface (in my mind, and the minds of others) as the best member of the Wu-Tang Clan. It's absolutely the best Wu-Tang album of that era, and after the 1990s, period. Ghost had Rae's help for a lot of 'Ironman,' but this showed that he could more than hold his own -- and that he would be the most consistent member of the group in terms of solo albums. The urgency of Ghostface's flow and storytelling on this album still blows me away: I've always said that while Nas has the detailed narration of a patient, omnipresent bystander, Ghostface has the excited storytelling of someone running into the barbershop to tell something that just happened. This album solidified him as one of rap's most unique lyricists ever.

    Some may also say 'Supreme Clientele' is the beginning of the end of the Wu-Tang Clan, that it's the last truly classic album that any of the members have released. While I think they've released a lot of good music since then (especially Ghostface himself), I think many would agree that they haven't topped 'Supreme Clientele' since it released in 2000."

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  • 7

    DJ Soko

    DJ

    Favorite Memory Involving the Album:

    "I remember listening to 'One' in the car on the way to do a show in Montreal w Apollo Brown and he was explaining to me about how Juju from the Beatnuts made that beat and for all them years I had no idea he made that beat. I also remember the one year I went to this super suburban high school and the class that had graduated just before me voted it in their top 5 albums for that year. That s--- was funny as f--- to me for some reason."

    Favorite Song(s) on the Album:

    'Nutmeg' because depending on the gig, I love playing this out when I DJ. Also 'Mighty Healthy' 'cause that s--- slaps."

    Favorite Beat(s) on the Album:

    "Again, 'One' because the simplicity in that sample was so dope. Producers don't always need to do the most complex chops or loops even, as long as the sample is dope and the drums are knockin'. Sometimes less is more. "

    Favorite Verse(s) on the Album:

    "'One.' Because it was the most fun for me to learn all the meanings of what Ghost was talking about and dissecting his lingo."

    What Makes 'Supreme Clientele a Classic:

    "It's stood the test of time and the fact that we're sitting here talking about it all these years later like this."