It’s no secret that I’m a Wu-Tang Clan superfan.
I know obscure trivia about the group. I have their logo on my coffee mug. I own old issues of The Source and XXL with the group on the cover. I also own items like the “Protect Ya Neck” cassette single, the “C.R.E.A.M.” single on vinyl, and the actual Purple Tape (the cassette version of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…).
One of the more obscure Wu-related items I own is a copy of
The World According to Pretty Toney, a 2007 book by Ghostface Killah with J. Brightly.
I had pretty much forgotten about it, but in late December, I had tickets to see Ghostface live, and in the days leading up to the show, I began listening to nothing but Ghost. I have his discography (as well as what he did on other Clan-affiliated albums) on my iPod Classic, so I would hit play and let it run.
And after one album ended, the next one to come on was the spoken word audio disc companion of The World According to Pretty Toney that came in the book, the way textbooks in the early ’00s would have a CD-Rom stuck in an envelope on the inside back cover.
I was immediately reminded of how strange and different and random and esoteric and hilarious and how just…Ghostface it all was.
I just checked and it is currently in 5,068,067th place in total book sales on all of Amazon, which is actually 93,218 spots below my first book, The Hip-Hop 10. (This marks the first and last time I will outshine Dennis Coles in anything.)
It was published by MTV Books so Ghost did some spots on MTV to promote it:
It’s basically impossible to describe the book.
It’s sort of a coffee table book – its layout is horizontal, the pages are glossy and full of photos, and there are very few words in the entire thing, which are written entirely in caps, of course.
Marketed as a “singular twist on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for the hip-hop generation,” the entire book is made up of a collection of two-page vignettes: the left-hand page includes a few words of wisdom from Ghostface and his picture while the next is a visual representation of whatever he’s speaking about (or as close as a photograph can get).
The book consists of five chapters:
Chapter I Livin’: Y’ALL SLEEPIN’ TOO MUCH.
The Livin’ chapter includes gems such as, “Make sure you get that bullshit out of your eyes,” “Real men take showers! Leave the bubble baths to the ladies,” and “Brush your tongue, son. That’s where your stink breath is hiding.”
Chapter II Bobbin’ & Weavin’: GOTTA STAY ON POINT.
Bobbin’ & Weavin’ is a mix of fortune cookie wisdom and ‘hood advice like, “Be nice to the crackheads. Sometimes they’re all you got,” and “Make sure your bite is bigger than your bark, son.”
Chapter III Wizdom: HOW YOU GONNA TELL THE CHICK SHE CAN’T SHIT?
This is the chapter on relationships (“Wiz” is slang for your girl) with dating advice you won’t see anywhere else. My favorites are “Pillow talk is a no, no. Don’t be laid up running your mouth” and “Survey says, your wiz must wait at least 8 months before she can take a dump at your house.”
Chapter IV The Hustler’s Diet: JUST LOOK IN THE CABINETS.
This is literally just four different ways to enjoy Ramen noodles: 1. classic; 2. with Louis Rich turkey (“gotta be Louis Rich”); 3. with cheese; and 4. with roast chicken.
Chapter V Toneology: WE GOTTA BRING IT BACK TO THE TABLE.
The final chapter is a collection of Ghostface aphorisms on any number of subjects or just life in general, including:
- “Don’t let a muthafucka kiss your baby! You don’t know where he’s been”
- “The champ: one who wins!”
- “Heavy head motherfuckers — if you can’t handle your liquor, don’t drink!”
- “Don’t fear death! What we go through here on earth is only a trial.”
Ghost himself narrates the audio disc, his opening line being, “Yo, yo, whassup, yo? I wanna thank the whole universe for buyin’ the book from the humans to the roaches.”
The disc, which includes far more than the book itself but is still only fifty minutes, is not simply an audio reading of the words contained within The World According to Pretty Toney. Rather, it’s more of a free-flowing expansion on the topics contained in the pages, almost like an audio annotation of every topic in the book (“This comin’ from your boy, man, holla at me, man. Pretty Toney, man. The world according to me, man. This how I see it.”) that is offset by chiming electronic bells like you’re in the elevator of Ghost’s brain:
- “Think of a new invention, man — make a new toilet bowl or somethin’.”
- “Scrub your tongue, man. That’s where all your bad breath, your little fuckin’ corroded bacteria be runnin’ around, tap dancin’ on ya fuckin’ tongue at night, son.”
- “When you get in the shower…wash your fuckin’ face first, man. Then wash your nuts. Don’t wash your nuts then wash your face. You feel me? You goin’ backwards.”
- “Don’t get me wrong — sometimes a crackhead deserves to get knocked out because they be doin’ that bullshit.”
- “I’m sorry for callin’ y’all bitches, baby, ’cause I love all y’all chicks, man…fat, skinny, man, ugly ones, green ones, man, I love y’all all. Just in case Oprah get the CD don’t start shoutin’ me out, this is real talk.”
- “We slayed Mother Earth. The Earth is damn near finished now. We done raped her for everything she had…it’s man’s fault. We did it to ourselves, man. And I respect your man Al Gore for this greenhouse effect shit, goin’ out talkin’ and all that other shit. We had bumblebees, G. I don’t see bumblebees no more in the summer. I don’t even see the kids catchin’ lightning bugs…you don’t see ladybugs.”
- “Stay away from the pork…lay off of that swine.”
The list of quotes are endless.
Ghostface is one of the most unique, charismatic, and unique artists in recent memory and this book perfectly encapsulates who he is and how he thinks.
There will never be another Ghostface Killah and there will never be a book like The World According to Pretty Toney.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.