Dennis Coles, better known by his stage name Ghostface Killah, is an American rapper and prominent member of the influential hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Born on May 9, 1970, Ghostface Killah played a significant role in shaping the group’s breakthrough success with their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), which catapulted its members into pursuing solo careers with varying degrees of success.
Ghostface Killah’s unique style, distinct voice, and vivid storytelling abilities have earned him a devoted fan base and widespread critical acclaim throughout his career. With numerous solo albums and collaborations, including his most recent release, “Saigon Velour Pt. II” in 2023, he continues to leave a lasting impact on hip-hop and inspire aspiring artists.
In addition to his musical accomplishments, Ghostface Killah has ventured into fashion with his Killah Wear clothing line, featuring a range of hats and beanies showcasing his signature branding. As a multifaceted artist, he remains an influential figure in the hip-hop community and beyond, solidifying his status as a true icon in the industry.
Early Life and Career
Birth and Early Life
Ghostface Killah, born as Dennis Coles on May 9, 1970, was raised in Staten Island, New York. Growing up in poverty, the experiences and challenges he faced during his childhood played a significant role in shaping his music and lyrical content.
Joining Wu-Tang Clan
Ghostface Killah was a key figure in the formation of the iconic Wu-Tang Clan. As a roommate of the group’s founder RZA, he helped to bring together the other seven members. In 1995, he extensively guest-starred on fellow Clan member Raekwon’s debut album, “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…”, appearing on almost every song and receiving nearly equal billing.
In 1996, Ghostface Killah launched his solo career with the album “Ironman,” which was well-received by music critics. Over the years, he has continued to find success, releasing critically acclaimed albums such as “Supreme Clientele” and “Fishscale.” Despite his successful solo career, Ghostface Killah remains an integral part of the Wu-Tang Clan, collaborating on numerous projects with the group.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why the mask?
Ghostface Killah got his name and persona from the 1979 martial arts film, “Mystery of Chessboxing.” His stage name was inspired by a character from the film who wore a mask. In the early days of Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface would often perform wearing a mask to conceal his identity as he was wanted by law enforcement at the time. The mask has since become one of his unique trademarks.
Where was he shot?
In the early ’90s, just before the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” Ghostface Killah was shot in the neck during an altercation. He fortunately survived the incident and later went on to release successful music both with the group and as a solo artist.
Yes, Ghostface Killah has been open about his struggle with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed in 1996 and has since made efforts to raise awareness about the condition and advocate for proper health care.
Ghostface Killah began his solo career in 1996 with the release of his debut album, “Ironman.” However, he first gained fame as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan in 1993, with their debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).”
Some of Ghostface Killah’s popular albums include “Ironman” (1996), “Supreme Clientele” (2000), “Fishscale” (2006), and “Apollo Kids” (2010). He has achieved considerable success with his solo career and consistently receives praise from critics and fans alike.
Throughout his career, Ghostface Killah has collaborated with numerous artists across various genres. Some notable collaborations include his work with fellow Wu-Tang Clan members, as well as artists such as MF DOOM, Jadakiss, Kanye West, and Amy Winehouse. One of his prominent collaborations was with producer Adrian Younge on the album “Twelve Reasons to Die” (2013).
From the archives:
“It just caught me out there, but God will hit you with whatever and I had to respect that,” admits Ghostface discussing how he came to grips with being diagnosed with Adult Onset or Type 2 diabetes. “It took me a while to understand why me but now I don’t even get mad no more cuz I would have been out there on some big shit knocking these bullshit rappers out, going back and forth to jail and probably fucking everything in sight. Instead he slowed me down like here hold that.”
In ’96 Ghost, one of the original Wu Tang clansmen, was set to release his debut “Ironman” when he started noticing symptoms. “I was pissing all day, losing weight, dry mouthed and dizzy with blurred vision,” Ghost remembers. “I didn’t know what that shit was. The doctors in Staten Island didn’t detect it, so I went to Long Island and they came up with the diabetic shit. My sugar was mad high, like 500 and change, but it was a little relief to know what it was.”
Like many Americans who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Ghost’s affliction was attributed to a poor diet and lack of exercise. His doctor prescribed insulin along with a healthier regiment. That meant putting down the blunts and chilling on the alcohol and sweets.
“When I cut them blunts out my legs came back,” explained Ghost. “I don’t drink that much and I try to avoid chocolate. It’s about discipline. You can quit the cigarettes and all that other shit but as a diabetic you fiend for sweets. When you sitting at the crib staring at them Oreos, you gonna fuck around and go in. You want those Fruity Pebbles and all that shit. I had to learn how to just chill, exercise, drink protein shakes and monitor my sugar. Checking my sugar was something I wasn’t doing for a long time, especially cuz of my schedule and because it hurts like a motherfucker when you constantly poking your finger. I used to just go by my body to determine when I needed to take my insulin but I really need to start regularly monitoring my shit. You can live a long time with diabetes but it’s all about the diet and taking care of yourself. Take your medicine and eat right but exercise is #1.” And that’s word from Tony Starks.
Magazine: King Magazine
Date: June 08, 2005