0123. Ghostface Killah - Ironman



Right from the intro, things have changed. Instead of a kung fu movie sample, we get a bold challenge of a street kid to a rival crew: “I’ll put trademarks around your fucking eyes.” Ghost’s Ironman is an erratic and entertaining ride, full of idiosyncratic detail in its stories of street crimes and groupies. Whereas Raekwon’s masterful Cuban Linx invoked an atmosphere of the dark streets of a Hong Kong gangster flick, this one is all Stapleton, Staten Island. Ghost peppers his tales with moments of unexpected honesty and non-sequitars that come off unintentionally comical, while exhibiting a manic range of emotions that his stoic partner Rae would never allow. RZA has bumped up the production budget without abandoning his soulful sample-heavy sound, so this album is really the culmination of his classic style before he veered off into keyboards in the late 90s. He reuses some samples in different songs, while others just employ simple loops for Ghost’s unique flow, but the sound is less dusty, more classic soul. The sole guest production is “Fish” by True Master, though Wu heads will recognize his characteristic style of chopped up interlocking samples. Several tracks unfortunately feature Cappadonna (yes, that’s him on the cover looking confused by a shoelace on a Wallabee), but some say that the best verse of his career is on “Winter Warz.” For the worst verse of his career, see every Cappadonna solo album and guest appearance. Still, Ironman has its own unique feel, just as each original Wu debut did; this one is soulful, gritty, unpredictable, raunchy, experimental. Poppa Wu even stops in for a quick lesson on man, woman, the science of life, the cosmos, and pass that blunt, boy. But it’s really Ghostface’s complex flow that makes this album so endlessly listenable, as his verses are filled with random references and intricate schemes. I still don’t understand some of the stuff he’s babbling about but I love it just the same. This is peak Wu Tang. Tell ’em Ghost: “Our shit is peace/Where’s the Nobel?”