Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Wu-Tang Clan Journey: "Ironman"

The most consistent member of the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah, definitely has a KEY ear for production, not to mention a unique yet entertaining way with words. And like MOST of the albums I own, this one holds a STRONG nostalgic vibe with me, as I received this as a "semi surprise" Christmas gift in 1996, and I own that same CD too.

I also recall trying to get my friend Andre to trade me this on cassette for Mobb Deep's "Hell On Earth," and this was about a few weeks before I started actively collecting CDs. I had no problem with Mobb's album (which I copped a few weeks later), I just couldn't wait to get this Ghostface joint. With all this being said, let's get to it. 

Release date- October 29, 1996

 All tracks were produced by The RZA except one.

1. "Iron Maiden" (Featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)

Beginning with this classic opener, we would see a continuous presence of Rae and Cappa all through this album. I remember going crazy when I first heard this song, and I get those similar vibes when I listen to it today. And regarding Ghost, he uttered a line in this one that I'm STILL trying to figure out to this day: "my telephone watch'll leave bartenders topless." What, lol???!!! Dope song nonetheless. 
*5 out of 5*

2. "Wildflower"

On this scathing track towards "the wrong type of woman," we see another side of Ghost that I don't think we have ever seen to this point. Some of the lines were harsh and funny, but you can't help but be entertained. 
*4 out of 5*

3. "The Faster Blade" (Featuring Raekwon)

A solo spot for Raekwon. Sounded like it *could've* been on the "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" album, and much like Ghost had a solo spot on that album (Wisdom Body), Rae gets similar treatment here. 
*4 out of 5*

4. "260" (Featuring Raekwon)

We get some form of a story for this song (and please don't ask me to attempt to try to figure out the topic); it's just another dose of the awesome chemistry between Rae and Ghost over a slammin' RZA production. 
*4 out of 5*

5. "Assassination Day" (Featuring The RZA, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and Masta Killa) 

To this day, I still don't know why Ghost was nowhere to be found on this track, and why Inspectah Deck was not credited for his appearance. (After a bit or research on my part, the following is what Ghostface had to say about not being part of this song during an interview with, --> "I found out I was a diabetic around that time, and I was just stressed out. My mind wasn’t all the way there. Certain joints I couldn’t really catch. I was going into a slump during Ironman. Like the one I had Masta Killa and Deck and RZA and them on, ‘Assassination Day.’ I couldn’t catch it. I let it live, but like, ‘Fuck it, I’ll back out of that one,’ and kept it moving." )

Other than that, this song is dope as hell. 
*4.5 out of 5*

6. "Poisonous Darts"

A 2:16 track here, with Ghost delivering the usual. This track hit a few mixtapes prior to this album's release, incorrectly titled as "The Sky's High." When I first heard this joint, I went completely crazy as you would expect.
 *4 out of 5*

7. "Winter Warz" (Featuring Raekwon, Cappadonna, U-God, and Masta Killa)

This no doubt was the best track on the "Don't Be A Menace" soundtrack. Everyone did their thing on this one, but the true star/show stealer here was Cappadonna, as he delivers his best verse ever. Classic.
*5 out of 5*

8. "Box In Hand" (Featuring Raekwon & Method Man)

Man, the future Wu-Massacre team absolutely kills RZA's banger of a track, especially Meth, as he just lights things up with his final verse. 
*5 out of 5*

9. "Fish" (Featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna, Produced by True Master)

Nothing about this song touches on or references anything dealing with "fish," but it's all good. It's still a True Master produced banger. 
*4 out of 5*

10. "Camay" (Featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)

A smooth sample by the late Teddy Pendergrass carries this one (in addition to the MCs), and it's a pretty dope track for the ladies, Wu-Tang style. 
*4out of 5*

11. "Daytona 500" (Featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)

This is another track I went crazy over when I first heard it. RZA's beat knocks as Rae, Ghost, and Cappa fire lyrical darts with aggressive ease. 
*5 out of 5*

12. "Motherless Child" (Featuring Raekwon)

One of the highlights on the "Sunset Park" soundtrack. We get another look into Ghost's storytelling prowess on this classic. 
*4 out of 5*

13. "Black Jesus" (Featuring Raekwon & U-God)

Another RZA produced banger, this time U-God absolutely kills one, in what was one of his top 5 verses ever. I also read in a review on this album that this song was missing the obvious "check out the rap kingpin, the black Jesus" sample, which I agreed with, but it doesn't hurt the song at all. 
*5 out of 5*

13. "After The Smoke Is Clear" (Featuring The RZA, Raekwon, and The Delphonics)

Looking at The Delphonics appearing here, you would think this would be one for the ages, and it isn't unfortunately. Honestly, everything here, including the beat, the lyrics from Rae, Ghost, and RZA, plus Delphonics' sung hook ALL comes across as phoned in. Clearly one of the worst songs on the album. 3 out of 5 (Phoned in? Not really. Granted, it could've been a bit better than what it was, but overall it's a good song. "4 out of 5" for this one.)

14. "All That I Got Is You" (Featuring Mary J. Blige)

The word on this song is that either Mary J. didn't give permission for her vocals to be used or it wasn't cleared. With all due respect, this song is still amazing, with or without Mary's vocals, and it's probably the most heartfelt song of Ghost's career. Ghost's story of how things were for him growing up must be heard to be appreciated. 
*5 out of 5"

15. "The Soul Controller"
This was cut from future pressings of the album due to an uncleared sample (which would plague/alter future albums from Ghost), but I'm thankful to still have to original pressing, because it's one of my favorite tracks on this album. I especially love the way RZA switches the beat during Ghost's third verse. 
*5 out of 5*

*16. "Marvel" (Featuring The RZA)

This was a bonus track for those who copped the CD (remember those days, when the CD most of the time would get the bonus tracks and the cassette didn't). It's your standard Wu-Tang fare, although RZA drops some serious lines in his verse referencing the womb. 
*4 out of 5*

I know there are quite a lot of "4 out of 5" ratings here (I updated the ratings on most of the songs.), but due to the consistent strong ratings for the songs, the nostalgic vibe (which is also STRONG), and my long time support for the Wu, this album gets the 5 star rating from me. Yes, it wasn't the album that "OB4CL" was, and it didn't try to be either. This was the first album in what would become a stellar discography from Ghost, as well as the only Wu-Tang related album to drop in '96.

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