16 Songs, 1 Hour 3 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The first wave of classic Wu-Tang solo albums — Method Man’s Tical, GZA’s Liquid Swords, and Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx — were spare and cerebral. Ghostface Killah’s Ironman brought a burst of unbridled vulnerability to the crew’s aesthetic. Ghostface’s style fuses detail-oriented storytelling with stream-of-consciousness word association, but his delivery has the emotional urgency of a man perpetually on the verge of tears. Brilliant works like “Wildflower,” “Fasta Blade,” “Assassination Day,” Winter Warz” and “Box In Hand” adhere to the Wu-Tang’s spare, mysterious blueprint, but Ironman is defined by its references to ‘70s R&B. Ghostface is perfectly matched to the deconstructed Memphis soul samples of “Iron Maiden,” “260,” “Fish,” and “Motherless Child,” while the drumless Jackson 5 sample used in “All That I Got Is You” sets that song’s poignant tone. Ironman closes with its most overlooked but also most interesting songs. Arranged in a haunting trilogy, “Motherless Child,” “Black Jesus” and “After the Smoke Is Clear” are ruminations that fuse Black Nationalist theology, ghetto portraiture, and ancient blues.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The first wave of classic Wu-Tang solo albums — Method Man’s Tical, GZA’s Liquid Swords, and Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx — were spare and cerebral. Ghostface Killah’s Ironman brought a burst of unbridled vulnerability to the crew’s aesthetic. Ghostface’s style fuses detail-oriented storytelling with stream-of-consciousness word association, but his delivery has the emotional urgency of a man perpetually on the verge of tears. Brilliant works like “Wildflower,” “Fasta Blade,” “Assassination Day,” Winter Warz” and “Box In Hand” adhere to the Wu-Tang’s spare, mysterious blueprint, but Ironman is defined by its references to ‘70s R&B. Ghostface is perfectly matched to the deconstructed Memphis soul samples of “Iron Maiden,” “260,” “Fish,” and “Motherless Child,” while the drumless Jackson 5 sample used in “All That I Got Is You” sets that song’s poignant tone. Ironman closes with its most overlooked but also most interesting songs. Arranged in a haunting trilogy, “Motherless Child,” “Black Jesus” and “After the Smoke Is Clear” are ruminations that fuse Black Nationalist theology, ghetto portraiture, and ancient blues.

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