Sunday, November 9, 2008

Selected Retrospective: Ghostface Killah | Ironman

After superlative solo records by Wu-Tang Clan members Raekwon (Only Built for Cuban Linx...) and Genius/GZA (Liquid Swords), it was Ghostface Killah's turn. His debut Ironman, released in 1996 and also billed to Raekwon and Cappadonna, makes its den in old soul samples and ripe tales of drug deals gone bad ("260," see video above), violent misogyny ("Wildflower"), and well, everyday gangsta shit. Wu-Tang architect RZA produced the whole album and his trademark hard bass drums and crisp snares, rolling basslines, eerie keys, and razor-sharp samples abound (see "Camay" and "Motherless Child" as ideal examples.)

Ghostface Killah here is beginning his assent to MC superiority. At his most unleashed, Ghostface is a free-associative MC, searching for words and phrases that might rhyme but will seldom make logical sense. No matter though. His kinetic, freeform rapping style is only matched by his barely controlled enthusiasm and the level of detail in his rhymes ("Grab the pliers for the channel/fix the hanger on the TV.") His gangster alter ego, Tony Starks (note the alternate spelling to the Iron Man comic book hero) would continue to reappear on future records, often concocting morbid tales of coke-slanging. It would be another four years until his sophomore record Supreme Clientele would be released to widespread acclaim.

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