Ironman (Ghostface Killah album)
|Studio album by|
|Released||October 29, 1996|
|Ghostface Killah chronology|
|Wu-Tang Clan solo chronology|
|Singles from Ironman|
Ironman is the debut solo album by American rapper Ghostface Killah, released on October 29, 1996, by Epic Records. It was produced by fellow Wu-Tang Clan member RZA. The album's music draws prominently on blaxploitation films and soul samples. More so than on other solo debuts from the group's members, Ironman contains references to the Nation of Gods and Earths.
Ironman peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Many music critics have praised the album for Ghostface Killah's imaginative lyricism and RZA's production style, with some revering it as one of the greatest Wu-Tang solo albums.
Music and lyrics
Although a solo album, Ironman features many Wu-Tang collaborations and only four tracks feature Ghostface performing as the sole rapper. The two most prominently featured artists are Raekwon and Cappadonna, who both accompany Ghost and have their names on the album's cover. Raekwon appears on 13 of the 17 tracks, with "The Faster Blade" featuring him performing solo. Cappadonna appears on five tracks.
As opposed to earlier Wu-Tang solo projects, in which the performers involved were believed to be infallible, Ghostface is somewhat vulnerable on several of the album's songs. This is perhaps best illustrated on the single, "All That I Got Is You", which is essentially a tribute to his mother. However, the rest of the album contains many street oriented, and organized crime topics, similar to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., in which Ghostface was heavily involved. Ironman contains more of Ghostface Killah's highly praised unique uptempo, stream-of-consciousness rhyming style, which he would go on to further utilize on his highly acclaimed second studio album Supreme Clientele. The album also features a substantial amount of story-telling rap, such as the song "260." Producer RZA combines his dark keyboard tones and early-1970s soul samples, heavily used on Only Built for Cuban Linx... and Liquid Swords respectively, to engender a soulful and melodic, yet dark and harsh feel that later influenced many other Wu-Tang releases, such as Wu-Tang Forever and Uncontrolled Substance, as well as numerous other East Coast artists.
In his book The Tao of Wu, producer RZA points out that Ghostface's voice sounds noticeably different on Ironman from previous Wu-Tang releases. This is because Ironman was released following a flood that destroyed the basement studio in which those recordings were made. RZA had set up individual microphone preamps and compressors for each member, which were destroyed in the flood. Thus, the vocals on Ironman had to be recorded in a different studio with different equipment and settings, which slightly altered their sound.
|Christgau's Consumer Guide||A|
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Philadelphia Inquirer|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
In a positive review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau said that despite morally questionable actions in Ghostface Killah's narratives, "the detail is so vivid and complex that for once we get the gripping blaxploitation flick gangsta [rap] promises rather than the dull or murky one it delivers ... Most decisive of all, RZA's music is every bit as literal as Ghostface's rhymes and rap, giving up tunes, even hooks." Jon Pareles, the chief music critic for The New York Times, wrote in his review of the album, "Anger is just a stimulant for Ghostface Killah. On Ironman he raps about male bonding, the mating game and the violent ups and downs of the drug trade, in a voice raised just above the tone of conversation." Vibe columnist The Blackspot hailed the album as "proof of his matured lyrics and delivery and the Wu's strong family stand. If Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... had you open, prepare for another gaping wound."
In Spin magazine, Chris Norris wrote "Ghostface wreaks havoc with meaning and narrator reliability, flitting from gangster-film intrigue to grimly prosaic reality." Norris also praised RZA's production, stating "As usual, the Wu's sonic auteur provide awesomely dark and eccentric backdrops for the MC's dark maneuvers, mixing soul horns with horror-film keyboards." The Source took note of the album's "intense emotional moments" and stated, "The RZA does another masterful job, topping himself in terms of sonic diversity." Q magazine was less enthusiastic and felt the songs are "more about lyrical finesse than anything else".
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "the mood of the album can switch tones at the drop of the hat. The record is filled with inventive production and rhymes, and ranks as another solid entry in the Wu-Tang legacy." Stephen Thompson from The A.V. Club praised RZA's production, stating "Just as Terminator X was Public Enemy's secret weapon, The RZA is The Wu-Tang Clan's. Producer RZA, quietly working behind the scenes, has been the force behind Wu-Tang's raw, all over the map, Bruce Lee-meets-Gladys Knight sound. RZA has done it again on Ghostface Killah's Ironman." Thompson further stated "Attacking from all angles, Ironman is classic Wu-Tang, piecing together something unpredictable and vital-sounding."
- The information regarding accolades is adapted from acclaimedmusic.net, except for lists with additional sources.
- (*) signifies unordered lists
|About.com||United States||100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums||2008||34|
|Best Rap Albums of 1996||2008||4|
|Face||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||9|
|The Guardian||1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die||2007||*|
|Hip Hop Connection||The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005||2005||36|
|NME||Albums of the Year||1996||29|
|OOR||Netherlands||Albums of the Year||1996||25|
|Spex||Germany||Albums of the Year||1996||43|
|Vibe||United States||150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era (1992–2007)||2007||*|
|Vox||United Kingdom||Albums of the Year||1996||34|
|The Wire||Albums of the Year||1996||*|
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts selling 156,000 copies in its first week. The album went on to be certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over a million copies in the United States. This remains Ghostface Killah's best selling album. In Canada, the album peaked at number four on the Canadian Albums Charts and was certified gold for denoting sales of over 40,000 copies.
|1.||"Iron Maiden" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)||4:46|
|3.||"The Faster Blade" (featuring Raekwon)||2:27|
|4.||"260" (featuring Raekwon)||2:46|
|5.||"Assassination Day" (featuring Raekwon, The RZA, Inspectah Deck, & Masta Killa)||4:18|
|7.||"Winter Warz" (featuring Cappadonna, U-God, Masta Killa, & Raekwon)||4:40|
|8.||"Box in Hand" (featuring Raekwon & Method Man)||3:14|
|9.||"Fish" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)||3:50|
|10.||"Camay" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)||4:34|
|11.||"Daytona 500" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)||4:40|
|12.||"Motherless Child" (featuring Raekwon)||3:45|
|13.||"Black Jesus" (featuring Raekwon & U-God)||4:37|
|14.||"After The Smoke Is Clear" (featuring Raekwon, The RZA & The Delphonics)||3:17|
|15.||"All That I Got Is You" (featuring Mary J. Blige)||5:21|
|16.||"The Soul Controller" (featuring The Force MD's)||6:50|
|17.||"Marvel" (featuring The RZA)||5:10|
- "Assassination Day" features additional raps by Masta Killa.
- "Winter Warz", "Wu-Will Survive" and "After The Smoke Is Clear" feature uncredited raps by Raekwon.
- "Wu-Will Survive" and "Daytona 500" feature uncredited singing by The Force MD's.
- "Black Jesus" and "All That I Got Is You" feature uncredited vocals by Popa Wu.
- "After The Smoke Is Clear" and "Marvel" feature uncredited raps by The RZA.
- "Wu-Will Survive" is erroneously labelled as "Box In Hand". The original "Box In Hand" (featuring Method Man & Street) was replaced last minute and can be found on other releases, such as Hidden Darts: Special Edition.
- In 2001, "The Soul Controller" was removed from subsequent pressings of the album, due to sample rights not being cleared.
- "Marvel" is a CD only bonus track.
- "Iron Maiden" contains a sample of "Gotta Find a New World" by Al Green and dialogue excerpts from the film The Education of Sonny Carson.
- "Wildflower" contains dialogue excerpts from the film J.D.'s Revenge and contains a sample of "Someone" by Johnny Mathis.
- "The Faster Blade" contains samples of "Can't Go No Further and Do No Better" by The Persuaders and "El Rey Y Yo" by Los Angeles Negros.
- "260" contains a sample of "You Ought to Be with Me" by Al Green and dialogue excerpts from the film The Education of Sonny Carson.
- "Assassination Day" contains dialogue excerpts from the films The Usual Suspects and Crying Freeman.
- "Poisonous Darts" contains dialogue excerpts from the film Mystery of Chessboxing.
- "Winter Warz" contains samples of "I Think I'd Do It" by Z.Z. Hill and "Midnight Theme" by Manzel.
- "Wu-Will Survive" contains a sample of "Never Can Say Goodbye" by The Jackson Five.
- "Fish" contains a sample of "Change Is Gonna Come" by Otis Redding and dialogue from the film Crying Freeman.
- "Camay" contains a sample of "Can't We Try?" by Teddy Pendergrass.
- "Daytona 500" contains a sample of "Nautilus" by Bob James and "The Lady In My Life" by Michael Jackson.
- "Motherless Child" contains samples of "Motherless Child" and "Into Something (I Can't Shake Loose)" by O.V. Wright.
- "Black Jesus" contains a sample of "Riot" by Blackbyrds.
- "After The Smoke Is Clear" contains a sample of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin.
- "All That I Got Is You" contains a sample of "Maybe Tomorrow" by The Jackson 5 and dialogue excerpts from the film The Education of Sonny Carson.
- "The Soul Controller" contains a sample of Brandenburg Concerto#1 by J.S. Bach, an interpolation of "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, and dialogue excerpts from the films Carlito's Way and The Usual Suspects.
|Canada (Music Canada)||Gold||50,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
- "Official Release Date". RIAA.
- Emmanuel C.M. (2016-10-28). "Ghostface Killah Reflects on the Making of His 'Ironman' Album". XXL Magazine. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
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- RIAA search: Ironman. RIAA. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
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- RZA, The; Chris Norris (2009). The Tao of Wu. New York, NY: The Penguin Group. ISBN 978-1-59448-885-6.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ironman – Ghostface Killah". AllMusic. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
- Christgau, Robert (2000). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 0312245602. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- Tucker, Ken (November 8, 1996). "Ironman". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
- Coker, Cheo Hodari (November 9, 1996). "Killah, RZA Team to Produce Solid 'Ironman'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
- Goldman, Peter (November 10, 1996). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic Street)". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Q. London (165): 123. June 2000.
- Fernando, S. H. Jr. (December 12, 1996). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Rolling Stone. New York: 82. Archived from the original on March 30, 2002. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
- Catucci, Nick (2004). "Ghostface Killah". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 330–31. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". The Source. New York (87): 124. December 1996.
- Norris, Chris (February 1997). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Spin. New York. 12 (11): 90. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Christgau, Robert (1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (March 11). New York. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
- Pareles, Jon. Review: Ironman. New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-12-20.
- Ironman Album Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Adaso, Henry. 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums. About.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Adaso, Henry. Best Rap Albums of 1996. about.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- Snow, Shauna. Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press. Los Angeles Times. November 7, 1996.
- Ironman (booklet). Ghostface Killah. Epic/Razor Sharp. 1996. EK 67729.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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- "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0880". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
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- "Ghostface Killah Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1996". Billboard. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
- "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1997". Billboard. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
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