Jump to content

Ironman (Ghostface Killah album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 29, 1996[1]
GenreHip hop
Ghostface Killah chronology
Supreme Clientele
Wu-Tang Clan solo chronology
Liquid Swords
The Pillage
Singles from Ironman
  1. "All That I Got Is You"
    Released: September 22, 1996
  2. "Daytona 500"
    Released: October 7, 1996
  3. "Motherless Child"
    Released: October 29, 1996

Ironman is the debut studio 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.[2] It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.[3] 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.[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

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 12 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.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Consumer GuideA[8]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[9]
Los Angeles Times[10]
The Philadelphia Inquirer[11]
Rolling Stone[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[14]
The Source4/5[15]

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."[17] 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."[18] 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."[5]

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."[16] 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."[15] Q magazine was less enthusiastic and felt the songs are "more about lyrical finesse than anything else".[19]

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."[7] 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."[4]


  • (*) signifies unordered lists
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums[20] 2008 34
Best Rap Albums of 1996[21] 2008 4
Face United Kingdom Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 9
The Guardian 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die[citation needed] 2007 *
Hip Hop Connection The 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005[citation needed] 2005 36
NME Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 29
OOR Netherlands Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 25
Spex Germany Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 43
Vibe United States 150 Albums That Define the Vibe Era (1992–2007)[citation needed] 2007 *
Vox United Kingdom Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 34
The Wire Albums of the Year[citation needed] 1996 *

Commercial performance[edit]

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.[22] 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.[3] 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.

Track listing[edit]

Track listing and credits adapted from Tidal.[23] All tracks produced by RZA, except where noted.

1."Iron Maiden" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)4:46
  • Coles
  • Diggs
3."The Faster Blade" (featuring Raekwon)
  • Diggs
  • Woods
4."260" (featuring Raekwon)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
  • Woods
5."Assassination Day" (featuring Raekwon, Inspectah Deck & RZA)4:18
6."Poisonous Darts"
  • Coles
  • Diggs
7."Winter Warz" (featuring Cappadonna, Masta Killa, Raekwon & U-God)
8."Box In Hand" (featuring Method Man and Streetlife)3:14
9."Fish" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna; produced by True Master)
10."Camay" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)
11."Daytona 500" (featuring Raekwon & Cappadonna)
12."Motherless Child" (featuring Raekwon)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
  • Woods
  • Earl Randle
  • James Shaw
13."Black Jesus" (featuring Raekwon & U-God)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
  • Woods
  • Hawkins
14."After The Smoke Is Clear" (featuring The Delfonics)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
15."All That I Got Is You" (featuring Mary J. Blige)5:21
16."The Soul Controller" (featuring Force MDs)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
  • Coles
  • Diggs
Total length:64:48
25th Anniversary bonus track
17."All That I Got Is You (Remix)" (featuring Mary J. Blige)
  • Coles
  • Diggs
  • Blige
  • Mizell
  • Gordy
  • Richards
  • Perren
Total length:68:53


  • "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" (featuring Raekwon & Method Man) 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.
  • "The Faster Blade" and "Assassination Day" don't have Ghostface Rapping.

Sample credits




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[31] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 60,000
United States (RIAA)[33] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Official Release Date". RIAA.
  2. ^ Snow, Shauna. Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press. Los Angeles Times. Nov 7, 1996.
  3. ^ a b RIAA search: Ironman Archived 2012-05-24 at archive.today. RIAA. Retrieved 2010-07-19.
  4. ^ a b Thompson, Stephen. Review: Ironman. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2009-12-20.
  5. ^ a b The Blackspot (December 1996 – January 1997). "Revolutions: Ghostface Killah – 'Ironman'". Vibe. Vol. 4, no. 10. New York. p. 186. Archived from the original on May 9, 2024. Retrieved May 9, 2024 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ RZA, The; Chris Norris (2009). The Tao of Wu. New York, NY: The Penguin Group. ISBN 978-1-59448-885-6.
  7. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ironman – Ghostface Killah". AllMusic. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 0312245602. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  9. ^ Tucker, Ken (November 8, 1996). "Ironman". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
  10. ^ Coker, Cheo Hodari (November 9, 1996). "Killah, RZA Team to Produce Solid 'Ironman'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Goldman, Peter (November 10, 1996). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman (Razor Sharp/Epic Street)". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. F10 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ A. Thompson, Paul (October 9, 2022). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 9, 2022.
  13. ^ Fernando, S. H. Jr. (December 12, 1996). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Rolling Stone. New York. p. 82. Archived from the original on March 30, 2002. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  14. ^ Catucci, Nick (2004). "Ghostface Killah". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 330–331. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  15. ^ a b Coolidge, Warren (December 1996). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". The Source. No. 87. New York. p. 124.
  16. ^ a b Norris, Chris (February 1997). "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Spin. Vol. 12, no. 11. New York. p. 90. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (1997). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. No. March 11. New York. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  18. ^ Pareles, Jon. Review: Ironman. New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-12-20.
  19. ^ "Ghostface Killah: Ironman". Q. No. 165. London. June 2000. p. 123.
  20. ^ Adaso, Henry. 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Archived 2015-04-17 at the Wayback Machine. About.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  21. ^ Adaso, Henry. Best Rap Albums of 1996 Archived 2011-01-16 at the Wayback Machine. about.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Credits / Ironman / Ghostface Killah". Tidal. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0880". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
  25. ^ "Ghostface Killah | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  26. ^ "Ghostface Killah Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  27. ^ "Ghostface Killah Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  28. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Ghostface Killah – Ironman" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  29. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1996". Billboard. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  30. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1997". Billboard. Retrieved January 27, 2021.
  31. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Ghostface Killah – Ironman". Music Canada.
  32. ^ "British album certifications – Ghostface Killah – Ironman". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  33. ^ "American album certifications – Ghostface Killah – Ironman". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]