Timlaska’s Top Ten-est Albums of All-Time #8

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I spent a lot of time trying to fill this slot. I was torn between two albums that I absolutely love, Breaking Atoms by Main Source and Whut? Tha Album by Redman, but the more I listened to those albums the less I could justify including them in the top ten-est rap albums of all time based on the criteria laid out in this space two weeks ago.  So I pondered, and tried to figure out what I could put in this slot.  I already had every album I wanted to include on this list plotted out and ready to go.  Then it hit me I needed to move Ghostface Killah’s Iron Man from its previous position which was so high because it was going to be the de facto Wu album to the number 8 slot and move Enter the 36 Chambers into the slot held by Ghostface.  After all Enter the 36 Chambers is a monster that has earned its right to represent itself. 

So here we are at number 8 with what I consider to be the best of the Wu Tang solo records and one of my favorite records of all time.  One could argue that any of the first round of Wu Tang solo records could claim a top spot on this list, but you would be wrong.  Tical was very good for its time, but Meth’s style on the record has become dated; Liquid Swords aged horribly mostly due to Gza’s anti-personality; and Return to the 36 Chambers while fantastic was just a little too uneven.  That leaves Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx and Ghostface Killah’s Iron Man.  I feel like you can make an argument for either of these albums being the high point of mid 90s NYC street rap perhaps only being matched by Mobb Deep’s The Infamous and Hell on Earth, but I can’t give any credence to an album where Havoc is prominently featured on the mic.  So I went with my personal favorite of the two.  Iron Man.

There is something special about this record, I wouldn’t say it is the high point creatively for Ghostface and the Rza, that would be Supreme Clientele, and it isn’t even the high point for ghost as a lyricist.  But there is something about this album that makes me revisit it for weeks at a time.  It has a cohesiveness that the others lack, still holds to the signature Wu sound which you could easily argue was the last sound out of New York that really mattered.  Sorry Jay-z’s The Blueprint was cool and all but it was not redefining shit.  Where Supreme Clientele and Bulletproof Wallets highlight the verbal ability of Ghost they are lacking in a constant that tethers you to the music, causing the albums to lose urgency as time goes on.  Pretty Toney, while enjoyable was the start of the downfall of Ghost as a creative entity eventually leading horrifically boring projects like Fish scale and More Fish. Sure they had moments but they were few and far between.  I think what makes Iron Man so special is the emotional core and the rawness of the sound.  It resonates through time and the music throughout the record is phenomenal, with a perfect mix of Wu Tang battle raps, street revelry and introspective genius that I think I will still be revisiting well into my latter years.   

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