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 moreÂ I listened to those albums the less I could justify including them in theÂ top ten-est rap albums of all time basedÂ on the criteria laid out in this space two weeks ago.Â So I pondered, andÂ tried to figure out whatÂ I could put in this slot.Â Â I already had every album I wanted to include on this list plotted out and ready to go.Â 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 albumÂ to the number 8 slot and moveÂ Enter theÂ 36 ChambersÂ into the slot held by Ghostface.Â AfterÂ all Enter theÂ 36 ChambersÂ is a monster thatÂ hasÂ earned its right to represent itself.Â
So here we are at number 8Â with whatÂ I consider to be the best of the Wu TangÂ solo records and one of my favorite records of all time.Â 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 beÂ wrong.Â Tical was very good for its time, but Methâ€™s style on the record has become dated; Liquid Swords aged horribly mostly due to Gzaâ€™s anti-personality; and Return to the 36 Chambers while fantastic was just a little too uneven.Â That leaves Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx and Ghostface Killah’s Iron Man.Â IÂ feel like you can make an argument for either of these albums being the high point of midÂ 90s NYCÂ street rap perhaps only being matched byÂ Mobb Deep’s The Infamous and Hell on Earth, but I canâ€™t give any credence to an albumÂ where Havoc is prominently featured on the mic.Â So I went with my personal favorite of the two.Â Iron Man.
There is something special about this record, I wouldnâ€™t say it is the high point creatively for Ghostface and the Rza, that would beÂ Supreme Clientele, and it isnâ€™t evenÂ the high point for ghost as a lyricist.Â But there is something about this album that makes me revisit it for weeks at a time.Â It has a cohesiveness that the others lack, still holds to the signatureÂ WuÂ sound which you could easily argue was the last soundÂ out ofÂ New York that really mattered.Â SorryÂ Jay-z’s TheÂ Blueprint was cool and all but it was not redefining shit.Â Â Where Supreme Clientele and Bulletproof Wallets highlight theÂ verbal ability of Ghost they are lacking in a constant that tethers you to the music, causingÂ the albums to loseÂ urgency as time goes on.Â Pretty Toney, while enjoyable was the start of theÂ downfall of Ghost as a creative entity eventually leadingÂ horrifically boring projects like Fish scale and More Fish. Sure they had moments butÂ they were few and far between.Â I think what makes IronÂ Man so special is the emotionalÂ core and the rawness of the sound.Â Â It resonates through time and the music throughout the record is phenomenal,Â with a perfect mix of Wu Tang battle raps,Â street revelry and introspective genius thatÂ I thinkÂ I will still be revisiting well into my latter years.Â Â