Method Man may have hammed it up on a sitcom, and RZA could be the Henry Mancini of hipper-than-thou cinema, but 13 years removed from the guttural debut of Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah has emerged as the artistic victor of the influential group's erratic solo lives. 2004's The Pretty Toney Album was a confident affirmation of Ghost's belief in his own style; now the Ironman follows up with a thrilling, emotionally schizophrenic knockout. From the inspirational bombast of "Champion" to solid last works from late rap figures ODB and producer J Dilla, Ghostface's mood swings in a flash, a trait as fascinating as it is intentional. His new partner-in-grime MF Doom contributes several tracks, but none as exhilarating as "Underwater," a Spongebob-inspired bacchanal of pop culture. The album's all-star collaborators, however, adapt to Ghostface, not the other way around. In doing so, he not only ensures his direction remains inexplicable to critics and diehards alike, but also that he's created the most distinctive Wu spinoff to date.
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