Last week, we celebrated the anniversary of Ghostface Killah's Supreme Clientele by getting Boot Camp Clik's Sean Price to explain why Clientele is better than Ghost's Ironman. Afterward, we considered the matter closed and the discussion over. After all, what P says goes.
But there's one person who's never afraid to answer back to Price—his friend and frequent collaborator 9th Wonder. As it turns out, Sean and 9th have had this same debate about what was Ghost's best album many times before. Although Sean swears by Supreme Clientele, 9th prefers Ironman.
Intrigued by this difference of opinion, we got on the horn with 9th while he was in the studio working with (who else?) Sean Price and putting the finishing touches on Sean's upcoming album Mic Tyson. We asked the producer to make his best case why Ironman was the superior record.
Although 9th admitted that Clientele had better flows, beats, guest appearances, and lyrical structure than Ghost's debut, he argued that Ironman was still the better album overall. Sound crazy? Well, have a look at what he had to say and see if you agree...
Intro by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)
Written by 9th Wonder (@9thWonderMusic)
Supreme Clientele is better then Ironman because Supreme Clientele was a collection of songs but not a full idea. It had great songs but it was a collection of songs. What made Ironman was that it was more of an idea—I found out who Ghostface was.
Wu-Tang needed to be cryptic and they needed to be something you can really get into. Supreme Clientele is more on the surface, the writing on songs like “Cherchez LaGhost” was appealing to a larger audience. There’s nothing wrong with that—as long as you stay true to yourself. Whereas, you have to understand Wu-Tang Clan to understand Ironman.
Let’s talk about the albums that came out in ‘96. Ironman came out when competition was at its height. Ironman came out the same year as Outkast’s ATLiens, The Fugees’ The Score, Nas’ It Was Written,
Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night. Plus Ironman came out after Raekwon’s and The GZA’s album. You wanna talk about pressure? That’s some pressure.
Ironman sounded more like a pure Wu-Tang album. Supreme Clientele had JuJu from The Beatnuts and a lot of other producers contributing to Supreme Clientele—which again, were dope records. But Ironman sounded more like a classic, pure Wu album.
As far as it not being a true solo record like Sean Price said, that’s just a trademark of Wu-Tang Clan. Raekwon’s album was featuring Ghostface Killah. That was the best set-up ever, making albums featuring cats to let you know what’s coming up next. Cuban Linx worked so well with Ghostface being all over it, it just made perfect sense for Ghostface to put out an album featuring Raekwon and Cappadonna. And it was still Ghostface's album. He still owned it.
It’s true, the Wu was being counted out at the time of Supreme Clientele. That album couldn’t have came along at a better time to recharge the Wu-Tang Clan. Around 2000 rap was heavy into Ruff Ryders and Cash Money, as well as the the uprising of Rawkus and Slum Village. It was a feat to break through all of that.
But Ironman is the album that made Ghostface who he is. After that, “Triumph” came out and that’s when you started to see Ghostface’s style. You really didn’t get to understand and see Ghostface before that. He was the most stylish dude in the Wu and you didn’t get to really see that until Ironman and the “Triumph” video.
Let’s talk about the albums that came out in ‘96. Ironman didn’t come out at a time when people were falling out of love with hip-hop, it came out when the competition was at its height. Ironman came out the same year as Outkast’s ATLiens, The Fugees’ The Score, Nas’ It Was Written, Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night. Plus Ironman came out after Raekwon and The GZA’s albums. You wanna talk about pressure? That’s some pressure.
I’m not saying it’s easy to come out with a record that makes people say, “The Wu is back.” But to come out with an album after Raekwon is hot already—it’s kinda like another member of Young Money coming out and it’s gonna overtake Drake and Nicki. Are you gonna come on and make as much noise as them? That’s what Ironman did.
Ironman came out at a moment where there was a lot of classic records and it still stood up to them. For an album to come out when competition was tough and it still stood the test of time in the midst of the albums that came out during the time it came out...
It’s true, Ironman doesn’t factor into Ghost’s music anymore but if you talk to anybody that loves Ghostface Killah—if they had a choice of what album they would like him to go back and revisit—they’ll say Ironman before they say Supreme Clientele.
Supreme Clientele’s songs were very surface. If Supreme Clientele was your introduction to Ghostface, you wouldn’t know who Ghostface is. On Ironman, you know who he is. So it’s only right that Supreme came out second. because Ironman’s like, “Now that you know who I am, I can really take it there and just talk about anything.”
Supreme had the bigger hits and it still didn’t go platinum. Ironman went gold, and then turned around and went platinum, even though Supreme had the bigger hits.
It’s true, Ironman doesn’t factor into Ghost’s music anymore, but if you talk to anybody that loves Ghostface Killah—if they had a choice of what album they would like him to go back and revisit—they’ll say Ironman before they say Supreme Clientele.
That’s a rawer sound. Of course, Supreme is gonna to have more of an effect on in his career because it had his biggest hit on it. The Wu-Tang clan, they wanted to sell records—but not really. What I mean is, they probably [said to themselves], like, we wanna go platinum, but we wanna go platinum on our own terms.
What Sean Price was saying—that every album after Supreme Clientele is based on Supreme Clientele—might be true, but I don’t think it was on his own terms anymore. As opposed to Ironman, which was purely on his own terms.
Ironman laid his legacy. If you go down the history of the best debut albums ever made in hip-hop, Ironman is up there.