Wu-Tang Clan’s resident space-age wordsmith, Ghostface Killah (a/k/a Ironman, a/k/a Tony Starks), closes out his contract with Epic by dropping a best-of compilation (in anticipation of a Def Jam debut due later this year). The disc mines all three of his solo releases, going back to his 1996 debut, Ironman, an album chock full of guns and cocaine that served as a blueprint for all the wanna-be Gambinos who litter the hip-hop charts. What’s most intriguing about Ghostface is the many personas he’s taken in his 10 years and running with the Wu-Tang. For every gangsta cut like "Poisonous Darts" and "Daytona 500," there are tracks that go down smoothly like "Camay" and the heartfelt "All That I Got Is You."
But Ghost stays true to the game even with the lovy-dovy raps, a trick that multi-platinum mainstream moguls Jay-Z and Ja Rule have yet to pull off. Half the fun of a Ghostface rap is in code-cracking his often outrageous vernacular — 1998’s Supreme Clientele found him delivering dense salvos of Wu-Tang street slang as he bobbed and wove his way through the RZA’s stoned, oft-kilter beats. "Hit mikes like Ted Koppel" he declares on "Child’s Play." "Apollo Kids" features the bellowing chorus "Hey yo these raps is like ziti" (what?) and a triumphant crush of horns. The result is the best Wu compilation to date, and from beginning to end the most entertaining collection of Clan tracks since 1993’s Enter the 36 Chambers.