And so the return of the [a]Wu Tang Clan[/a]'s most gifted wordsmith is as mysterious and unheralded as all his compadres....
Thus it is our pleasure to inform you that [I]NME[/I] knows next to nothing about this fine follow-up to '96's brilliant debut solo offering 'Ironman'. We know that Wu soundmeister The RZA's contribution is restricted to only a couple of (excellent) raps. We know that in his place musical and production duties are handled by the likes of The Beatnuts, Ghostface himself, and Ghost's cousin/barber (it says here) Mo. What tracks they produce is a secret, though.
So all we have is Ghost's intricate narrative. The plot that threads through the album is loosely a continuation of his Tony Starks/ 'Ironman' persona - the tortured scientist/ superhero he introduced on Raekwon's 'Only Built 4 Cuban Linx' - but what still marks Ghostface out as one of the elite Wu members is his ability to paint a dense, cinematic picture with his raps: tales as involved and complicated as a Tarantino storyboard - and frequently as messy.
. They decide against killing their target, a Kennedy, in the end. Too easy.
There are plenty of other highlights: 'Stroke Of Death''s genuinely innovative - if queasy - scratching; 'One''s strident soul introduction to the album; Redman, Ghostface, Method Man (hooray!) and Cappadonna (boo!) exchanging blows on 'Buck 50'... but, as with most Wu releases, one-sixth of the album could've been shaved off to make it truly essential.
Which is why 'Supreme Clientele' doesn't quite scrape the heights of 'Ironman'. It is, however, considerably better than the solo follow-ups of other Wu members such as GZA, Raekwon and Method Man, and the first really good Wu album since ODB's 'Nigga Please'. And one really good album every five months is surely more than adequate.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday