GZA – “Liquid Swords” review

4 years have passed since the GZA (originally known as The Genius) dropped his truly underrated Easy Mo Bee primarily produced solo debut Words from the Genius under Cold Chillin’ Records but now with his newfound fame as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, he invites every single member of the Clan except for Cappadonna to make his comeback as well as what is rightfully considered to be the greatest Wu-Tang solo album along with Raekwon’s solo debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (which only came out 3 months prior). The Clan’s de facto leader RZA every single track on here with the exception of the closer & it is among his darkest. GZA’s lyricism & delivery are his hungriest as well. The album kicks off with the title track, which starts off with a sample from Shogun Assassin as well as RZA talking about how they’re gonna take us back to the source & then GZA goes deep into how he “flows like the blood on a murder scene” & he drops “megaton bombs more faster than you blink” over a loop of Willie Mitchell’s Groovin’. It then transitions into the next track Duel of the Iron Mic where he & fellow Wu-Tang members Ol’ Dirty Bastard (albeit the hook), Masta Killa & Inspectah Deck go in about hip hop & the ghetto over an eerie David Porter sample. The track Living in the World Today sees GZA getting more socially conscious but the production’s still pretty rugged. The track Cold World features him & Deck vividly tell about the rough ghetto life over a haunting sample of Plastic People by Frank Zappa with a perfectly incorporated sample of Rocket Love by Stevie Wonder for the hook. The track Labels is a perfect example of why GZA is nicknamed The Genius, because his record label name dropping wordplay throughout is FLAWLESS! The track 4th Chamber feels somewhat like an Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) outtake mainly because of the fact that GZA’s verse is at the very end but it was placed in the track listing perfectly. For those who overlook RZA’s MCing abilities, he drops one of my favorites lines of his on here which is “you can see the weakness of a man right through his iris”. Like that’s some real shit right there. It then follows into the next track Shadowboxin’, where he teams up with Method Man to get into battle rhyme mode & RZA chops up the Ann Peebles track Troubles, Heartaches & Sadness on here PERFECTLY! Especially with the sped-up “oh man” vocal sample, which I believe adds a lot more eeriness to the track. The track Investigative Reports sees GZA getting with U-God (albeit the hook), Raekwon & Ghostface Killah to discuss their “jungle way of life” vividly & the symphonic loop really helps bring their storytelling to life. The track Swordsman is pretty much about thinking for yourself & the beat on here gives me an ominous atmosphere. The track I Gotcha Back sees GZA talking about “Criminals Robbing Innocent Motherfuckers Everytime” & I feel the horns on here fit the vibe really well throughout. The album finishes off with the 4th Disciple produced Killah Priest performed B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), where Priest gives his arguably his best track of all-time by sincerely delivering knowledge & the beat on here makes me feel like I’m walking towards the pearly gates of Heaven every time I hear it. When talking about the best Wu-Tang solo album, this immediately comes to people’s minds for several reasons. The lyrics are book AND street smart, the deliveries are mostly rough, it mostly has a dark atmosphere throughout & it’s just overall perfectly crafted

Score: 5/5

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