GZA ”Liquid Swords” (Hip Hop) [Album/Review]

10/10

Year: 1995
Genre: Hip Hop
Label: Geffen Records

This album was the first one I heard from the mighty Wu-Tang universe and I fell in love immediatly. It has an eeire atmosphere, where RZA’s (producer mastermind of Wu-Tang) creepy samples elevate the songs to the stars. Even now almost 25 years later it sounds fresh.

Released in November 1995, in Wu-Tang Clans youth it made a massive impact in the world of Hip Hop, it went to place nine on the Billboard 200 chart and number two on the R&B/Hip Hop album chart. GZA or Genius has probably made the most eerie of all Wu Tang members’ albums. It was recorded in RZA’s basement studio out in Staten Island (New York) during the early parts of 1995, just as Raekwon finished his first solo album ”Only built for Cuban Linx”, they immediately started the recording of this one.

When RZA was interviewed about this, he replied: ”We were on a roll, and it was the perfect time to get in the studio and just do it.” ”I’m on a different level, trying to be cinematic,” he remarked. “Like that shit in ‘Killah Hill’ where the kid gets his leg cut to hide the dope – that shit really happened, but I’m trying to make it more visual. Liquid Swords is a concept of being lyrically sharp, flowing like liquid metal – mercury, y’know? It comes from this flick, Legend of the Liquid Sword, where people would get their head cut off but it would still be on their shoulders. No one else would notice, because the sword was so sharp. Wu-Tang is a sword style, and this here is the sharpest. I’d rather slip on the pavement than slip on my tongue.”

So within one year (1994-95) the Clan members had released the debuts by Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, Raekwon and now GZA. This is incredible and still blows my mind just thinking about it.

The whole album is f**kin awesome, but there are four stand out tracks for me:

Duel of the Mic”, the second track has everything I love about the Wu-Tang crew, a monotone beat and a repetitive sampling. Ol Dirty Bastard (R.I.P), Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck and GZA all makes impressive contributions on the mic on this one.

”This is not a eighty-five affair, made clear
When the gods get on to perform storms blew up
Wu’s up, causin the crowd to self-destruct
Killer bees are stingin somethin while I reveal”

Shadowboxin” with my favourite (together with Ghostface) Wu-Tang rapper, Method Man is beyond great here, delivering his lines over the repetitive female voice sample.

”Allow me to demonstrate
That’s right, you corny-ass
The skill of Shaolin, rap motherfuckers
The special technique, better go back and check
Of shadowboxing, your fucking stacks
Shadowboxing, cause your naps ain’t nappy enough
And your beats ain’t rugged enough, bitch”

Killah Hills 10304” is a true story, which makes the track elevate to even greater heights for me.

”Grew up in Iran, the nigga runs a neighborhood newsstand
A wild Middle Eastern, bomb specialist
Initiated, at eleven to be a terrorist
He set bombs in bottles of champagne
And when niggas popped the cork, niggas lost half they brains
Like this ex-worker, tried to smuggle a half a key
In his left leg, even underwent surgery
They say his pirate limp gave him away
As the feds rushed him, comin’ through U.S. Customs”

Cold War” an amazing track, pure and raw project poetry with a haunting sample underneath. Just read the lyrics:

”Babies cryin’ brothers dyin’ and brothers getting knocked
Shit is deep on the block and you got me locked down
In this cold, cold worldIt was the night before New Year’s, and all through the fuckin’ projects
Not a handgun was silent, not even a Tec
Outside as I’m stuck, by enemies who put fear
And blasted on the spot before the pigs were dere
You know hoods robbers snipers new in sight, fuck blue and white
They escape before them flash the fuckin’ lights
Gunshots, shatter first floor window panes
Shells hit the ground and blood stained the dice game
Whether broke callisthetic, any style you set it
Beat niggas toothless, physically cut up like gooses
But with iron on the sides thugs took no excuses
Therefore, your fifty-two handblocks was useless
Links was snatched off necks, scars on throats
Jackets took, after bullet rips through coats
Against those who felt the cold from the steel made em fold
And squeal, once the metal hit the temple of his grill
Destruction worker, who was caught for his bomber
No time to swing the hammer that was hangin’ from his Farmer’s
And it’s bugged how some niggas catch slugs
And pockets dug from everything except check stubs
And it does, sound ill like wars in Brownsville
Or fatal robberies in Red Hook where feds look
For fugitives to shoot cops, niggas layin’ on roof tops
For his CREAM he stashed in a shoebox
But he was hot, and the strip was filled with young killers
You don’t suspect, so cops creep like caterpillars
And born thieves stay hooded with extra bullets
Those who try to flee they hit the vertebrae, increase the murder rate
Similar to hit men who pull out Tecs and then
Drop those who crack like tacos from Mexican
Rapid, like recipients cashin’ checks again
Back to the motherfuckin’ spot on LexingtonBabies cryin’ brothers dyin’ and brothers getting knocked
Shit is deep on the block and you got me locked down
In this cold, cold worldWe be runnin’ from the cops, bustin’ off shots
Shit is deep on the block and you got me locked down
In this cold, cold worldYo, no time to freeze, undercovers ease up in Grand Prixs
And seize packages and pocket the currency
Clicks control strips full clips are sprayed
Yellow tape barricades sidewalks where bodies lay
Madness strikes at twelve o’clock midnight
Stick up kids on the ground broke the staircase light
And I stays harassed, scramblin’ for petty cash
Jakes on my ass young bucks is learnin’ fast
357’s and 44’s
Bought inside corner stores, their fire sparks the wars
Hospital floors surrounded by the law
Homicide questioning while the Jakes guard the door
My hood stay tense, loyalty puts strength in my team
‘Cause niggas main concern is CREAM
Some niggas in the jet black Gallant
Shot up the Chinese restaurant, for this kid named Lamont
I thought he was dead but instead he missed a kid
And hit a twelve year old girl in the head and then fled
Tactical narcotic, task force, back off fast
‘Cause the crime boss is passin’ off cash
Extortions, for portions of streets, causes beef
Havin’ followers of Indians trying to play Chief
You witness the saga, casualties and drama
Life is a script, I’m not a actor but the author
Of a modern day opera, where the main character
Is presidential paper, the dominant, factor
Babies cryin’ brothers dyin’ and brothers getting knocked
Shit is deep on the block and you got me locked down
In this cold, cold world”

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