The Wu-Tang Clan shifted the entire recording industry on the back of RZA‘s undeniable will to win, and the fact the sprawling collective each had their own personal strengths. Among the Clan, the GZA has stood out for his lyrical excellence as evidenced on his second studio album Liquid Swords, which still captures the imagination 25 years later.
The lore of the album has been recorded in interviews many times over, with the artist born Gary Grice using realizing that the Wu-Tang Clan’s star was rising swiftly on the heels of their classic group debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Just as Raekwon and RZA were putting the finishing touches on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, GZA then locked in with The Abbot and they completed the record during the high period.
In an earlier iteration, GZA was already ahead of his compatriots as an artist, having released an album in 1991 under his former rap name, The Genius.
Words from the Genius, much like RZA, then known as Prince Rakeem and his EP Ooh I Love You Rakeem, these early studio releases were not the grimy affairs of their later works within the Clan. With the stage set of them, however, at 36 Chambers, the signature grit of RZA’s production coupled with GZA’s gruff but focused vocals would provide Hip-Hop fans with an immediate magical piece of work.
From the opening title track, to the Ghostface Killah & RZA’s nearly stealing the scene on “4th Chamber,” and Method Man shining on “Shadowboxin,” there was enough of the Clan’s presence across the album to remind listeners they were deep in the trenches of Shaolin. However, the anchoring medium of RZA’s hard-as-nails beats and GZA’s seasoned, world-weary vocal tone created a vibe that they were never able to fully replicate.
In GZA’s estimation, he and his brethren acknowledge the classic nature of the record, but he also didn’t find it as his greatest lyrical body of work. For that, we carefully suggest a listen to his collaborative album with DJ Muggs in Grandmasters, which recently turned 15 this year as well.
We sadly missed out on a 25th-anniversary performance of Liquid Swords but fans can circle back and check out the event, courtesy of LPR.TV by clicking here. Be aware that there is a ticket price for the performance.
For now, we would recommend that one seek to enhance their audio environment with Liquid Swords with the links provided below.