13 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1993, the arrival of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) shook the world of hiphop like an earthquake. A series of aftershocks — a spate of excellent releases by individual members of the Staten Island-based collective — followed. One of the best is GZA’s 1995 stunner, Liquid Swords. In contrast to, say, ‘Ol Dirty Bastard’s cracked humor or Ghostface Killah’s agitated outpourings, GZA crafts cool, fierce raps that burn like hot coals. On Liquid Swords, he’s joined by a host of other Wu Tang associates on the mic, but there is no doubt he is the star of this show. (Masterful Wu-Tang producer RZA provides the album’s ominous beats.) The hard-hitting title track immediately makes it clear that the GZA means business and on “Living in the World Today,” he describes his technique: “I’m just swingin’ swords, strictly based on keyboards/Unbalanced, like elephants and ants on see-saws.” Much of the album provides fractured images of street life and attitudes, but “Labels,” a sort of word-game that incorporates a dizzying number of record company names into its flow, serves as a respite from the intense vibe. “Cold World” “I Gotcha Back,” and “Shadowboxin’” stand out, but the whole album is amazing.

EDITORS’ NOTES

In 1993, the arrival of Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) shook the world of hiphop like an earthquake. A series of aftershocks — a spate of excellent releases by individual members of the Staten Island-based collective — followed. One of the best is GZA’s 1995 stunner, Liquid Swords. In contrast to, say, ‘Ol Dirty Bastard’s cracked humor or Ghostface Killah’s agitated outpourings, GZA crafts cool, fierce raps that burn like hot coals. On Liquid Swords, he’s joined by a host of other Wu Tang associates on the mic, but there is no doubt he is the star of this show. (Masterful Wu-Tang producer RZA provides the album’s ominous beats.) The hard-hitting title track immediately makes it clear that the GZA means business and on “Living in the World Today,” he describes his technique: “I’m just swingin’ swords, strictly based on keyboards/Unbalanced, like elephants and ants on see-saws.” Much of the album provides fractured images of street life and attitudes, but “Labels,” a sort of word-game that incorporates a dizzying number of record company names into its flow, serves as a respite from the intense vibe. “Cold World” “I Gotcha Back,” and “Shadowboxin’” stand out, but the whole album is amazing.

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