Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords

Genius/GZA - Liquid SwordsGZA, AKA Genius, is one of the Wu-Tang’s most underrated MC’s. Probably the most original out of all of them, G has a taunting, aggressive no-shit style while at the same time spitting some metaphorical/symbolic wisdom. Put all this together and you’ll be seriously reminded of a martial arts master or two from old Kung-Fu movies. Liquid Swords, his debut, is arguably tied for best Wu solo album along with Raekwon’s OB4CL. LS is as deep, multilayered and introspective as Cuban Linx is dark and raw, and with RZA still strong on the beats at that point the CD is definitely worth a few hunned(thousand) listens.


1) Liquid Swords 

Intros the album with a clip from an old movie, a kid talking about his notorious assassin father (probably GZA, killing MC’s). When the beat comes in it’s a string beat, and a bit bouncy. GZA spits on wack MCs, killin wack MCs, and bein a super-rapper with both killa rhymes and messages. (Great)

2) Duel Of the Iron Mic ft. Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck

The beat is low and unobtrusive, but still good–it plays at the back of your head, right below notice, setting the tone. GZA, Masta and Deck all go heavy on the metaphorical style, and all killin it. (Great)

3) Living In the World Today

This beat here is nice, a lighter flutey loop that turns into a classic-RZA bumpin, dyslexic-loop type shit. GZA speaks on some seriously abstract shit, with lyrics nice as *****. (Excellent)

4) Gold

The beat is quicker here, a high-whine with horns, hard to explain. GZA spits a great story here over 2 verses. (Excellent)

5) Cold World ft. Inspectah Deck 

A slow, surrealistic loop sets the tone here, the hook being a singer crooning an angsty-sounding couple of lines. Genius and Deck both spit some good shit about livin in the hood. (Great)

6) Labels 

GZA comes with the creativity here, over RZA’s stop-and-go piano, he rhymes while mentioning the various labels that were big in that time. Even though it’s more of a long verse he does a really good job. (Great)

7) 4th Chamber ft. Ghost Face Killa, Killah Priest, RZA 

RZA lays a high, discordant string loop over a hard snare, which is periodically interrupted by a heavy guitar riff. Ghost kills it, Priest kills it; RZA comes with some ill concepts, though his scheme is slightly off, then GZA comes and murders it. (Excellent)

8) Shadowboxin ft. Method Man 

The beat here is a nice change, a rolling continuous organ. Meth comes on and spit’s a sicc verse with a really smooth flow. GZA kills it, then Meth comes on and flows smooth some more. (Excellent)

9) Hell’s Wind Staff/Killah Hills 10304

Intros with RZA meeting a “grey ghost” to make a deal, and it turns out ‘ghost’ is undercover and 5-0 are headin towards the meeting spot at that moment based on information from a “Don Rodriguez.” Interesting. The song picks up, a story about major drug dealin over an accordion-sounding beat. (Great)

10) Investigative Reports ft. Raekwon, Ghost Face Killer 

The beat: a bumpin drum/bass track, with a continuous whiney instrument over it; good shit. Rae jumps on first with a str8 verse about crooked cops, GZA’s second with a nice verse on the same, and Ghost finishes up with siccness. (Great)

11) Swordsman 

The beat: darker, more chaotic. GZA raps some really nice verses describing going from superstitious and religious to more cynical and logical. (Great)

12) I Gotcha Back

The beat is a bit gaudy, mostly a blaring horn over a not-so-strong drum track. GZA’s lyrics are good, a semi-autobiographic account of his life. (Good)

13) Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (BIBLE)

The beat here is more playful, with a shuffling snare, a whistle and kids laughing in the background. Tha Genius comes with some seriously illa lyrics about losing his faith in religion and his views on it. (Excellent)


My Rating: 4.5/5

GZA’s excellent debut shows how original and creative he can really be, and he basically goes crazy with the lyrics. Pretty much every original Wu member is featured here and there, except for ODB who was in jail at that point. LS also has some of RZA’s best work on it, this was basically put out in the period where Wu was still unquestionably on top; though not as good as 36 Chambers–one or maybe two joints may sound worn after a while–the vast majority of the album is pure.

My Recommendation: Buy, period.