Review Summary: Hip Hop has just been checkmated. Amazing beats and amazing lyrics equate to an amazing album.GZA
has always been the guy who flowed intelligent over RZA's beautifully jarring beats on the now legendary album Liquid Swords. DJ Muggs
has always been the guy in Cypress Hill who made the beats to their solid genre busting debut. Individually, these two had been shadowed by their own greatness; nothing they produced could ever reach that plateau they had made for themselves. Even if they did, critics could just state that it is "nothing compared to..." This occured with GZA's Legend of the Liquid Swords and with DJ Muggs endeavors after his initial success with Cypress Hill. Then this album arrived.
The theme of this album is chess. Chess is strategical. Throughout the album, as it flows from a prophetic beginning intro, which advises one to return to the "classical heritage," to an electronic organ dancing on top of a funky bass riff as violins sing in the background, it becomes apparent that great Hip Hop itself is a strategical game.
The beat must be well planned, well choreographed to allow the MC to flow with the beat, not against it. In "Unstoppable Threats" DJ Muggs brings the bass in with a vengence, mixing up this old school instrument with Gothic pianos that Dracula would have loved to have playing in his castle. Those two compliment each other; they create the walls in a auditory room in which you can cripwalk. The way in which the bass and treble mix in the beat department make them hypnotic, dangerous, and rewindable. Nearly every beat on the album makes you wonder how it entranced you.
GZA flows on these with what made his nickname "The Genius." "Exploitation Of Mistakes" discusses the story of a foiled murder. "Queen's Gambit" explores how GZA came to end up in a sexual scenario with multiple women. "All In Together Now" is a final goodbye to an old friend. With every song, he states something, and makes illicit the story behind his statement. His ability to do this while controlling the beat and the words is what drives the meaning of Grandmasters.
With much strategy, GZA penned the stories that make the imagination flow. With much strategy, DJ Muggs provides the Gothic gangsta sound that allows one to plan and imagine. With much strategy, DJ Muggs and GZA show why they are Grandmasters.