GZA
Liquid Swords


5.0
classic

Review

by ◘_◘ ◘_◘ ◘_◘ ◘_◘ USER (5 Reviews)
May 5th, 2007 | 1985 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best in East Coast hip-hop since 1995.

"I have decided to escape, to defy the shogun. Today I will begin walking the road to hell. But you will choose your own path. So, soon you may be seeing heaven. Choose the sword, and you will join me. Choose the ball and you join your mother, in death. You don’t understand my words, but you must choose. So… come boy, choose life or death."

With the release of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in 1993, the Wu-Tang Clan garnered popular and critical acclaim. Sporting gritty and minimalistic production, an obsession with samurai and karate films, and a healthy dose of street humor, the album proved to be a milestone of hip-hop and a precursor to a whole series of Clan-related albums that would follow its success. Though The Gravediggaz's 6 Feet Down and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx were among the first, GZA's Liquid Swords is often considered superior to these releases, with its comic book cover art depicting members of Wu-Tang engaging in battle on a chess board.

Not unlike the Clan's previous effort, almost all of Liquid Swords was produced by RZA, whose dark, foggy beats perfectly compliment the lyrical content and ingenius sampling work (This time using even better clips, most noticeably a long dialogue from Shogun Assassin). Smooth soul legends such as Al Green and Stevie Wonder and cheesy '70s rock such as Three Dog Night are sampled unobtrusively, allowing melody to flow through the boom-bap.

"Liquid Swords" kicks the album off slowly with the previously mentioned samurai film excerpt, which fades into the song itself. Staccato keyboard and simple, dense beats allow GZA to do what he does best, spitting some of his sharpest lyrics with lines such as "Cause niggas styles are old like Mark 5 sneakers. Lyrics are weak, like clock radio speakers". This helps bring one to understanding GZA's approach to lyrics, who tends to favor wordplay and thought-provoking schemes over verbosity and technicality, as the 'liquid swords' simile represents his words cutting through the air like liquid swords.

Musically, one of the most accomplished songs present on Liquid Swords is "Gold", bearing a massive, thumping beat, dramatic strings, choirs, horns, and an eerie keyboard line. Lyrically, both "Labels" and "4th Chamber" are outstanding. The former cleverly uses the names of various record labels as GZA delivers more wack emcee disses, while the latter implements another martial art film sample what can easily be considered the most sinister beat here. Four members of the Clan deliver a verse right after another: Ghostface Killah, Killah Priest, RZA and GZA, providing insight into each emcee's style and the general Wu philosophy. RZA's verse particularly stands out, as he provides a flurry of words and apocalyptic ninja conspiracy themes; "Six million devils just died from the Bubonic Flu, or the Ebola Virus, under the reign of King Cyrus, you can see the weakness of a man right through his iris."

After such extraordinary heights, GZA surprisingly does not taper off with poor or second-rate material. Despite seeming more toned down and low-key compared to the rest of Liquid Swords, tracks such as "Investigative Reports" are equal in strength and subtlety. "B.I.B.L.E", an acronym for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth", marks a significant change in tone; a nostalgic, sentimental feeling not present elsewhere. Here Killah Priest discusses hard times as a child, while seemingly criticizing and praising religion/spirituality at the same time ("Searched for the truth since my youth, and went to church since birth, but it wasn't worth the loot.")

Twelves years ago this album was released, and yet it seems to be much shorter than it. In many ways, Liquid Swords is as relevant as ever; underground hip-hop has taken but a few pages of Shaolin secrets that only GZA and other members of the Wu-Tang Clan possess. Somehow, if you can't find yourself enjoying this piece of martial rap, then you can at least find comfort in the fact that this is easily one of the greatest albums to be recorded, and you're missing out. As the Genius himself said, "Fake niggas get flipped."


user ratings (1319)
Chart.
4.6
superb
other reviews of this album
kvltwalter (4.5)
Rhyming, label bashing, drug dealing, and shadowboxin' are all in a day's work for The GZA, Wu-Tang'...

Timeizillmatic9 (5)
"I'm on a mission, niggaz say is impossible but when I swing my swords they all choppable" GZA sli...

Commortus (4.5)
I got mo mils than ho bitches got birth control pills...

supraman_2 (5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
May 5th 2007


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The only thing worse than Rhapsody not having an album I need is them having only, like, half of it. What a taunt.

I'll probably buy this soon, especially if its as good as everyone says. Great review too.This Message Edited On 05.05.07

711
May 5th 2007


1341 Comments


Great review, this is probably some of the best hip-hop Ive ever heard. The lyrics are excellent, and the samples at the beginnings of the tracks are perfect.

slep
May 5th 2007


1604 Comments


I bought this album on Tuesday. I've been listening to it almost non stop. great review as well.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2007


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah!

jrowa001
May 5th 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this doesnt sound like crap hip hop so i might give it a listen. good review

iarescientists
May 5th 2007


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Allow me a moment to be a complete and total tool and say "this review drops megaton bombs"

plane
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2007


6094 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review as always. i need this.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 5th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Everyone needs this. Sometimes I value this more than 36 Chambers. Sometimes.

Slaapkamers
May 5th 2007


596 Comments


It's way better than 36 Chambers.

Tyler
Emeritus
May 5th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Sometimes I agree.

Zebra
Moderator
May 5th 2007


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, this blows 36 Chambers out of the water. This is one of the few rap albums that I can listen to all the way through without going through any boring spells.

slep
May 5th 2007


1604 Comments


I have to say this is a little bit better than 36 Chambers.

pulseczar
May 5th 2007


2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. This is always bordering along a 5 for me, I like 36 Chambers more. I especially like how the album ends on a lyrically dense spiritual song and the rest of the album is so dark.

Slaapkamers
May 5th 2007


596 Comments


Before I started writing this I never really paid much attention to "B.I.B.L.E." but once you start picking it apart and listening it's really good.

Wyko
May 5th 2007


150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, incredible album. Like Pulseczar, this is bordering a 5 for me too. I prefer this over 36 chambers.

"They were supposed to kill my father..."

Edit: I uploaded this in the R&M daily upload, should be sent out in a few days for those that want it.This Message Edited On 05.05.07

plane
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2007


6094 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Edit: I uploaded this in the R&M daily upload, should be sent out in a few days for those that want it.

where's that?

Wyko
May 5th 2007


150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/forums/showthread.php?t=523216

If you´re not subscribed, contact me for the link (utwyko@gmail.com). Don´t know if I´m allowed to post it here .This Message Edited On 05.05.07

Two-Headed Boy
May 5th 2007


4527 Comments


Great review.

711
May 5th 2007


1341 Comments


THB, have you heard this?
Because if you havent you reeeeeally need to.

Two-Headed Boy
May 5th 2007


4527 Comments


I'm low on funds right now.



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