GZA
Pro Tools


3.5
great

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
September 12th, 2008 | 36 replies | 14,052 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: No longer only a digital recording suite, ProTools now doubles as a GZA album.

The critically acclaimed Liquid Swords was, and still is, the crown jewel of the Genius discography. Effectively blending the GZA’s lyrical mastery with the progressive, keyboard-laden production of the RZA, this seminal release had a sizeable role in the mid-90s hip-hop renaissance. An obvious, yet unfair benchmark was ultimately set, for which the critical universe could compare all future Wu-Works. Three albums and over a decade later, Gary Grice has graced the public with Pro Tools. Age has not subdued the Genius and his art, but it has indeed affected his title-formulation skills. With his Pro-Tools manual in hand and supposedly curious Babygrande reps at the fore, the 42-year-old flaunted the laziness his age and profession would suggest.

An unfortunate side effect of being haphazardly named after a software package is the preconception that Pro Tools beats are hastily made. An unfortunate truth about this statement is that the production is a glaring weak point of the album. While the always fresh RZA and Black Milk have a hand in some of the composition duties, it can’t help but be noted that a vast majority of the album just sounds tired. One can argue that this is quite customary; the focus here is obviously the GZA, and the beats definitely achieve this goal. On the other hand, whenever an artist has nearly three generations of fans, it almost comes off as a phoned-in performance when the music pervades an atmosphere of laziness, repetition, and normalcy. Perhaps this is too harsh. The far-and-few-between bright spots are indeed bright; RZA’s epic, soundtrack-influenced tracks are tight, Black Milk brings as much ingenuity as he’s able to the mix, and Arabian Knight puts on an impressive performance.

The twelve-year span after which Liquid Swords was released has merely been twelve years for GZA to further refine his trademark style. That is, there is no fire-spitting to be had here. Instead, the listener is continuously barraged with thoughtful 5% musings, alliteration galore, and surprisingly intellectual storytelling. While presumably uncaring and too laid back at first listen (especially after some of the boring beats kick in), the Genius quickly hypnotizes with his incredible consistency. As is customary, many of his verses emphasize sage-like perspectives of life through his own definition of Islam (obviously, the version where you can smoke grips of green). Coupled with criticisms on pop-culture and even dissing G-Unit (which one could include in the category of “pop-culture”), this GZA-science is always refreshing and reflective.

The Genius will always be hip-hop royalty, and Pro Tools proves that he isn’t an emeritus quite yet. This master of the mic more than makes up for his poor beat selections, but doesn’t really touch the level of his early works. Hopefully next time around, the RZA will realize that the novelty of Bobby Digital has worn off, give up, and produce most of his cousin’s next album.

The Best In Order:
Life is a Movie (prod by the RZA)
Cinema (prod by Arabian Knight)
7 Pounds (prod by Black Milk)



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user ratings (130)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
marksellsuswallets
September 12th 2008



4848 Comments


As soon as I saw the album title...that summary popped into my head...then I clicked on it and lol'd...
Good review d00d

bastard
September 12th 2008



3435 Comments


I wanted the review this, but meh, too lazy,

nice job.

JAV
September 12th 2008



1921 Comments


I was waiting for someone to review this.
Pretty good review, only thing is you don't really say why the beats are boring.
Just curious as to why you say that.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 12th 2008



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

They're incredibly repetitive and simple. Liquid Swords made a point to emphasize this simple atmosphere, but RZA did so much with so little on that album. Here, the hodgepodge of producers just sounds like a cop-out.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2008



6085 Comments


retractedThis Message Edited On 11.11.08

bastard
September 12th 2008



3435 Comments


your avatar gives me seizures.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2008



6085 Comments


nick let's be sensible about this please

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 12th 2008



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

what

Meatplow
September 12th 2008



5524 Comments


there is only one conclusion that can be made from this

elim is a creepy rapist

badtaste
September 12th 2008



824 Comments


Wow, excellent review. Haven't heard the record, but your thoughts on it were well communicated.

irishmanshibby
September 13th 2008



355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i was waitin for this review too...this was better than i expected

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 13th 2008



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, the album really is great... I just didn't think so at first, since I'm more into the production side of hip-hop than vocals. It took me nearly the entire month since this has been released to formulate my final opinion.

brandtweathers
September 23rd 2008



2007 Comments



I enjoy this immensely. I agree that the beats are "boring," I guess, but I think they do what they're supposed to: back up GZA and get the **** out of the way.

completely agree. i think this review doesn't give nearly enough love

kingsoby1
Emeritus
September 24th 2008



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The Genius will always be hip-hop royalty, and Pro Tools proves that he isn’t an emeritus quite yet. This master of the mic more than makes up for his poor beat selections, but doesn’t really touch the level of his early works. Hopefully next time around, the RZA will realize that the novelty of Bobby Digital has worn off, give up, and produce most of his cousin’s next album.

I don't know, I think I give it plenty of credit for having lame beats.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
November 28th 2008



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

from a 4 to a 2.5, a bit drastic eh planewreck? did gza sleep w/ ur girl?

FistfulOfSteel
June 7th 2009



894 Comments


ive already got liquid swords, should i check this or beneath the surface out first?

kingsoby1
Emeritus
June 7th 2009



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

you should check out the GZA vs DJ Muggs joint

FistfulOfSteel
June 8th 2009



894 Comments


oh yeah ive got that to listen to still

Hollow
July 19th 2009



263 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another fine recording.Can't give it under 4.

TMobotron
Contributing Reviewer
February 12th 2010



7026 Comments


I heard RZA and GZA are planning on doing one more together before they go out. That shit could be so epic. But I also am wondering if that's the right move for GZA to go out on. RZA really couldn't pick a better MC to rap over his beats, but from what was said by Ghostface and Raekwon about RZA, maybe RZA just doesn't know how to mesh as well with members of the clan as he used to. Either way, if GZA has solid production behind him for a full album, shit will be cash.



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