Review Summary: "I'm on a mission, niggaz say is impossible but when I swing my swords they all choppable"
GZA slices the competition to bits with this legendary album
Liquid Swords to this day remains one of the crowning achievements in the history of hip-hop. It is almost universally respected by all critics and rap heads. Because so much has already said about this album, this reviewer feels the need only to gliss the surface of this amazing album to give new listeners an overview.
Liquid Swords is acknowledged as one of the 6 classic albums of the first wave of Wu-Tang affiliated albums. To be honest, it might be the best one of the bunch. GZA was already one of the more respected and known members of the clan, and he was the only member besides for Method Man to get a solo track on the Wu's seminal debut. GZA's smooth, slower flow made him stand out in contrast of other members' deliveries, especially the fast aggressive flows of Raekwon and Ghostface. Unlike Method Man however, GZA operates best on a solo spotlight, and never has he been better than on this album.
RZA's production might be one of the main reasons this album is so well regarded today. Moving further away from the lo-fi sound characterized by the Clan's debut, and Ol' Dirty Bastard's first solo effort, RZA employs some of best kung fu sample to date, and experiments with different sounds, such as the muffled accordion layered beneath the title track. 4th Chamber makes use of a wild keyboard riff and atmospheric sounds to propel the track, while Cold World makes use of minor key strings and soulful vocals. These beats are among the best you'll find in the RZA catalogue.
Now on to the GZA's lyrical performance. GZA is a lyrical genius (no pun intended) who drops some of the most razor sharp lines and memorable lines I've ever heard. The title track is filled with quotables, such as "Lyrics are weak like clock radio speakers" and that very quote that grazes the top of this review. Labels is an interesting exercise in lyricism, as GZA contructs the song entirely out the names of different record labels. The Genius uses stark realism and gritty narrative on Cold World, one of the album's many highlights. There are some great guest appearances from other Wu members and affiliates. Shadowboxin' features a standout verse from Method Man, and Killah Priest shines on the album's closer B.I.B.L.E.
This is real, hard hitting hip-hop, with top class lyricism and production. If you haven't listened to it and claim you like hip-hop, get off your ass and buy it now. Wu-Tang forever baby.