GZA
Beneath the Surface


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hillary Clittounge USER (16 Reviews)
December 20th, 2012 | 32 replies | 4,660 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Let’s drink wine from the purest grape vine in rhyme.

4 of 8 thought this review was well written

Interview on track “Can it All Be So Simple” from Wu-Tang’s 36 Chambers :

Quote:
[Raekwon]: And the GZA, the G is just the Genius, he… He's the backbone of the whole ***
[RZA]: It's self explanatory, Genius
[Method Man]: He the head, let's put it that way
We form like Voltron, and GZA happen to be the head
This is the first time we get to see what the head of Voltron can do by itself, without being hindered or helped much by the other clan members. Before Beneath the Surface, GZA released his masterpiece, Liquid Swords, which is regarded by most to be one of the top ten hip hop albums of all time. Even though Liquid Swords gets virtually all of the critical and commercial acclaim, it isn't necessarily a collection of “The best of GZA” as many believe. If you dive deeper into GZA’s discography you will find better lyricism, a dramatically matured perspective and deeper subject matter. If Liquid Swords was GZA’s Dark Side of the Moon, Beneath the Surface is like GZA’s The Wall: whereas Liquid Swords was a more easily accessible album to casual fans, songs on Beneath the Surface provide more poetic lyricism and deeper subject matter than virtually every track on Liquid Swords.

What’s the key to liking this album? The simplest way to put it is if you liked “B.I.B.L.E” from Liquid Swords you will love this album (Killah Priest is featured 4 times), but if not there is still hope as long as you are not turned away by the simple and repetitive production that hovers around above-average for this entire album. Liquid Swords almost can't even be seen as a solo album: It featured every one of the other eight clan members at least once. So if you expect more of this type of Wu-Tang style you are going to be very disappointed. The only Wu-Tang member to be featured on a verse here is Masta Killa, the least talented member, who GZA taught to emcee himself. The features are the major problem here. The production is a far cry from the brilliant kung-fu sampling production of RZA, but lyrically it is much more focused, reasonable and coherent than previous Wu-Tang projects. You just need to be ready to appreciate a new style that’s very different from 36 chambers, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, or Liquid Swords, one that is less flashy and more substantive. This album is much more of GZA’s own work. It shows all at once what RZA meant to the sound of Liquid Swords, but also how much more meaningful GZA’s music can be when he’s not held in any boundaries.

Unlike all of Wu-Tang members first solo releases, which were all produced by RZA, the production on Beneath the Surface includes only one track produced by RZA (1112), one from Inspectah Deck (Beneath the Surface), and one from John the Baptist (Crash Your Crew). The rest of the beats are done by either Mathematics or Arabian Knight. As a result, this album is slow paced and has lackadaisical delivery throughout most of the album. This starts off a little boring (the first track, Amplified Sample) but it quickly picks up to an entertaining jazzy pace that fits GZA’s complex lyrics and punch lines perfectly. GZA's lyrics in this album are the poetic gold that more than makes up for the sound. They make this album on par with Liquid Swords as a whole by constantly painting pictures with lines like [quote]On a man-made lake, there's a sheet of thin ice, where unskilled skaters cut figure eights twice.[quote] to tell stories that end with real moral lessons being learned, rather than a kung fu sample of someone being decapitated. The beats help compliment this new style by being much more spacey than anything Wu-Tang has experimented with. They give the songs a deep-introspective feel, sounding more like well crafted music whereas RZA’s production sounds more like cool samples he took from a movie and made into a catchy rhythm.

If this is your first time listening to this album and you are having trouble adapting to the new sound, try out songs like “Crash Your Crew” and “Hip Hop Fury”. But eventually you should try to get used to the new sound and you may start to consider songs like “Beneath the Surface” and “Mic Trippin” to be of the most impressive works in Wu-Tang history for pushing the boundaries of hip hop with visual poetry while still being great sounding music. Give this album another full listen if you wrote it off in the past, and don’t be ashamed that you were wrong. Remember: To check fault in oneself is pure loveliness, you break the mirror that remind you of your ugliness.



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user ratings (135)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Gwyn.
December 20th 2012



14905 Comments


Are you that guy who used to be snoopdogg69 or whatever and garyjohnson?

I need to know to see if I neg you or not

Digging: Grief - Come to Grief

Gwyn.
December 20th 2012



14905 Comments


Oh.

Neg then.

Gwyn.
December 20th 2012



14905 Comments


not now though, i'm going to sleep



bloc
December 20th 2012



34679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very underrated album.

And yeah, Golden Fists was so bad. Some nice scenery though.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Gwyn.
December 20th 2012



14905 Comments


Ah, thanks for reminding me.

Neg.

Inveigh
December 20th 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea this is an underrated album

not better than Liquid Swords though, not by a long shot

demigod!
December 20th 2012



43891 Comments


wanna check this

is rza still on beats for this one?

Digging: Black Flag - My War

demigod!
December 20th 2012



43891 Comments


well im not a huge Wall fan so
ill check this out some day but it's not high on my list.

Inveigh
December 20th 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well it is his definitive release, idk why it would be surprising that his other work is less known, considering that LS was the only critical or commercial success he ever released

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2012



49801 Comments


This got pretty great reception at the time, not as much as Liquid Swords but still
It went gold as well, which would be a bigger deal today I suppose

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Inveigh
December 20th 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

some of the lyrics on here, and more so on GZA's later stuff, are "conscious" to the point of becoming cheesy

but then again it would make sense as to why you like them better then, since you fap to Immortal Technique

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
December 20th 2012



9033 Comments


Which one is the one where he's the car?

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Or you're just an idiot

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah how so?

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have a masters degree what's your point

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

MBA in information systems mgmt what u got

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No I used to love that kind of stuff when I was 19 you just never grew up

oltnabrick
December 21st 2012



30157 Comments


Disgusting

Digging: Miyuki - Fellow Citizen

Inveigh
December 21st 2012



24800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol I will give be you credit for effort and comedy but this is a music site so let's stick on topic OK?

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
December 21st 2012



19465 Comments


shut your whore mouth snoop

Digging: The Who - Tommy



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