April 17, 2007

The Genius/Gza - Liquid Swords (November 7, 1995)


In predictable fashion, I present to you the fourth Wu-Tang solo album.

Although The Genius/Gza had already released a full-length album before the Wu movement caught on, h edidn't really hit his stride until he was part of a larger group. Liquid Swords is what many Wu-Tang fans consider his true debut, some because it marks his first release under the giant black and yellow Wu umbrella, others because Words From a Genius sucked balls.

Either way, I'm fucking tired, so I won't prolong this any more.

1. LIQUID SWORDS (FEAT RZA)
Kill Bill fans will recognize the movie sample (from Shogun Assassin) as the movie The Bride watches with her daughter toward the end of the second film. Mos Def fans will recognize this song from his third album Tru3 Magic, where he jacked Rza's beat and Gza's flow wholesale. Wu fans will want to beat the shit out of Mos Def fans for giving Mos Def praise for his song when "Liquid Swords" kicks ass just fine by itself, thanks.

2. DUEL OF THE IRON MIC (FEAT OL' DIRTY BASTARD, INSPECTAH DECK, & MASTA KILLA)
With the exception of the final song, The Rza produces every song presented here. Liquid Swords also has the distinction of being the first Wu-Tang solo album that featured every member of the Clan. I like how this write-up doesn't tell you anything about the song.

3. LIVING IN THE WORLD TODAY (FEAT THE RZA & METHOD MAN)
This is one of those songs that you only discover when you let the CD play straight through; trust me, you would have never heard of this one otherwise. Great track.

4. GOLD (FEAT METHOD MAN)
This is the only track I skip on a regular basis, and it's still pretty good, so what does that tell you?

5. COLD WORLD (FEAT INSPECTAH DECK & LIFE)
Kind of like Gza's "Can It be All So Simple", but a billion times better. I prefer the remix with D'Angelo on the chorus; that one can be found online easily.

6. LABELS (FEAT RZA)
Gza strings together tons of record label names into an understandable narrative. Later, he would write entire songs based around celebrity names, different breeds of dogs, and ultimately, all of Method Man's nicknames.

7. 4TH CHAMBER (FEAT GHOSTFACE KILLAH, KILLAH PRIEST, & THE RZA)
This. Song. Is. The. SHIT. Enough said.

8. SHADOWBOXIN' (FEAT METHOD MAN)
Honestly, what Wu fan doesn't like this song?

9. KILLAH HILLS 10304 (FEAT RZA & OL' DIRTY BASTARD)
No matter your feelings on this song, you have to admit that it's a lot more entertaining than the spinoff songs "Shaolin Place" and "The Heights".

10. INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS (FEAT RAEKWON, GHOSTFACE KILLAH, & U-GOD)
Honestly, this is one of the weakest Rae and Ghost combos that I've ever heard.

11. UNEXPLAINED (or SWORDSMAN, depending on who you ask)
Liquid Swords, along with a few Ghostface albums, has the annoying distinction of having liner notes that don't really match the tracklisting. Regardless of what the song is called (I refer to it as "Shadowboxin' 2: Electric Boogaloo"), it's good.

12. I GOTCHA BACK (FEAT THE RZA)
I think this was originally on the Fresh soundtrack, along with Rae's "Heaven or Hell" from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... It sounds dated, as if it would have been the best song on Words From a Genius.

13. B.I.B.L.E. (BASIC INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE LEAVING EARTH) (FEAT KILLAH PRIEST)
Gza decided to end the album with a Killah Priest solo shot. Although The Rza didn't touch this song, it still sounds great.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Liquid Swords is, in my opinion (and many others), THE best Wu-Tang solo offering, but Cuban Linx is right there next to it. There's just something about the time when Rza controlled every aspect of the Wu's collective career; he may have been a control freak, but the shit sounded good, so who could really complain?

BUY OR BURN? BUY THIS SHIT NOW. This is in my top five albums of all time, period. If you burn this shit, it damn well better be for promotional use only, and even then, you better write the Gza a nice apology note.

BEST TRACKS: "4th Chamber"; "Shadowboxin'"; "Liquid Swords"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Method Man - Tical
Ol' Dirty Bastard - Return To The 36 Chambers (The Dirty Version)
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
The Genius - Words From a Genius

23 comments:

  1. LOL @ Methods nick names and Shadowboxin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. True, this and Cuban Linx are definitely the best wu solo joints. But seriously, why all the hate for Words From a Genius? I know it's oldskool and some of it's a little corny, but it's surely not sucking any balls. But the beats for Pass the Bone, Life of a Drug Dealer, The Genius is Slammin', Words from the Genius and Feel the Pain are dope as fuck. And as usual, GZA has rhymes 4 days.

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  2. I don't consider it "hate" for Gza's first album; it's more like " I dislike it with every fiber of my being". Seriously, in my original review I wrote that his rhymes were great, but the beats were weak as shit (for the most part; I, too, liked "Pass The Bone", but that's more because of The Rza). We don't listen to hip hop just for the rhymes; the beats have to be there too, or else I'd be reviewing nothing but acapella albums. To be a successful album, it has to have the total package.
    Thanks for reading, and thanks for leaving comments! Hope to hear your feedback on another review.

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  3. i recently tried playing my disc and it was scratched, so i went straight down town and brought it again, NO hip hop fan should be without this album, This is the only album i had on Casette, Vinyl and CD.Its not just the best WU solo CD, its amoung the top 5 of all time.

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  4. I have fond memories of this album. My parents had a strict "No Parental Advisory Sticker" rule on music. So while all my friends had the other Wu albums, I didn't. When this one dropped, the "Sticker" was on the shrinkwrap. I carefully pulled it off, and bought it.

    By the time "Swordsman/Unexplained" came on, I was into the mood of the album. Then that song came on, and the beat hit first, then the chorus. When A Mother Fucker Steps Out His Place. That shit got turned down real quick. :)

    Anyway, this and Cuban Linx are probably the 1 and 1a of Wu Solo Release. They don't make hip-hop like this anymore.

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  5. I've got the original 1995 Genius/GZA Liquid swords Geffen rcords promotional sticker for $50.00. Holla if you're interested.

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  6. the most felonious vocalist in the wide world of showbusinessFebruary 08, 2008

    This review's been up for a while now but I never commented on it. I find the situation similar to refusing to speak to my child. This is one of the greatest albums in the history of music. From the opening Kung-Fu sample it makes me feel like I'm in a dungeon or at least underneath an elevated railroad track. The lyrics are full of imagery at least as vivid as the wonderful cover art. I feel like the album would have been stronger without the final two tracks but it is PERFECT through the first eleven songs.

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  7. Don like VitoApril 25, 2008

    i like this album

    its a wu-classic, i dont like the beat of the first track, i think its too simple and overrated, and i dont know why Mos Def reused it, there are better beats on this incredible album,

    the second verse of "Unexplained" is very good, where he talks about slaves,

    besides that "4th Chameber" is the highlight


    peaccce

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  8. This album is a fucking masterpiece. This is music at it's finest.

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  9. ive been going on this site for quite a while but ive never commented anything. i dont know why, but this is definetely my favorite solo wu tang album. I gotcha back is insane. and decks verse in duel of the iron mic was also incredible. No wonder hes always having tours for this album, its a fucking classic.

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  10. Probably the best Wu-Tang production ever. Ofc Only Built 4 Cuban Lynx and Tical are fantastic albums but this is most definitely the top one for me, the beats combined with GZA's lyricism is fantastic and he sounds so comfortable on every beat.

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  11. Am i the only one who thinks the beat for "investigative reports" sounds INCREDIBLY familiar? I have to know where else this beat was used haha. Oh and this album is amazing etc.

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  12. EPIC.
    2nd favorite album of ALL time. There is so much chemistry in this album, that I wish for a Liquid Swords 2. I mean a real Liquid Swords 2, not that Legend of the Liquid Sword deal. GZA/Genius... or should I say Genius/GZA is hands down the best lyricist ever. What I like best about this album is that I can listen to it multiple times, and catch something I didn't notice before. Whether it's deciphering a GZA lyric, or discovering an extra tick RZA used on a beat.

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  13. weak review. an album of this magnitude deserves something better. i'll classify this review under "utter shit". you should be disappointed in yourself. do yourself a favor and rewrite this one.

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  14. This album is amazing i went out and bought it because my friend told me too and i listened to it and iwas blown away definitley up there with straight outta compton and raising hell

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  15. I second that. This was a very, very weak review. How can you say in writing that you actually skip GOLD on a regular basis. GOLD is one of the best songs on the album if you can really give any of them that distinction b/c it is one of the best albums all time. Lastly, B.I.B.L.E. is really a bonus track. Why do we talk about it as if it is part of the masterpiece known as Liquid Swords? As far as I am concerned, Liquid Swords really only has 12 tracks.

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  16. why You skip the Gold track? Can You explain ?

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  17. its great album but i liked cuban linx way much more

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  18. Cus I've commented on some absolute gash thus far... this is THE hip hop album for me. It's all there, every ingredient for perfection. Cut B.I.B.L.E and you've got the best thing anyone Wu has put out so far.

    On a side note, anyone else get a good laugh out of GZA bad mouthing off the singer at the beginning of Killa Hills? "Fuckin' hells bastards"

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  19. I put this as not the only the best Wu-Tang solo release, but as the best Wu-release. This one, the criminally underrated Ironman and then 36 Chambers. Dayum, 93-97 were some good times.

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  20. Hands down the best Wu solo EVER. However good B.I.B.L.E. was, it most definitely did NOT belong on this album. I also agree that Liquid Swords has 12 tracks as far as I'm concerned.

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  21. WOOOOOO PLATINUM IN SALES AFTER 20 YEARS BABY

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