#46 GZA – Labels
Taken from my super-sweet The Chess Box set of 1995’s Liquid Swords, this one is on the Instrumentals disc. It’s everything you’d expect. The instrumentals are great, a real window into the tracks, though I do find my ear still misses his voice over top. I’ve already raved about Liquid Swords somewhere in these pages. Let’s go!
Toasty Taranna #3: BMV #3: GZA/Genius – Beneath The Surface
I loved Liquid Swords. And yup, Mike was right, I own the chessboxin’ boxed set… SEE IT HERE (2015 KMA post). Anyway, the GZA is always worth a listen, so after a moment’s thought as we were headed to the register to pay, I grabbed this one too.
The GZA’s third solo album (1999) brings that Wu sound and keeps the beats and rhymes damn tight. This one rolls through the hood smoothly, and with style.
Guests on the record are a whole lot of names you might know, especially Wu-Tang Clan members Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP) and Method Man, and affiliates like Killah Priest, Masta Killa, Hell Razah, Timbo King, Dreddy Kruger, Njeri Earth, Angela Yee, Prodigal Sunn, and La The Darkman. Other guests include Santigold, Res, Joan Davis, and Trigga.
Some say this isn’t as good as Liquid Swords (why compare, it’s a new project, four years later), that no RZA means it’s not as good (sigh), that it had ambitions too high for its abilities to achieve them (haha whut). I didn’t hear anything here to make me think this was anything other than a solid GZA session, obviously the product of great minds working together to create special things.
Hit It Or Quit It? Hit.
I had occasion to spend all day in the Man Cave on Sunday, tidying up and organizing. It was glorious. I’m sure you agree just how awesome it is to be able to be surrounded with music… just organizing… And of course, I rocked several albums over the course of those sweet, sweet hours… Let’s have a look…
Sunday Man Cave Series, Part 1
I’d have a hard time picking a favourite Wu-Tang member (I mean, why choose?), but at gunpoint I’d always say GZA.
DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill, Soul Assassins, many others)’s beats are pitch-perfect, and razor-sharp. His work here is gorgeous. And GZA’s lyrics are truly superb, and his flow bang-on. I could listen to him rap all day. Wu members and associates are here too.
This chess-themed beauty is the real deal.
PS From Wiki:
“”Chess is the ultimate board game. Monopoly is not in its league and Checkers doesn’t compare at all. It’s civilized war. It’s a mathematical thing, its science, and it’s strategy. That’s life all the time. Just planning your day, being ten steps ahead and seeing the moves ahead. That’s what chess is about. I’m not the greatest player. I’m not a master or a grandmaster. I lose a lot, but I learn. I’ve been defeated plenty times. I play online and I might have 900 wins and 850 losses but I play all the time. The game is fascinating and I am captivated by that. The album I just dropped is called Grandmasters. That’s the highest level you reach when playing chess and it’s also the highest level of emceeing, producing and deejaying. Most of the titles are chess slang ‘Queen’s Gambit,’ ‘Destruction of a Guard,’ ‘Unprotected Pieces,’ and ‘Illusionary Protection.’ I incorporate chess into certain rhymes. I use chess all time. Chess is a big part of what I do.” – GZA”
Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords: The Chess Box Edition
Recently, there was some talk about the mighty Wu-Tang Clan over on stephen1001’s excellent site, so I thought I’d quickly break my holiday from blogging (yet again) while it was still timely, and share a really cool (related) trinket that I have here.
The solo albums from the members of the Clan have been numerous and varied, but one of the best is Liquid Swords (1995). It’s a great listen, top to bottom.
This 2CD copy has several things going for it beyond the album proper, including: a disc of full-length instrumentals, extended artwork, liner notes from the GZA, and a complete miniature chess set in the bottom of the boxed set! The chess set is a cool touch, and the pieces even have felt on the bottoms. It is fairly tight in there, though – hard to play a game with it if you have big hands. Still, I think they really did this whole set up with thought and care, really had the fans/collectors in mind.
Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’, indeed!
* This picture is taken from Amazon’s site, as it’s far better than I could capture of my copy using my phone’s camera.