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Liquid Swords

by GZA

Released November 7, 1995 via Geffen Records

Reviewed November 11, 2020

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Shadowboxin’ (53%), 4th Chamber (44%), Liquid Swords (32%)

As infamously detailed by Method Man on the group cut "Can It Be All So Simple," if the Wu-Tang Clan were to form like Voltron, GZA would be the head. It was those elite and composed properties that garnered him a distinguished position amongst his peers and shined through to make Liquid Swords perhaps the lead dog of the group’s solo catalog. Using the idea of liquid metal as a jumping off point, GZA made an earnest effort to come as correct as possible on this bonafide classic. The result is a balance of flow and stopping power that is simply unmatched. Every gruffly barked word has the density to pull you in and pack a punch, but never comes at the expense of fluidity. It's like Ali in the ring, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. In this case, a Killa Bee. Pair these all-time great technical characteristics with a producer as visionary as the RZA and you have a masterpiece on your hands. Aging gracefully, this one adds strength to the credence that Wu-Tang is forever. – Enth (9.5/10)

The meeting of the minds that is Liquid Swords is arguably the most sophisticated work to come out of the Wu-Tang Clan's collective discography. GZA stakes his claim as the best lyricist of the group with intricate rhymes that cut deeper than most everything rap had heard prior. His delivery sharp and imagery vivid, The Genius effortlessly slices through RZA's smooth but haunting boom-bap instrumentals. Expanding upon the gritty and hard-hitting production that RZA is known for, heavy bass tones are complemented by illustrious strings that paint an eerie and atmospheric backdrop. The resulting 50 minutes take the listener on a dark, cinematic journey that details inner-city strife with unparalleled sophistication. Liquid Swords provides a definitive answer to why they call GZA "The Genius" as he delivers an all-time classic. – Dominick (9.2/10)

The trials of surviving in the inner city are typically portrayed by popular media and news in a meek and dilapidated manner, fastening individuals in that environment to a future as restricted as their present. Liquid Swords does a fantastic job at cinematizing the gritty conditions of 80’s and 90’s Staten Island, as well as the success unearthed beneath the concrete, without polishing it into a fictional atmosphere. As RZA displays his unmistakably elite chops and percussion, GZA navigates through these sounds as effortlessly as a snake through weeds, the duo cleverly grips the listener and guides them through the world they’ve always known. The streets are dark and the antagonists are chilling, but the money is available in whatever way you end up hustling, and the future isn’t as determined as the popular media might have you might think. Liquid Swords is by no means a coming of age story or inspiring in the literal definition of the word, but the artistic prowess cultivated from a setting so seemingly hopeless is admirable and one of the many reasons this album is of legendary status. – Pax (9/10)

Liquid Swords is a meeting of lyrical genius and production mastery. As with anything from around this time in the Wu world, nothing but excellence is to be expected. A performance of astounding assurance from GZA the Genius, a true wordsmith, makes this one of the greatest outings to bless a mic. Having the RZA's signature sound as a backdrop is always going to enhance any confident MC tenfold, and GZA is no exception. The intro to Liquid Swords is nothing short of chilling and sets the tone for a cold-hearted and stone-cold calculated endeavour; he's the 'Genius' for a reason. Liquid Swords is a record that stands on its own in quality, sound, and feel. The icing on the cake is the artwork. Absolutely nothing stands close to it. Liquid Swords is the sharpest hip-hop record of the 90's, and even has a case for sharpest of all-time. – Peter (9/10)

Jared: 10/10 | Daniel: 9.5/10 | DeVán: 9.5/10 | Enth: 9.5/10 | Hadley: 9.5/10

Peter: 9.5/10 | Cam: 9.3/10 | Dominick: 9.2/10 | Pax: 9/10


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