How Classic Is Genius/GZA's Liquid Swords? | 1995 Reviews

Liquid Swords 1995.jpg

CLASSIC RATING: 5 OUT OF 6

Liquid Swords (Nov 7, 1995)

Liquid Swords was released in late 1995 while the Wu-Tang ensemble was on major roll having released "36 Chambers", Method Man's "Tical", Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Return To The 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version", and Raekwon's "Only Built For Cuban Linx" in only a span of 24 months. RZA even managed to squeeze in time to form a new group called the Gravediggaz and release an album with them in '94 titled '6 Feet Deep' where he contributed vocals and even produced 3 tracks.

So RZA was a workaholic during this period and was producing multiple albums per year so he obviously had an ample amount of beats, but did this effect GZA's debut Liquid Swords adversely in the beat department? History would say no, due to the fact that 'Liquid Swords' is considered by many to be the best Wu-Tang solo album to date. In fact, some of RZA's best beats up to that point are to be found on 'Liquid Swords'. While the album does lose some steam after the first half it contains enough classic beats and good performances by GZA and his fellow Clan members to make this a truly memorable album which stands the test of time and is not forgotten but only rediscovered generation after generation. 

 Most of the movie dialogue on Liquid Sword is from Shogun Assassin (1980)

Most of the movie dialogue on Liquid Sword is from Shogun Assassin (1980)

One of the elements that make 'Liquid Swords' so atmospheric are the intros that appear before nearly every track, sometimes it's RZA just talking or him and some actors acting out scene involving a drug deal, but most of the dialogue comes from the 1980 jidaigeki film 'Shogun Assassin' and a bit from 'Dragon on Fire'. The dialogue plays well into the warrior theme of the album creating an interesting counterpoint to the drug dealing theme which also appears throughout the album. The movie dialogues are engaging, intriguing and feel right within the context of the music. 

  Advertisement

Advertisement

All nine Clan members plus a couple Wu-Affiliates appear on the album and Killah Priest even gets his own song on the album (GZA does not appear on this track). While you might think this would make the album feel overcrowded, it doesn't at all with enough solo track by GZA to make the guest appearances feel special.  A couple of the guest appearances on here are actually straight fire and provide a much-needed dose of energy to GZA's steady low key flow. The fire comes from Method Man on 'Shadowboxin' where he takes the track to another level and Ghostface Killah on '4th Chamber' where he really brings it on the lyrical content and flow. 

All in all, this is a lauded album to this day and appears on many best-of lists around the world, not bad for an album recorded in RZA's Staten Island basement studio, but so were all the early Wu albums! But ''Liquid Swords'' definitely was a great album and amazingly enough, RZA would still have more beats in store for Ghostface Killah's "Ironman" in 1996 and Wu-Tang's sophomore album ''Wu-Tang Forever'' in 1997. What a period of creativity, what an album.

 The back cover of Liquid Swords showing the tracklist and some artwork

The back cover of Liquid Swords showing the tracklist and some artwork

How Classic Is GZA's Liquid Swords?

CLASSIC: None | GREAT: Liquid Swords, Duel Of The Iron Mic, Livin In The World Today, 4th Chamber, Shadowboxin', Investigative Reports, B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth) | SOLID: Gold, Labels, Cold World, Swordsman, Hell's Wind Staff / Killah Hills 10304, I Gotcha Back

  How do the ratings work? 

  • Each track receives either a: classic, good, or dog shit rating.

  • A classic song = 5 pts - A good song = 3 pts - A dog shit song = 1 pts

  • The points are added up and divided by the number of songs

  • The score is then rounded to the nearest whole or half point, e.g. 3.5 or 4.0

  • The most classic rating for a album is 5 and the most dog shit rating is 1

ReviewsAlexander Ramalho