Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Genius/GZA [extended]

  • Liquid Swords [Geffen, 1995] **
  • Beneath the Surface [MCA, 1999] *
  • Legend of the Liquid Sword [MCA, 2002] **
  • Grandmasters [Angeles, 2005] **
  • Pro Tools [Babygrande, 2008] B+

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Liquid Swords [Geffen, 1995]
gangsta as mystery, religious and literary ("Shadowboxin'," "Killah Hills 10304") **

Beneath the Surface [MCA, 1999]
He means the surface of a frozen lake, if I'm not mistaken ("Victim," "Crash Your Crew"). *

GZA/Genius: Legend of the Liquid Sword [MCA, 2002]
"Record execs wanna push the album way back?/And hold back my advance? They didn't pay that" ("Rough Cut," "Knock, Knock") **

DJ Muggs Vs GZA the Genius: Grandmasters [Angeles, 2005]
RZA-inspired beats, CSI-inspired rhymes ("Destruction of a Guard," "Exploitation of Mistakes"). **

GZA/Genius: Pro Tools [Babygrande, 2008]
Never thought I'd say this, but RZA isn't missed--the budget production enhances a master lyricist's specialty by subtraction. After dispensing with the "horrific torture by prolific authors" upsmanship, he's both factual, as on the doomed "Short Race" and "Path of Destruction," and fanciful, as on "0% Finance"'s renovated terraplane and "Cinema"'s scary movie. RZA re-enters rapping on the farewell "Life Is a Movie," in which a wild script takes off from humble facts but runs into trouble in production. B+