Legends Of The Liquid Sword
Record label: MCA
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 10 December 2002

The Genius is the backbone of the WU-Tang Clan. One of the nine brothers who, along with the RZA and ODB, were the beginnings of the WU. Without question one of the tightest and most conscious lyricists of the Clan, GZA has always brought an abstract, conscious, and left of center style to his sharp, on-point flow. His fourth solo album Legend of the Liquid Sword is his follow-up to the slept on Beneath the Surface and keeps GZA on the path that he has followed since Liquid Swords.

While the title suggests that this may be a sequel to his classic sophomore album, the similarities largely stop at the name reference. More polished production-wise, Legend has its moments of the gritty raw sound of earlier releases from GZA, but overall this is a more produced album. This doesn't take away from the dark and brooding soundscapes that run throughout. GZA executive produced the album and received beats from RZA, Jaz-O, Arabian Knight, Boola, Jay Garfield, Bink, Muggs, and Mathematics. Inspectah Deck, Rza, Masta Killa, GhostFace Killah, Streetlife, Armel, Prodigal Sunn, and 12 O’clock only make up the guest emcees. The album features a variety of reggae and R&B singers which, coupled with the guests, sometimes makes the album feel a little congested.

The star of this show is the GZA. With or without his WU brethren he shines throughout, and continues to prove he is one of the best (if not the best...) Wu lyricist. On “Auto Bio” he talks of the legacy he looks to leave behind as well as how he and WU came into the game. “Did Ya Say That“ is GZA's commentary on the rap industry behind a haunting keys sample. The best track, "Legend Of The Liquid Swords" was produced by Jaz-O with the hook being sung by Anthony Allen doing his best Isleys impersonation. GZA's bragadocious wordplay and smooth flow ride the beautiful key loop perfectly. One of the most versatile emcees bar none, we get a hint of creativity with “Animal Planet” and “Fame.” Again, GZA breaks down mad topics by using the names of famous people and various animals. “Animal Planet” is probably the best of these as the wordplay/association is too dope. Overall, this album is solid. It isn't Liquid Swords, but it definitely is a step up production wise from Beneath the Surface. Lyrically, GZA stays tight and always comes raw. If you love the WU and love GZA's style, this album will not disappoint.

{mikal lee (hired gun)}

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