1995, Music

Liquid Swords (1995) by GZA

This is reputed to be one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and I honestly have no idea why.

I am not a hip hop fan, but I’ve been listening to a lot of a hip hop over the last few years and I’m getting to the point where I understand the history a little bit, and have a much better idea of the context of particular albums. And I’m getting to the point that, sometimes, when I come up a highly acclaimed record, I actually get it, I know why, I can hear it in the music and not just read about it on Wikipedia or on Rate Your Music.

But that’s not true with this record. I really have no idea why. I’m trying, but I’m kind of lost.

I agree, the production is excellent. But it’s pretty typical RZA production, right? Maybe it’s better than that – I honestly haven’t heard enough Wu Tang records to know. I guess if I had heard more Wu Tang records – and, particularly if I’d listened to their earlier stuff recently – I might hear it. But, as it is, it sounds like very typical RZA stuff to me. Good, for sure. Extremely distinct and recognizable. But GOAT production?

I can’t speak much to GZA’s flow. As someone who doesn’t know hip hop very well, I always find it easier to hear distinct flow than I do good flow. It’s far easier for me to understand what makes Ol’ Dirty distinct and significant than someone like GZA. That’s obviously no slight on GZA, it just another reason why I don’t get it.

As to the lyrics – again, I think they’re good for the genre. But this idea that they are among the best of their era – again, I’m lost. I really don’t know why. With someone like Nas, I really get it. I remember when I first heard him and I was like “Whoa, I didn’t even know people rapped like that.” (So I guess this applies to flow too.) But, try as I might, I don’t really get why GZA is considered so much better than so many other rappers.

But my ignorance is certainly no indictment of this record. And I recognize that it is much better than many other contemporary hip hop records. I just can’t figure out why this album is considered one of the best of all time.


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