By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
After the Wu-Tang mother ship crashed full force into pop culture with the release of the 1993 gangsta rap classic Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), the first order of business was to send out the pods.
Method Man was the first to strike out solo with 1994's stellar and intensely hard-core Tical. But it wasn't until '95 when the prolific, nine-rapper collective hit its real stride, releasing now-classic solo debuts from Ol' Dirty Bastard, Ghostface Killah, and Raekwon, each of which garnered tremendous amounts of acclaim from across the commercial-to-underground rap spectrum.
The GZA's Liquid Swords also dropped in 1995. And though it received significantly less fanfare compared to other Wu crew records, the decade-plus since its release has seen a snowballing appreciation for the previously cult classic. Of the myriad distinct personalities and narrative signatures within the Wu-Tang fold, GZA (AKA the Genius) might be the most understated and straightforwardly lyrical. Where the rest of the group — save for Master Splinter, otherwise known as RZA — built characters around different kinds of vulgar intensity (be it Meth's hard and nasty gangsta-isms, ODB's manic hysteria, or Raekwon's delicate narratives), GZA brought the Wu into a realm of cerebral yet street-level rumination. More than any other Killa Bee, the Genius provided a complex and totally relatable first-person perspective.
And smack dab in the middle of Basel week, he'll perform the entirety of his magnum opus within the exceptionally intimate confines of the Stage. Don't miss the GZA.