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.
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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.
GZA at The Stage December 3
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.