GZA – “Grandmasters” review

“DJ Muggs vs.” is a new series where Cypress Hill producer DJ Muggs will produce an entire album for a specific MC. And to kick off this new series, he’s teaming up with the GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan for his 5th full-length album. This isn’t the first time the 2 have ever hooked up though, GZA & his cousin/fellow Clan member RZA had a song on the Soul Assassins’ self-titled debut (which Muggs entirely produced himself) called “3rd World” & Muggs actually produced the song “Luminal” off of GZA’s previous album Legend of the Liquid Sword. So considering these 2 past collaborations, I wasn’t completely surprised about this collaborative album but I definitely got excited for it. The album’s opening song “Those That’s ‘Bout It” is an ode to all the real MCs out there & to me, the beat on here sounds similar to “Lab Drunk” off of the RZA’s heavily underrated full-length solo debut Bobby Digital in Stereo. The song “Destruction of a Guard” talks about murder & the soulful albeit eerie beat on is a throwback to some of the RZA beats one would find on the Clan’s classic 2nd group album Wu-Tang Forever. The song “Exploitation of Mistakes” is a story about a murder who eventually gets arrested at the end & what I love about this is song is that GZA sounds genuinely depressed while telling this vivid story & the keys as well as the vocal sample throughout provide the song with a depressing atmosphere. The next song “General Principles” is some sincere advice to all the newcomers in hip hop & the beat kinda has this mafioso vibe to it. The song “Queen’s Gambit” talks about this nympho the GZA eventually gets with & the way that he references almost every single NFL team throughout is a just reminder of why he’s called The Genius. The beat has these somber piano chords throughout which I personally find to be pretty. The song “All in Together Now” (named after the Wu-Tang Clan’s original name) is a tribute to GZA’s late cousin/fellow Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard & the guitar loop throughout kinds has this anger-inducing tone to it. This definitely isn’t a Liquid Swords 2 by any means, but it’s still a fantastic album in my opinion. The chess theme throughout (as some of you might see in the song titles) is smart, the rhymes are some of GZA’s best in a while & that actually goes with DJ Muggs’ production here too

Score: 4/5

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