Space BallsBy Liquid Todd
Wu-Tang lyrical swordsman GZA prepares a “galactic adventure”
With a spacy new album set to drop early next year, Wu-Tang Clan founding member GZA is looking towards the future, but on his current tour The Genius is performing songs that came out when most of the people in the club were still learning to crawl.
“I’ve been doing the Liquid Swords, mostly,” he explains. “Promoters are hiring me to do that album. The interesting thing about it is the album is 17 years old, and a lot of the times most of the audience is 17 years old. And knowing every word.”
When it was released in late 1995, GZA’s second solo album shot up the Billboard Hot 100 chart—peaking at No. 9—and was certified gold a few months later. Universal recently reissued a two-CD box set version of Liquid Swords, complete with a mini chess set and an instrumental version of the album.
“One of the good things about performing the Liquid Swords album I have every single (Wu-Tang) Clan member on that album, but when I perform it they’re not really missed even if they’re not there because off that album I have nine solos.”
As his fans are well aware, besides the occasional Wu-Tang member GZA shuns guest appearances on his solo albums, and his forthcoming release, Dark Matter, is no exception.
“I’m used to that,” he says. “Knocking out albums. I come from that era. Nowadays artists have so many guest features that it doesn’t really even seem like it’s their album.”
According to GZA, Dark Matter isn’t designed to be performed in clubs—but is instead more of a “listening album.”
“It’s a cosmic journey through the universe,” he says. “A galactic adventure. A real interesting story.”
But GZA explains that his new album is inspired more by Stephen Hawking than Luke Skywalker.
“I’m not really into science fiction, but I’m into science. I’ve always been fascinated with science. Since I was young,” he says. “On this album I’m not studying it. I’m not coming at you like I’m an astrophysicist. It’s just like me telling cold world stories. It’s just very descriptive.”
As you’d expect from an artist often called the “spiritual head” of the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA has an enlightened view on medical marijuana.
“Keep hope alive. That’s what’s up. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with marijuana. Even if you smoke too much all it does is make you lazy and laid-back. From what I hear it helps people—as far as medical purposes,” he says. Although he’s currently on sabbatical from the herb (“Every now and then I take breaks.”) he is clearly a man who enjoys the medicine. And when the subject of edibles comes up GZA gets animated.
“Man they got brownies and lemonades and teas and velvet cakes! All kinds of stuff,” he says. “And when it kicks in . . . it kicks in. You won’t know it until you’re putting the remote control in the refrigerator. It may not even be anything that extreme. You may just be using the remote from the TV to turn on the radio.”
Ties That Bind
Solo tours aside, GZA says the bond between him and the rest of Wu-Tang’s members is unbreakable. He brushes off the subject of infighting. “We’re family,” he says. “There’s no separation. Of course every group is going to have problems. And there’s been stuff in the air. There’s been stuff online. It happens, man. Sometimes you just gotta go through it and deal with it.”