Oct. 8, 2012 06:11

Countdown to CMJ


We know you dig music—sometimes more than we do. So with the upcoming CMJ Music Marathon 2012 all ready to showcase five straight days of new music and cool bands, we here at CULTURE decided to give you a taste of what what’s in store. Starting today, CULTURE will post a band or musical artist to bring our readers up to speed about the latest sonic discoveries.


Name: GZA

Active Since: 1989

Signature Album: Liquid Swords (Dark Matter forthcoming, folks!)

Digs: Chess metaphors and complex verbal assemblages.

Factoids: Once recorded a "dis" track against 50 Cent. Earlier this year, delivered a "Hip-Hop as Civic Media" lecture at MIT.

Whether you’ve been down since the pre-Wu days of Words from the Genius . . . or became a diehard convert after listening to his Liquid Swords CD (yes, we had CDs in the ’90s), it’s clear that GZA has always been head-and-shoulders above the usual hip-hop practitioners. Confident, literate, humble, complex, scientific, GZA (who cashes checks under the name Gary Grice) is the type of artist who can lyrical demolish you with rhymes one minute, then drop science (literally) by giving a lecture at MIT (no joke) the next. Sure, Liquid Swords came out 17 years ago, but “Duel of the Iron Mic” and “4th Chamber” sound just as fresh and cerebral now as they did when GZA first picked up his mic in faraway Shaolin land. Young bucks, take a lesson from a rapper who’s always on point and who hits with the impact of roundhouse kicks from black belts.

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