Thursday, July 24, 2008


True genius can not be rushed. In the case of the legendary lyricist GZA, time has always been on his side. With Pro Tools, GZA’s latest release and fifth solo album courtesy of renowned indie Babygrande Records, the masterful MC adds yet another lyrically stunning LP to his rich musical catalogue. For the past 15 years, GZA has been stretching the sensibility of modern-day hip-hop with his finely crafted, thought provoking wordplay which he credits to his willingness to delve deep into the written word.

“I’m not one to write a rhyme in 30 minutes,” says GZA about his sometimes protracted creative process. “Once RZA came to me and was like, ‘Don’t take two fuckin’ weeks to write a verse man, don’t strain your brain.’ Then when I take two weeks to write something he’ll be like, ‘This is a masterpiece man!’ That’s how I have to do it, I like to work like that.”
As one of the founding members of the mighty Wu-Tang Clan, GZA’s mic mastery first gained prominence in 1993 with the release of the Clan’s first LP, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Two years later, GZA released his second solo album, Liquid Swords on Geffen Records which went on to sell over one million copies and earn a platinum plaque. Throughout his various projects with the Wu and classic appearances on other member’s side projects, GZA maintained a reputation as a skilled wordsmith with a highly recognizable and authoritative delivery.

“There’s always a double or triple meaning when I’m rhyming, that’s the good thing about it,” says the cerebral MC. “People can listen to something over and over and hear something different every time. That’s what writing is about. I don’t want to be simple, I don’t want to be literal.”

Originally slated to be a compilation featuring notable up & comers interlaced with a few of GZA’s own rhymes, the seeds of what would ultimately become Pro Tools were laid close to two years ago. After acquiring a bevy of beats and Wu-fam guest appearances, he decided to scrap the idea of a compilation and turned the album into a forum to flex his latest rhyme styles. With an overall technique that builds off of one of the greatest strengths of a good MC, GZA says Pro Tools features a higher level of braggadocio than heard on his past work. His favorite track on the album, “Zero Percent Finance” finds him name checking expensive cars and accessories in a way that challenges the hip-hop norm.

“I have a history of doing these songs where I incorporate the names of labels, famous people or animals like I did on ‘Animal Planet,’” he says. “This time I’m speaking about cars but I’m speaking about them in a whole different fashion. I start the song off by saying, ‘I took her off the floor, no money down.’ I’m talking about a female but I’m comparing her to a car. I’m not talking about how much my rims cost, my soft leather seats, the TVs in the headrest and all these things that really have no value or meaning to me.” Even when he’s taking on a certain Vitamin Water mogul as heard on the leak track “Paper Plate” (that’s currently burning up the web), GZA infuses his flow with vivid imagery and metaphorical symbolism. The reference to “Paper Plate” connotes the disposability of certain emcees’ rhymes and their questionable long term career prospects.

Traveling further into the far reaches of GZA’s imagination, “Nightmares,” a track produced by Arabian Night, takes listeners on a haunted ride through the paranormal. With additional production from RZA, Tru Master and Bronze Nazareth, Pro Tools is an audible continuation of the coveted Wu-Tang aesthetic. “I never focus on what people are listening to or what other guys are doing,” says GZA. “Since day one it’s always been about lyrics so I never go into the studio with the idea of making a club song or a radio song or something that females will like, it just has to come naturally.”

With another finely tuned project to his credit, GZA continues to hold his standing as one of the rap game’s most well versed lyricists. With the release of Pro Tools, hip-hop fans around the world will be able to catch an even deeper view into what goes on in the mind of a master. “I just think it’s a great piece of work,” says GZA. “It’s something that people will enjoy and will love to have. It’s needed.”

I consider myself an old school' Wu fan and GZA's Liquid Swords has always been a staple in my hip-hop rotation, with this release judging by the first single Paper Plate which takes aim at G-Units main man Mr. Curtis jackson himself, GZA takes us back to the days of glory.

Pro Tools is out August 19th

GZA-Paper Plate (MP3)