Words from the Genuis: An Interview with GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan
After a delayed, then rushed performance at Apartment 720 Thursday night—or, technically, Friday morning—ExpressMilwaukee's Jacob Schneider caught up with Wu-Tang Clan rapper GZA about his classic solo album, Liquid Swords, his future plans with the RZA and the state of the Clan.
Let's talk about Liquid Swords. Looking back at the album now, knowing that it stands as one of the best, if not the best solo effort from any member of the Wu-Tang, tell me what it is that makes it stand the test of time?
I don't know. I ask myself that a lot and I think it was just the timing. I mean I love the album, it is one of my greatest, but sometimes I don't see what people see in it. Not to downplay it, but lyrically it's not the greatest thing from that period. I'm a whole lot stronger [now] lyrically. I think it was just the timing. It was an era where everyone was coming out solo and I think it came out at a perfect time when people were looking for something, or waiting for something they could listen to over and over.
Give some insight as to what the recording process for Liquid Swords was like. With RZA doing nearly all the production and guest appearances from every member of the Clan, how was it different from the Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) recording sessions?
Well, it was different with the amount of time and work that I had to put into it, but as far as the process goes it was pretty much the same. Everybody was always hanging out at RZA's place, people would come through and jump on. We were recording different albums at certain times. Raekwon might have been working on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... and I might have been working on Liquid Swords at the same time. People would just come through jump on stuff and vibe on it like that.
There has been some talk of your upcoming albums being solely produced by the RZA.
Well I plan on doing like two, or three, or four records with one of them definitely produced by RZA. We'll probably hit the studio in like five months.
Concerning the state of the Clan, has everybody made amends, or will it be a while before the public hears anything about a new Wu-Tang album, or a Wu-Tang tour with everybody on board?
Yeah I don't know, we all still gotta get into one room together and figure stuff out.
In other Clan news, Joe Budden has publicly apologized to Method Man for taking jabs at him and releasing a diss track. Now that that beef has been squashed, in retrospect do you think that Budden pulled it as a publicity stunt to promote his new group Slaughterhouse?
No I just think it was something that was blown out of proportion. I think the media took a hold of it and they blew it up. It escalated once Meth responded and then he [Budden] said something. I heard one of the early interviews when he was talking about it. He could have used a better choice of words, but I don't think he meant that he was going to physically take his head off. It may have sounded that way, but I think he was just saying what he felt, that he is nicer than dude. We all got ideas of who we think is nice and every MC think they the best. I don't really think it was anything that was serious.
On the track "Paper Plates" from last year's Pro Tools you called out 50 Cent for being lyrically wack, amongst other things. With so many so-called "ring-tone" rappers hijacking the spotlight these days, who are the exceptions? Who do you think is nice on today's scene?
There's not much. I don't really listen the radio or a lot of shit that's out there. In my free time I listen to a lot of classic shit, whether it be R&B, rock, pop or hip-hop, it's all classical. But they got quite a few dudes out right now. I like homeboy Drake. I like that Kid Cudi song ["Day 'N' Night"]. There is some young cats out there, some unsigned hype that's really strong lyrically. There's some underground cats like Cory Gunz that's really really good. I like me some of Lil Wayne's stuff. I think he's the one exception as far as the auto-tune thing goes.
It's understood that it's not an easy task to get the whole Clan together on the road, but the Wu-Tang Clan as a whole haven't done a show in Milwaukee since 2000. Can we get Milwaukee on the next tour's itinerary?
I would love to.