GZA - Beneath The Surface      
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written by Philip Oliver    
I always knew Gza would never create a masterpiece similar in vein to liquid swords but I’ve noticed his absence from nearly every Wu cameo in the last 2 years (apart from Deadly venomz ‘One more to go’) so I had a feeling he was up to something.

Out of nowhere and on time, the GZA delivers his 3rd solo album to the masses which is some mean feat if your down with Wu-Tang, delays and setbacks mean we usually wait 1 year plus after hearing they are gonna drop an album. Its difficult not to compare this to the last opus he dropped, some things are similar, a ‘labels’ type joint, a track where he don’t appear at all and of course the lyrical sharpness of Maximillion. So its time to leave the comparisons with Liquid Swords there, I’m looking at this album as totally different and looking for the Wu to regain their crown

The album begins like an advert for his return, which is really unnecessary, as when the strings kick in during the first minute no introduction is needed Genius has returned. The beat heavy ‘Amplified sample’ is the first real test of whether he still has it and you guessed it, he passes with flying colors. Straight afterwards the Title track confirms that the Genius has been sorely missed by all of us, with a hint of familiar production underlying. This isn’t vintage Wu its Wu2000 and Killah Priest drops by for the first of 3 tracks he guests on throughout the LP. Why 2 skits appear one after another I ain’t sure so like every other skit they become boring after about 4 listens but who cares because it lays straight into ‘Crash Ya crew’, now this track is tha shit. I only have one problem, ODB!! I mean he's screaming mad on this and it can get annoying, now if he’d dropped a verse it would have made this track even better than it is now, a few desperate yells won’t do.

You should have all copped the 12" ‘Breaker Breaker’ with the flipside ‘Publicity’ by now but for those of you who been on another planet you should know that ‘Publicity’ is the current Wu banger that takes Magazines names in the same way as Gza did on ‘labels’ and flips them with clever wordplay into his verse over a very dope Mathematics beat. Now ‘Breaker Breaker’ is completely different, it’s a bit too light with its sample courtesy of Arabian Knight although GZA is consistent with lines like ‘You break the mirror that reminds you of ya ugliness’ it just seems too ‘Clean’ in its sound. Its not gritty enough, maybe if he had done his whole verse down the walky talkie like he did the hook it would have sounded better.

‘High price’ featuring Masta Killa is far too short, this track is more of that good shit and Masta Killa again shines due to the fact that on here at least he’s dumped the talking flow he adopted for the last 3 years, he's actually riding the beat. Masta Killa also pops up in top form again on ‘1112’ along with Killah Priest and female emcee Njeri to create a hectic sounding track that stinks of greatness.

Its not a Wu album without collaboration with the rest of the Wu but this time round Gza seems to have opted for one or 2 core members and showcasing more of the Wu-elements. These collabos are probably some of the albums best points, ‘Stringplay’ with Meth is ill as fuck and ‘Feel like an enemy’ which doesn’t even feature GZA, has Hell razah, Killah priest and Trigga on there. The best out of all 3 is definitely ‘Hip Hop fury’, its bells of war are aided by a hook from RZA, a verse from Hell Razah and ya know Timbo king and the Fam had to drop by. That track along with the Outro that Timbo and La the Darkman assist in dropping verses over that Ill string loop we hear in the intro only has me waiting harder on this Royal Fam album.

This album remains consistent throughout, even leaving on a high with the closer that is ‘Mic Trippin’. You can’t really call any tracks mediocre on here at all, it stands head and shoulders above any Wu related release we’ve experienced lately. If I only have one problem its that it way to short but that’s always a trait of a good album, to actually leave you wanting more. But less than 50 minutes is very short and with 5 skits making up the 18 tracks it seems like a waste.

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