Why is GZA’s Words from the Genius on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
A genius by the name of GZA emerges on the scene.
Some stats & info about GZA’s Words from the Genius
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, East Coast Rap, Old School Hip Hop
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 2 out of 5 stars (!!)
- When was Words from the Genius released? 1991
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #781 out of 1,000
GZA’s Words from the Genius on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does GZA’s Words from the Genius mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I’d imagine that many people who have had the opportunity to check out Words from the Genius took a similar path that I took: obsession with the Wu-Tang Clan leads to diving into the Wu collective’s output leads to getting one’s mind melted by albums like GZA’s Liquid Swords. And from that point, you go deeper and Ghostface Killer’s Fishscale and Cappadonna’s The Pillage and so many more.
But that’s enough. You need more. And the crazy thing is that in the Wu-verse, there’s always more and it’s almost always good.
Now, when I first checked out Words from the Genius from this perspective, it’s natural to think, “What is this GZA album that sounds like throwback ‘80s east coast rap?” And then you realize, oh, this is from 1991, pre-Wu-Tang, pre-Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). And, in fact, much of the album is produced by Easy Mo Bee, known at the time for producing such artists Big Daddy Kane (he’d go on to work with the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac).
But then you think, “Uh, it’s GZA doing an old school hip hop thing, but it’s sophisticated and sounds great and… it’s really good in its own right.”
“Drama” is a great example that shows off GZA’s superior rapping skills. The spare production and relatively simple yet effective samples put GZA fully in the spotlight, and he shines.
“Those Were the Days” shows signs of influence from the likes of KRS-One and Eric B* & Rakim. These influences are much less apparent (if they’re apparent at all) on GZA’s later work, showing how much he evolved as an artist in a relatively short amount of time.
* As a fellow Eric B, I approve of the artistic doings of my fellow Eric Bs worldwide.
“Stop the Nonsense” brings out the funk while continuing to allow GZA to display is dazzling hip hop skills.