GZA is in Dublin for three days for a showcase of his 1995 album Liquid Swords – the greatest of all the solo Wu-Tang clan releases, and a true hip-hop hall of fame record.
Liquid Swords is the most distilled, controlled Wu-Tang solo release, shot through with righteous wisdom, mysticism, astute back seat commentary, Shaolin myth-building and of course The Genius’s perfect bars.
And aside from the near-miraculous pairing of RZA’s murky, wintry production — he selected beats to suit each Clan member’s strengths — Liquid Swords has by far the best use of martial arts movie samples in the wider Wu-Tang universe. Most of the dialogue is from the 1980 splatter-fest Shogun Assassin, a ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ revenge movie, with a famed swordsman (the Shogun Decapitator) on a mission to avenge his wife’s death by ninja spies, along with his young son.
The album begins with the young Cub’s retelling of a failed assassination attempt on his father, and ends with the whistling wind from the slit neck of the Wolf’s victim. In between, it’s got the best samples in Wu folklore: “Oh mad one! We see your trap”; “You don’t understand my words, but you must choose”; “People say his brain was infected by devils”. It goes on.
As an aside to cult watching and ticking off samples, Shogun Assassin may well have the best trailer of the 80s — with hyper-real sword clashes and flesh slits over an amazing arpeggiated synth bassline, and Movie Trailer Guy giving it his best: “Like father, like son, meet the greatest team in the history of mass slaughter.”