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GZA, aka the Genius, was the most cerebral MC in the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as perhaps the most acclaimed. His cool, precise flow and intricate, literate rhymes weren't as theatrical as Method Man or Ol' Dirty Bastard, the two biggest commercial stars to spring from the collective. But among hip-hop aficionados, GZA was revered for his flawless technique and lyrical dexterity, and was considered by many to be the best pure rapper in the entire Clan. GZA was born Gary Grice on August 22, 1966, on Staten Island, New York, and shuttled between several other New York boroughs with various relatives during his childhood. He started learning rhymes by the earliest hip-hop MCs while spending time in the Bronx, and returned to Staten Island to share them with his cousins, who later became known as Ol' Dirty Bastard and the RZA. In fact, the three of them first teamed up in the early '80s as part of an obscure group called All in Together Now. Time passed, and GZA landed a recording contract with Cold Chillin', which, unfortunately, was nearing the end of its brilliant run. In 1991, he became the only future Wu-Tang member to release a solo album prior to the Clan's formation, with Words from the Genius. Produced mostly by Easy Mo Bee, the album flopped badly and, creatively, did little to hint at GZA's future standing. Conflicts with the label sent him packing, and he reteamed with a similarly disenchanted RZA (fresh off a failed stint with Tommy Boy) and Ol' Dirty Bastard to co-found the Wu-Tang Clan. Adding six other friends and associates, the group became an underground sensation and took the rap world by storm with its 1993 debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Their innovative contract allowed each member to sign a solo deal with whatever label they chose, and GZA wound up on Geffen. In 1994, his first post-Wu solo track, "I Gotcha Back," appeared on the soundtrack of the film Fresh. His second solo album, Liquid Swords, followed in 1995 and was hailed as a hip-hop classic thanks to its coolly understated menace. While it didn't make him a star on the level of Method Man, the album did sell well, reaching the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 and falling one spot short of the top of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. There were no big mainstream hits, but the title cut, "Cold World," and "Shadowboxin'" all did well on the rap chart. Following the Clan's 1997 sophomore set, Wu-Tang Forever, GZA returned to the solo arena with 1999's Beneath the Surface. While critics didn't praise it quite as lavishly as Liquid Swords, it was another well-received effort (especially compared to some of the lackluster follow-ups elsewhere in the Wu-Tang camp), and it topped the Hip-Hop/R&B album chart. After reconvening with the Wu for 2000's The W and 2001's Iron Flag, GZA dropped his fourth solo effort, Legend of the Liquid Sword, in late 2002, consolidating his reputation as one of the most skillful rappers around. Grandmasters, a collaborative project between himself and Cypress Hill DJ Muggs, was released in 2005, followed the next year by an instrumental version and then a remix version in 2007. A year later GZA released the solo album Pro Tools on the indie label Babygrande. It featured guest shots from Wu affiliates RZA, Masta Killa, and producer Mathematics. GZA lectured at several universities, including Harvard and Oxford, and applied his academic connections and deep interest in science to develop a science-meets-hip-hop program dedicated to engaging New York City high school students. Additionally, he worked toward another solo album, Dark Matter, with electronic music pioneer Vangelis among his collaborators. ~ Steve Huey
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Stations Featuring

    Underground Hip-Hop

    Underground Hip-Hop
    3 songs

    '90s Hip-Hop

    '90s Hip-Hop
    1 song

Albums by

Top Songs by

  1.   Song
  2.   4th Chamber featuring Ghostface Killah
  3.   Liquid Swords
  4.   Shadowboxin'
  5.   Investigative Reports featuring Chef Raekwon
  6.   Breaker, Breaker by The Genius
  7.   Fame
  8.   Duel of The Iron Mic
  9.   Publicity by The Genius
  10.   Luminal
  11.   Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth by The Genius
  12.   Intromental
  13.   Alive and Safe by Genius
  14.   Uncut Material
  15.   Outro
  16.   Mic Trippin by The Genius
  17.   Hip Hop Fury
  18.   Beneath the Surface
  19.   Swordsman
  20.   Life Is a Movie featuring Irfane Khan-Acito
  21.   Columbian Ties featuring The Genius
  22.   Paper Plate
  23.   Short Race featuring Rock Marcy
  24.   Alphabets
  25.   Rough Cut
  26.   Legend of the Liquid Sword
  27.   Fam (Members Only)
  28.   Animal Planet
  29.   Knock, Knock
  30.   Silent
  31.   Auto Bio
  32.   Skit #4
  33.   High Price, Small Reward
  34.   Skit #1
  35.   Intro
  36.   Crash Your Crew
  37.   Life Is a Movie by The Genius
  38.   Intermission (Drive in Movie) by The Genius
  39.   Cinema featuring Justice Kareem
  40.   Firehouse featuring Ka
  41.   7 Pounds
  42.   Pencil
  43.   Sparring Minds
  44.   Highway Robbery
  45.   Stay in Line
  46.   Did Ya Say That
  47.   Victim
  48.   Elastic Audio featuring Dreddy Kruger
  49.   Stringplay (Like This, Like That)
  50.   Interlude by The Genius
  51.   Amplified Sample
  52.   Groundbreaking by The Genius
  53.   Firehouse by The Genius
  54.   Cinema by The Genius
  55.   Drive in Movie (Intermission) by The Genius
  56.   0% Finance
  57.   Back to Life Again by Genius
  58.   I Gotcha Back
  59.   Feel Like an Enemy
  60.   1112
  61.   Skit #3
  62.   Skit #2
  63.   Path of Destruction
  64.   Short Race
  65.   Colombian Ties by The Genius

Artists Related to GZA


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