Two decades after GZA’s Liquid Swords album was released, it has become certified platinum. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that, as of September 15th, 2015, Liquid Swords reached the million copies sold threshold. The album was released on November 7th, 1995, and is a favorite album among hip-hop fans worldwide.
The entire Liquid Swords album was recorded in RZA’s basement studio, in Staten Island, NY. Over 90% of the album was produced by RZA, 12 of the 13 songs to be exact. GZA humbly values the genius behind the masterpiece, in an interview with the Seattle Times. He stated that “Lyrically, it’s not my best work.” However, he went on to say, “But the chemistry? Production? Overall, I mean c’mon! RZA’s atmospheric production? Yes. It’s my best album.”
RZA’s significant use of sampling dialogue from the movie Shogun Assassin was not only brilliant, but it set the tone for the acclaimed album. Ironically, in the making of the album, “The Genius” had yet to watch Shogun Assassin. Knowing this, during the mastering of the album, RZA sent the engineer to go buy the movie. GZA stated that he loved the movie immediately, and felt that the film’s theme was a great fit for the album.
With such a complex level of creativity, the birth of these mid-90s hip-hop classics, utilizing 1970s funk samples mixed with grimy drum breaks, brought back a unique and distinctive feel that hip-hop fans label as “The Golden Era.” The process of developing this piece of art was so in-depth, that the record “Cold World” contains five different samples. Liquid Swords selling its first million copies solidifies what the tastemakers have been claiming all along by ranking it rather high, as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. This accomplishment is not only for GZA, RZA, and/or the Wu-Tang Clan, but for the genre as a whole. This victorious achievement screams, “Hip-hop is not dead! Not only is it alive, but we’re doing great!”
Stream Liquid Swords by The GZA below: