Saturday, July 16, 2016

Don't call it a comeback: GZA's new music after 8 years does not disappoint

I'm not even sure why this subject matter deserves a blog post, considering anybody who would even think about clicking on this must surely already be a fan of GZA. Hence, they would expect that his new solo album after an 8 year absence wouldn't miss a beat, literally and figuratively.

Me? I had my doubts.

But when I learned GZA was in prime "Beneath the Surface" mode on a leaked single from his forthcoming "Dark Matter" album, I was all ears.

Is that song the end-all, be-all of rap? Of course not.

But any true GZA fan will tell you that's the shit we all want to hear from him, especially after such a prolonged absence from recording a full length album. We knew the lyrics and rhymes wouldn't be a question, but what could emerge as an issue is the production.

Hiphop music has consistently proven aging rappers increasingly have a worsening ear for beats. It's mostly a young man's game for a reason. 

But GZA, who will be 50 next month, is showing he can still compete with anybody, and the production for "The Spark" isn't bad at all. It's just not the classic RZA production, which is [not so] secretly what every GZA and Wu-Tang Clan fan would really want to hear.

And GZA hasn't been away from the booth since "Pro Tools" dropped eight summers ago. He's been featured on a ton of tracks over the years, including this gem from last year.

But spitting a couple of 16s and recording a full album -- a GZA album, no less -- are worlds apart.

But now, fast forward to this week and GZA drops another new track out of nowhere that just plain bangs out. As an added bonus, he does that lyrical thematic thing -- think "Labels," "Publicity" and "Animal Planet" -- by playfully and easily tossing around bars that reference the names of his past albums. The fact that the song is named "Skill of Stylez" should say it all

All of which leads me to believe this can't be a fluke. After all, he's been planning this album out for at least the past four years, when in 2012 he was on the college lecture circuit. This album is either going to only have two very good songs on it or will be GZA's triumphant return to the game. My bet is on the latter.

Brooklyn keeps on taking it, I guess.

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