GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ Turns 15 Years Old

On November 7, 1995 Wu-Tang Clansman GZA released his second, but most celebrated album Liquid Swords. Ripe with Kung-Fu flick samples, haunting loops and razor sharp lyrics, GZA’s crowning jewel moved approximately 980k copies and earned the Brooklyn MC hip-hop props that have lasted him over the past decade and a half.

The album’s first single “I Gotcha Back” appeared on the Fresh soundtrack in 1994, and the second “Liquid Swords” dropped a year later. While the album presented vivid street imagery (“Gold, ”“Cold World,” “Killa Hills 10304” and “Investigative Reports”), its creatively prose made Liquid Swords stand out from all the criminally minded LPs of its era.

For the past 15 years fans have celebrated the harmonic balance of the Genius’ quotable rhymes and the RZA’s murderous beats (RZA produced 12 of 13 tracks, 4th Disciple produced the Killah Priest solo bonus cut “B.I.B.L.E.”). Only time will tell if hip-hop purists will be bumping the Wu-banger for another 15, but to celebrate XXL broke down the beats, samples and lyrics that all combined in the creation of Liquid Swords. Shouts to Hip-Hop Is Read for the diggin’. — Rob Markman

[1] “Liquid Swords”

The album’s title track starts off with sampled dialogue from the 1980 film Shogun Assassin, before rolling into the bouncy track which samples “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and “Groovin’,” both by Mississippi soul singer Willie Mitchell. Once the track kicks in the Genius strings together an array of free-associative rhyme patterns.

“The Legend of Lone Wolf”

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Willie Mitchell

“Groovin’” by Willie Mitchell

Notable Lyrics
“’Cause niggas styles are old like Mark 5 sneakers/Lyrics are weak, like clock radio speakers.”

“It’s a wide entrance, small exit like a funnel/So deep it’s picked up on radios in tunnels.”

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  • http://www.bboycult.com Don mcCaine

    Yo Rob…

    #11 is ‘I Got Ya Back’ also…n/e way…

    “Do you know a Don Rodriquez, from the Bronx…”

    classic. Rza was in a zone, he killed ’4th Chamber’.

    ‘B.I.B.L.E.’ was monster, ‘Shadowboxing’ was bananas.

    LS is easily a top 5 Wu album.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Pierzy Pierzy

    One of my favorite albums ever…I think it should be mentioned in the same breath as The Purple Tape.

    We used to constantly argue about the best track on the album – “4th Chamber,” “Shadowboxin’,” “Investigative Reports”…the list goes on.

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  • Q461

    @ Pierzy

    Co-sign. One of my fav albums ever. I know most songs word for word. Best out the Wutang solo albums imo, no disrespect to the purple tape. I smoked so many L’s to this shit back in the day. Duel of the Iron Mic, Shadowboxin, BIBLE, Labels, Investigative Reports, Cold World, 4th Chamber…just hip-hop classic dripping from the album…even down to the sick cover art.

  • brand-new

    i agree with q461, this was the best of all the wu-tang solo albums. i love how it has that dark grimey edge to it. it sounds like it was recorded in a shitty smoked out basement, but it adds to the sound and feel of the album. good lookin out for posting the samples, that was cool to check out.

  • Simon

    Gay album. If you listen to this then you must jack off at the thought of random Gucci Mane mixtapes or some shit like that. Have fun ruining hip-hop with this oversaturated shit.

    Liquid Swords…… nigga you gay. Turn the stove on and put your hand on that shit.

    • churchburna

      kiss my ass fuck nigga

      flockaveli in stores now pussy

    • Kingroy

      What the fuck Simon? You called a classic album gay. It’s one thing to state your opinion then it’s another to spit on something. Liquid Swords helped structured Hip-Hop you ass. Very stupid to say.

  • http://xxlmag.com uncle shady 1316

    simons a fuckin flowerpot head!!!! this is classic material, u couldnt fuck with one line ever n ya life…anyway this n cuban r my fav solos from the wu…my memorex perform tapedecks/my own phone sex, watch out for haiti bitches i heard they throw hex…this song is full of gems…wu-tang forever bitches

  • http://xxlmag.com uncle shady 1316

    i guess gza had to get investigative reports back cuz rza said incarcerated scarfaces was for gza but rae just came n n murked that shit n a hour n that was that…one of my fav songs ever super hard… oh yea fuck simon lmfao

  • http://www.bboycult.com Don mcCaine

    Simon says:

    ^ comment fail

    @ uncle

    that ’4th Chamber’ is high explosives

  • Simple like ABC, 123

    Check this, RZA (in 1995)
    take Groovin’ (a happy song)
    + sample just 6 to 7 seconds of the song
    = create a (scary) beat. Damn!!!

    Results? A Classic!!!

    That’s a Hip-Hop PRODUCER
    RZA = GOD

  • Lacey Wilcox

    One word: CLASSIC!!!!

  • larryr

    if what Ivan at hiphopisread says is true, why dis him by plagiarizing his work? we’re all taking from eachother but, no mention, no credit, no props?…..and no heart

  • Dead President

    2words… FUCK simon.

  • YMCM

    this is horrible!!
    Are you Guys serious? That was just horrible..oh my God, how could even listen to that weird bullshit?? How could you even dance to that crap? I will never understand these old school niggas smh….
    Well, i´m really glad that i´m growing up in an era with real music and real artists like Lil Wayne, Kaney West, Drake, Kid Cudi, Rick Ross etc.
    The Youth needs music they can dance to, not this weird junkie-music!!

    • Simple like ABC, 123

      90′s > 80′s > 2010 > 00′s

    • Malik

      Kanye wouldn’t exist with RZA.

    • Dick B.

      Why does every song you listen to you dance. Not all music is made for dancing. Its hard to truly appreciate music (like this for example) when you’re to busy shaking your a**. If you really believe Rick Ross is big in the drug trafficing business or Lil Wayne is having sex with female police officer models who happen to pull him over, you must be really gullible.

  • chicken kiev

    your all getting successfully trolled by simon and ymcm
    6/10 though.

  • Benovite

    I think RZA is at his best when working with GZA.


  • alderman j


  • adrian smith england birmingham

    gza liquid sword is a true hip hop classic intro taken from a banned kung fu classic film i will not name it go do ya homework if ya no love this albumso much its on my phone mp3 text message thankz gza

  • http://www.myspace.com/slotchmusic ms_spittuh

    Wow. I haven’t heard this cd since I was a little girl! Good looking out XXL! :)

  • http://yahoo.com jeremih

    yo….some of yall wildin out didnt you buy this album and trash it and then go in the trash to get it and said “naw i never bought it?

    • Anonymous

      yeah we’re being trolled

  • eloheem777

    2 simon eat a dick fuckin retard

  • GMBeats95

    What the fuck is wrong with some of the people on here? The youth NEEDS this music to see the light. If you like Lil wayne, drake, nicki minaj theres something wrong with you

  • Dick B.

    RZA has used “As Long As I’ve Got You” by The Charmels for so many classic Wu Tang records it’s not even funny. I love listening to the original song sampled.

    YMCM & Simon grew up on bad music. Don’t blame it on them, blame it on their raising up.

  • balaramesh


    this is next after 36 chambers and purple tape.


    B.I.B.L.E stands the test of time it still sounds so fresh

  • kcz253z

    One of the best EVER!!!!! 4th chamber is a beast of a record. GZA the Genius!! When they form like Voltron GZA is the head!

  • Officer Ricky

    yo yall is some bitches man, jackin hip hop is read’s shit…anybody reading this, this shit came from hiphopisread.blogspot.com, yo XXL the least yall could do is credit Ivan and untag his MP3s, lazy, biting motherfuckers

  • scjoha

    Instead of this hassle about robbing Ivan/HHIR of his credit, then adding it, after he puts you on blast – why didn’t you do a nice “Making of Liquid Swords” as you did for other HipHop classics? There aren’t enough of those. And it would have been appropriate for LS’s 15 years.
    Would have been some good ol’ journalism, which is what we really need instead of the same ol’ internet plagiarism.
    Disappointing. I would love to see you resume taking responsibility of documenting HipHop history.

  • scjoha

    ^”You” in this case is XXLmag.

    Thanks for allowing this comment today, after blocking it yesterday. Tsss…
    No criticism allowed here, huh? Only when the comments are a few dozens deep, buried deep down where nobody reads it. Wtf

  • http://chasemarch.blogpsot.com Chase March

    I didn’t want to inflate the stats for this page without mentioning that I came here from Hip Hop is Read.

    I can’t believe a major publication such as yours could steal so blatantly. re

    Internet content is not free for the taking. This is a big issue. Credit is due.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/pegz pegz ncl uk

    wu tang are undissable. point blank.

    hip hop is read rules too.

    apparently biting is not a crime anymore?

  • Ninja

    Yeah, belated shouts to Ivan @ HHIR for, ya know, doing all the work and shit.

    That’s some amateur bush league bullshit right there.

  • d

    hiphoisread >>> xxl

    Thats some sucker shit,B.

  • die-lawn

    ROB, you’re a thief, and a shitty one at that. eat shit and die

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  • http://hiphopisread.com Funk Doc

    My comment want published. Wonder why.

    HHIR >>>>> bad aids >>>>> XXL.

    Eminem had the right idea back in 2000…

  • martini

    XXL killed it puttin da original samples on there,its always good 2 kno your history.

    Real heads understand. Nu-jacks aint got love 4 dis old skool shit.

    Real hip-hop da way it should be!


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