If you are living in the world today, remember to read the labels when entering the cold world of killah hills 10304. Investigative reports state that the duel of the iron mic took place in the 4th chamber. And it was the infamous shadowboxin' technique that lured MC's into the razor sharp blades of solid gold, liquid swords. Feel the wrath of the hell's wind staff and learn the basic instruction before leaving earth is to explain the unexplained. And those who scream keep it real and yo god, I gotcha back, kill the fraudulent and honor the code of the lyrical swordsman.
- GZA; Wu-Tang Manual 4:12
For my money, Liquid Swords is the best Wu-Tang Clan album. It's like the Songs in the Key of Life of rap. It's so fucking smart and so hard. Everybody's on there, too. You don't really need a Wu-Tang album; Liquid Swords is all you really need to know. As you grow older, you look for records that hold up. And Liquid Swords holds up.
- Chris Rock; Rolling Stone Magazine, 2006
Call me crazy, but I agree with Chris. I think I like Liquid Swords more than any other Wu album - and I'm not just talking about the solo joints. With that being said, it was about time that I'd updated this sample set, especially after having done so for last summer's OB4CL compilation. Originally consisting of twelve samples, the set's been bulked up with a playlist of twenty-five tracks. The toughest part was digging for and chopping up the various martial arts film snippets strewn about the album. The three films in question are the great Shogun Assassin, the also-great Shaolin vs. Lama, and the kinda-great/hysterically-crappy Dragon on Fire. (Side note: How crappy is Dragon on Fire? Well, there are some cool fight scenes and a few memorable characters, sure. But there's also a scene in which a man's penis is ripped off by a German Shepherd. Why there's a German Shepherd in pre-industrial Japan is a question for another day. The funny part is that they used a hot dog as a prop penis. An easily-distinguishable, actual hot dog. The entire scene is highly LOL-worthy, but I digress.) Watching those films - Shogun Assassin, specifically - will offer a new perspective on your Liquid Swords listening experience.
Overall, the eclecticism of this sample set is what makes it one of my (new) favorites. Starting off with a couple of bluesy tracks by the great Willie Mitchell (who passed away this year), the set progresses into deeper soul territory by David Porter, Stevie Wonder and The-Bar-Kays. The soul sisters come in full force too, with some golden cuts by Ann Sexton, Ann Peebles, and a recognizable tune by The Charmels. Then the set simply gets busted open by the experimental jazz from Cannonball Adderley's Zodiac LP, the zany progressive rock of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, and some Bollywood goodness from the film Dharmatma (FYI: also sampled by Madlib). I'm particularly fond of Three Dog' Night's "I'd Be So Happy", a lovely rock ballad sampled on "Investigative Reports". Props to RZA on all that. Finally, let's not forget the sole contribution from 4th Disciple who produced Killah Priest's jaw-droppingly amazing "B.I.B.L.E." - utilizing an emotive recording off Ohio Players' Pleasure LP.
The playlist I've compiled obviously owes its props to the greatness that is Liquid Swords, marked by the GZA's poly-dimensional penmanship and the RZA's cinematic visions. Unquestionably, the announcement of a follow-up record has got me on pins and needles, given the signed, sealed and delivered promise kept by The Chef just a year ago. I honestly get the sense that the stars are aligned for Liquid Swords 2: The Return of The Shadowboxer to be a modern-day classic. As it is written, so shall it be done! Enjoy this sample set in the meantime. :) And as always... Turn it up!!