Last time the GZA rolled into town, he reminded a packed house at Richard’s why his other stage name is “the Genius,” rapping his way through Liquid Swords from front to back. This time around, the show wasn’t advertised as a full run-through of his solo debut, but the set still leaned heavily on the hip-hop classic. Nevertheless, while the rest of his output has been spotty, the featured tracks from the latter part of his catalogue were well chosen. The thing that threatened to kill the show wasn’t the songs themselves, but the set order.
As good as the more recent tracks are, few of them live up to the songs that make Liquid Swords the finest Wu-Tang solo joint. With that in mind, the GZA’s decision to play the most recognizable of his classic tracks in the first half of the set was a strange one. It made for a riveting first 40 minutes, but things started to drag a little after that. That is, until a surprise guest made his way on stage.
Apparently, Talib Kweli’s a pretty big fan of the Genius, because he stuck around in Vancouver after his own show the night before just to check the GZA out. A “way too drunk” Kweli was called on stage to freestyle while the headliner shook hands with fans and signed autographs. His level of intoxication meant he wasn’t quite as sharp as he can be, but even a tipsy Kweli was pretty impressive.
At the end of the day, the GZA solo wasn’t as compelling as the entire Clan coming together like Voltron, but it was still worth checking out.