Massachusetts Daily Collegian

GZA/Genius to perform at Pearl Street Nightclub

By Emily Felder

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This Wednesday, renowned hip-hop artist and Wu-Tang Clan member GZA, also known as The Genius, will be performing at Northampton’s Pearl Street Nightclub.

Mostly known as a founding member of the pivotal hip-hop group, GZA has been releasing his own solo albums and singles since the early 1990s. His first solo album, “Words from the Genius,” was released in 1991, making it the only album released by a member of the Wu-Tang Clan before its founding and subsequent success.

After the release of the group’s critically acclaimed debut album, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers),” in 1993, GZA went on to sign with Geffen and MCA Records and produce his second solo studio album, “Liquid Swords,” in 1995. The album reached No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 9 on the Billboard Top 200.

GZA has continued to produce solo material throughout Wu-Tang’s existence, a tendency that the group’s members are known for.  Wu-Tang’s other members, RZA, Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, have all gone on to release their own respective albums and compilations. In fact, of the nine original members of the group, most separately signed with different recording labels, allowing the members to pursue independent projects under their own stage names while continuing to produce together as the Wu-Tang Clan.

Even now, 21 years since the group’s inception, GZA has maintained his lyrical prowess and seminal flow. He has produced six studio albums, 14 singles and will be releasing his LP “Dark Matter” this year. The inspiration for the LP’s title is by no means tongue-and-cheek; the rapper announced in an interview with ExpressNightOut.com that while it’s taken him a long time to work on the album, it comes from “years of interest and reading, and from watching shows on networks like Discovery and National Geographic and from TED [Technology, Entertainment and Design] talks.” Research and planning for this LP even took him so far as to seek out professors and educators at Harvard, Cornell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to talk about, quite literally, quantum physics, the cosmos and dark matter itself.

GZA’s interest in science is also going beyond the recording studio and into actual classrooms. Last year, he teamed up with Columbia University Professor Christopher Emdin to launch a project that will use hip-hop to teach science in 10 New York City public schools. According to an article in the New York Times, Emdin will use rhymes to teach basic science concepts in the effort to engage students in learning, and “(they) will write rhymes in lieu of papers; the best rhymes, as judged by GZA, will appear on Rap Genius, beside the lyrics of popular hits.” Rap Genius is a popular hip-hop lyrics website, which is a self-proclaimed “hip-hop Wikipedia.”

However, the Genius also announced in 2010 that he would be releasing a new album, “Liquid Swords II: Return of the Shadowboxer,” though its forthcoming release has still yet to be officially announced. While some may be dismayed at such a long stint in waiting for its final release, fans can certainly take solace in knowing that this sequel to “Liquid Swords” is being produced by Wu-Tang leader RZA.

Ratking, The Professors and Roc Foxx will also perform Wednesday. With GZA headlining, this show is bound to bring more than words from the Genius. Tickets in advance are $20 and at the door are $23. The show starts at 9 p.m.

Emily Felder can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

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