GZA @ The Knitting Factory (New York, NY)

In Hip-Hop conversation, classic and legendary are thrown around way too easily. However, there remain those songs, moments, artists, and albums that have a timeless stamp and deserve their accolades if not more. GZA’s Liquid Swords is just such an album and in acknowledgment of its devoted cult, the Wu’s Genius billed himself as performing the album at New York City’s Knitting Factory (12/14). Causing a head or two to scratch their heads as deeper album cuts like “4th Chamber” and “Gold” came first, he nonetheless set off the sing-a-long early—“Things ain’t coming fast enough/There is no cut that’s pure enough”—and the recitation and celebration began.

GZA continued to pull from Liquid Swords throughout while interspersing tracks from his and other Wu projects, most notably the slept-on Grandmasters collaboration with DJ Muggs. Without a casual fan in sight, the faithful either went line for line with the G-O-D or based on the feeling in the air, got a weed induced quiet and dug into the man’s verses, zoning out and taking in the big picture of what he had to say. Also, early in the set, GZA dissed 50 Cent by name, saying “The ni***’s got no lyrics.”

A definite stand alone moment was GZA rapping the entire “All In Together” a cappella, this being his ODB tribute from Grandmasters. Moving and detailed, it laid out ODB’s history right up until his last days and emitted genuine emotion, more so than “Life Changes” from 8 Diagrams and way beyond the requisite rap concert “Put two fingers in the air for 2pac, Biggie, and Aaliyah.” And of course the crowd and GZA and crew got most hyped for the Liquid Swords material, which kept coming strong.

GZA finished strong as Killah Priest did Liquid’s spiritual anthem “B.I.B.L.E.” and GZA did the crowd favorite “I Gotcha Back.” Some classic moments with legendary material definitely took place though and GZA showcased real upper echelon rhyme skills. He may have benefited had he actually performed Liquid Swords in its entirety but the tribute to his best work and arguably the Wu’s strongest solo platter came off dope nonetheless. The cult of Liquid Swords wouldn’t have it any other way.