GZA vs. DJ Muggs The Grandmasters

This album from DJ Muggs, long-time producer of Cypress Hill, and GZA/Genius, the most lyrically profound member of the Wu-Tang Clan, is worthy of it’s chess themed title The Grandmasters. Both artists, who hold international and intergenerational hip-hop acclaim, have been cultivating their working relationship over the years on Muggs’ Soul Assassins compilations. The Grandmasters is their first full-length project together, where both veterans come together for the love of hip-hop performed at an advanced level. Muggs is probably the only producer outside of the Wu-Tang Clan who can accurately duplicate the moody abstract Wu-Tang sound. His dark beats on The Grandmasters provide a platform for GZA’s calm potent style of rap. At this point in his career, GZA’s flow, his choice of words, and the spaces between them, are completely controlled and meticulously selected. His lyrics move through Muggs’ music like dominant chess pieces; chess being the running subtext of this album. The main text of this album is GZA’s wise man commentary on hip-hop and the complex ruggedness of the streets. Since GZA and DJ Muggs are like rap rooks on a chess board, they don’t have to hurry for anybody, and the pace of this album is slow and concentrated giving the listener a chance to catch every word and layered beat. This album is not for those who enjoy more exaggerated rap, but for those who enjoy hip-hop that hits you when you listen to it, and then hits you again when you think about it later. (Worker Bee)