Today in Hip Hop History: August 22, 1966
Gary Grice, aka GZA the Genius, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1966. GZA is most known for being a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan in 1992. He is also the oldest member and the first within the group to sign a record deal.
GZA began by playing block parties in the early 70’s, and eventually started a three man hip hop group, titled FOI: Force of the Imperial Master, with his cousins, who would later become known as RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard. They would all switch off DJing and rapping in various local shows around Brooklyn and Staten Island.
After co-founding the Wu-Tang Clan of nine original members, GZA shined on their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). He featured on the songs “Bring da Ruckus”, “Shame on a Nigga”, “Clan in da Front”, “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber” and “Protect Ya Neck”.
GZA’s sophomore solo record Liquid Swords (1995) was produced entirely by RZA and released by Geffen Records; the album was met with critical and commercial acclaim, and remains a classic solo Wu project in addition to an overall ingenuous hip hop piece. In 1998, The Source Magazine selected the album as one of the 100 Best Rap Albums of all time.
Additionally, an analysis of GZA’s lyrics found that he has the second largest vocabulary in hip hop music, behind Aesop Rock, in a sample of 75 rappers. He is one of the more known Wu-Tang members due to his solo success and integral contribution to the Wu.