GZA/Genius - Beneath the Surface........
Another Hip Hop album up for review and yet again it is from a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. GZA presented us with Beneath The Surface back in 1999 and it was his third solo venture. After the success of his previous album Liquid Swords this one wasn't received as well but this may well have been due to the fact that RZA who usually takes the front seat with the production side of things wasn't involved as much with this album.
However being a true fan I wasn't taking anyone else's word for it and decided on forking out ans getting the album myself:
This small introduction to the album fits in well with the title of the CD as it has a rather space type feel to it with dramatic backing music and a mechanical sounding voice begins to tell us "As untold truths threaten out existence...". This gives way to a great baseline and what you think is going to lead on well into the next track as the music is really pumping however this is abruptly stopped and the next track begins on a total different beat. Shame
2.Amplified Sample - 3.31
The funk beat is prominent in this track and the whole feel of the song is more chilled that expected and in comparison to the last album from GZA, this one has a total different feel. The raps are however strong, laid down well with smooth sounds and a flowing mood. It focuses again on the space theme which is quite a different vibe to normal albums. The track does become somewhat repetitive towards the end and although a good rack is not one of the best.
3.Beneath The Surface - 4.29
The title track song and this is a really good one although the biggest factor is the rather large pause between this track and the last which because of the complete different bests is a must but I feel it would have had a much better star if it had a seamless link from the last track. The beat on this one is totally chilled and really appealing. There is a female vocalist who has a small section and this aspect of any hip hop song always works and for this track it is no different. " Scratch underneath the surface, where does your purpose lie? It seems our world is worthless like we're pawns beneath the sky. Change the race by reason, and ashes just the wind. The left is so we're breathing keep ourselves from giving in." All in all a really memorable, good track.
4.Skit #1 - 0.37
This small section of the album you here various different people talking and some of the things they are saying feel rather touching. "You no longer have to stand in front of me to feel me presence...." However at the end part you then hear a voice advertising a new mobile phone! Pretty funny but strange.
5.Skit #2 - 0.31
This skit is presented like a news broadcast stating that there is now a shoot to kill policy in force in New York. It doesn't overly seem to fit well in this section of the album and personally I don't get it or why its on the album.
6.Crash Your Crew - 3.08
This track varies quite a lot from the others prior to it. The beat is deeper and darker and at first I don't think I am going to like it as it feels far to messy for my liking but it does seem to even itself out a bit as the song progresses and gets into more of a likeable vibe. The raps are hard and strong and this maybe because we get a little bit of the RZA and Old Dirty and this seems to make for a more layered song.
7.Breaker, Breaker - 3.38
This has got to be my favourite track on the entire CD and I really feel that the violins setting down a continuous piece really makes it. The beat is simple but together with the strings and great raps it makes up a really good memorable song. "Breaker,Breaker 1 9, can you read me" A cool track.
8.High Price, Small Reward - 1.43
A small track which is a shame as it is actually pretty good but maybe the fact we are left wanting more makes it so good. The heavy beat teamed up with slick lyrics makes for great listening and Masta Killa really nails the second verse to bring the whole song together.
9.Hip Hop Fury - 3.45
This track again has a slightly diverted feel to it in comparison to the others but it does work and the loud, constant baseline really gets stuck in your head. This slightly overpowers the less loud lyrics until Dreddy Kruger comes in a lays down the fourth and final verse. This final verse seems to fit the most with the sound of the track and is the best part of the song in my opinion. However the song is a good one.
10.Skit #3 - 0.47
Another strange advert type skit here which I think I must be missing something as it really doesn't fit with anything on the album. It doesn't sound anything other than a television or radio advert and I am not getting it!
11.1112 - 4.19
The beat we have with this I really like, as with the whole thing really. RZA produced this song and you can really get that feel from the track as a whole. Again we here Killa Priest and his verse has got to be the best although the following one is done by Njeri Earth who I haven't heard of before but has worked with the Wu on other occasions. The track is all right but feels a little like background music and for that reason is not one of the best on the album.
12.Skit #4 - 0.45
For this skit we hear childlike nursery rhyme music which is soft and subtle. Overplaying this is a child talking about guns and how many are sold in America each day. "Don't let guns destroy our children's lives"
13.Victim - 4.05
This track is a good one and a tranquil guitar rift in the background with a good beat makes for a great place to be. To top it off the lyrics are well put together and laid down with both the GZA and Njeri Earth working together on different verses which flow nicely with the catchy chorus"Just another victim of the ghetto" which really gets stuck in your head. This track really had a classic feel to it overall and one I really like.
14.Publicity - 2.38
Violins features from start to finish in this one and this works exceptionally well with the space type feel beat and lyrics which accompany it. The GZA has a very nice gravelly tone in this one and projects far better than any other track on the album. The length of the track is a good one as again it leaves you wanting more.
15.Feel Like An Enemy - 3.12
A harder track than the last which is filled with passion and feeling. The beat is raw and works well with the smooth raps and superb lyrics which are easy to follow and flow well. The space feel does again show itself with the track so it fits well in the album but overall the track is forgettable but listenable.
16.Stringplay (Like This, Like That) - 3.18
A nice bouncy track that Method Man makes an appearance in both the second verse and the chorus which as Method Man has got to be my favourite artist makes for probably one of the best tracks on the album. The beats are good and lyrics all mesh well.
17.Mic Trippin - 2.59
This one has quite a similar feel to it as the title track Beneath The Surface as the beat sounds just like it and the main difference is the chorus which is all GZA in this one. For me it sounds too a like but not as good and I seem to be waiting for the other tracks chorus to kick in but the more monotonous feel of this track continues.
18.Outro - 1.32
With the same music as the intro we get a different rap but the same feel yet again and I feel something else could have been done to bring the album to a close rather than this track. Overall okay as the beat is good but the raps are not the best.
I think this album is a good one although not great. I still have the HMV price label on it and I paid £16.49pence! Which is a crazy price and I wouldn't dream of spending that much on any CD nowadays and looking at it now I feel it was well over priced and not really worth this sort of money. It does have a few good tunes on though and I think worth a listen and getting if you can find it really cheap.
I think a fair score of a 3 out of 5 star rating and a slight recommendation.
Many thanks for taking the time to read
I do hope that this has been of some help/interest to you.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Amplified Sample
3 Beneath The Surface
4 Skit 1
5 Skit 2
6 Crash Your Crew
7 Breaker Breaker
8 High Price Small Reward
9 Hip Hop Fury
10 Skit 3
12 Skit 4
15 Feel Like An Enemy
16 Stringplay (Like Dis/like Dat)
17 Mic Trippin'