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"Words from The Genius" came out in 1991 as the début album from the titular rapper (known later as GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan). The first of all of the members in the crew to put out any material, this one has The Genius giving an early indication of where he was heading. The then-Cold Chillin' signee and puts out a release under the guidance of beats from Easy Mo Bee, Patrick Harvey and The RZA. With no features whatsoever, it may not have received the same critical reception as "Liquid Swords", but provides a glimpse of the potential of the artist long before he was capable of coming up with a classic such as his follow-up 1995 release.
With the dark Mafioso style of later Wu-Tang releases what's expected of any of the members; it's bound to be a surprise to find this album begin with the very typical New Jack Swing song in the form of "Come Do Me". As a newcomer with no expectations at the time, it sits as a very fun cut and so would fit right in with what else was going on in '91. Of course, people who got into his through The Clan are bound to be disappointed, but it seems to do the job as a fresh and lively song in the same sort of style which was heard from the likes of Father MC, and others at the R&B end - Bell Biv DeVoe, Guy, Jodeci et al.
The beats on the album may not have the same griminess that other RZA-made cuts from 1993 and onwards had, but here Easy Mo Bee and the others involved still come out with a clear underground approach to ensure that he won't regret this in the same way that RZA must from his Prince Rakeem phase. I felt that this was key in making the record run smoothly, and it seemed to pay off for him.
What's done through the album is really all very conventional and of-the-time. Wu-Tang may have completely flipped the script when they got into it, but here it's all standard stuff. It isn't to say that it lacks quality - it's clearly a strong release, but its themes aren't really ever original. "Phony As Ya Wanna Be" and "True Fresh MC" are merely extensions of each other with the well-practiced boastful rhyming and this is just carried through the rest of the album. We do get glimpses of his future though through the titular recording and the Fiver Percenter rhyme topics, and so he does attempt to set himself apart from the rest of the pack, but just not to the same degree as was capable when part of the legendary nine-man crew.
The rhymes on the release are generally just the same sort of things heard from Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap and Rakim here and so it's nothing all that new or special. As this is the case, it's does lack originality and would have been criticised at the time for being no different to many other East Coasters at the time. In spite of this, every single cut holds up an extremely high standard and so it makes it difficult to complain all that much - especially since this sold most significantly on re-releases because of his later fame (and so was taken out of context). All of the rappers he was inspired by may have been known for jumping on Breakbeats, but as this had fallen out style by this time none of this is found here and this seemed to make much of it sound samey and monotonous, and so is another thing to bear in mind. He does try to change things up through the rhymes though and so comes in with engaging and humourous joints like "Stay Out of Bars" to lighten it up.
Overall, this is a recommended album from The Genius. It's expected the Wu-Tang fans look back to see what else he had done prior to his more well-documented years. Here he shows that it's something worth looking out for. What he brings here may sound quite average when compared to his contemporaries, but you could argue that its more down to the fact that he's forcing a much more mainstream sound out and so its restricting his capabilities for this specific album.
1. "Come Do Me" **Five Stars**
2. "Phony As Ya Wanna Be" **Five Stars**
3. "True Fresh MC" **Five Stars**
4. "The Genius Is Slammin'" **Five Stars**
5. "Words From The Genius" **Five Stars**
6. "Who's Your Rhymin' Hero" **Five Stars**
7. "Those Were The Days" **Four Stars**
8. "Life of a Drug Dealer" **Five Stars**
9. "Stop the Nonsense" **Four Stars**
10. "Drama" **Four Stars**
11. "Stay Out of Bars" **Four Stars**
12. "What Silly Girls are Made of" **Three Stars**
13. "Superfreak" **Four Stars**
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Come Do Me
2 Phony As You Wanna Be
3 True Fresh M.C.
4 Genius Is Slammin'
5 Words From The Genius
6 Who's Your Rhymin' Hero
7 Feel The Pain
8 Those Were The Days
9 Life Of A Drug Dealer
10 Stop The Nonsense
11 Living Foul
13 Stay Out Of Bars
14 What Are Silly Girls Made Of
16 Pass The Bone
17 Words From A Genius