GZA release a return to roots

Staten Island, New York’s Wu-Tang Clan was one of the most influential groups in hip-hop. The founding members continue to make music today, as GZA’s new album, Pro Tools, is straightforward East Coast hip-hop.

Pro Tools is a refreshing rehash of 1990s New York hip-hop; it’s a reminder of how rap started and how it was intended to be. The New York sound is heavily represented with raw rhymes and simple beats, rather than the Bad Boy Records brand of samples and style. Today’s hip-hop is full of emcees that buy into their own hype and seem to care more about what they are wearing than what they are saying.

GZA’s style is straight rap, no gimmicks needed. The album almost sounds like it is an underground record, rather than a release from one of the most well known emcees. Pro Tools has a sound from the streets, as every song sounds like it was made for a mix-tape, rather than a full-length album.

"0% Finance" is four minutes and 20 seconds of impressive, fast flow. The track never slows down as GZA raps constantly over a drumbeat that could easily be used in a rock song.

Rather than going for one big-name producer, GZA went another route using lesser-known people in charge of mixing. Wu Tang member RZA produces and appears on two tracks as well.

The first single "Paper Plate" has been a hit on the Internet for being a diss track aimed at 50 Cent and G-Unit. "Paper Plate" is a scathing attack on 50 Cent, which cleverly dissects 50 Cent’s songs and hype. GZA takes a jab at the 50 Cent song "Window Shopper," saying "You still window shop for lyrics / who shot ‘ya, you don’t have enough on your roster / You move like a fed, but talk like a mobster."

"Life is a Movie," which features RZA and Irfane Khan-Acito, sounds like a latter-day Wu-tang Clan song. "Groundbreaking" and "7 pounds" are standard GZA tracks. "Elastic Audio" is a bonus-track, which is a live performance from 2007’s show at The Parish in Austin.

GZA will perform at 8 p.m. tonight at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel St.

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