Illustration: @stayvers

The 36 Best GZA Songs, Ranked

The GZA, aka The Genius, enjoys rarified air within Wu-Tang lore. He was the first member of the Clan to record an album, Words From the Genius for Cold Chillin’ Records back in 1991. The problems he faced recording and releasing that album shaped the way Wu-Tang Clan would present themselves to record labels and how they would assert their own independence.

Now and eternally the Voltronic head of the Wu, GZA is the crew’s sharpest pure lyricist. He weaves complex imagery and intricate rhyme patterns and multi-faceted metaphors effortlessly. He’s also an underrated storyteller, able to weave meticulous narratives simultaneously wide in scope and narrow in focus. His 1995 album Liquid Swords is a contender for the all-time best Wu-Tang solo release, and the rest of his catalog is pretty underrated, especially this century’s Legend of the Liquid Sword (2002) and Pro Tools (2008). GZA remains one of the best all-around MCs to record hip hop music.

As part of this MASS APPEAL’s Wu-Tangsgiving Celebration, below are GZA’s 36 best solo cuts, meaning cuts from his solo albums, which may or not include other rappers, as well as solo cuts from soundtrack albums. This list, and MASS APPEAL’s other Wu-related lists that follow, were assembled with curatorial guidance by hip hop consigliere and esteemed Wu-Tang scholar, Bönz Malone.

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