Photography: Finn Reed / @finlayreed

GZA

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  • Nu Tribe
BamBamBam @ Invisible Wind Factory 13/4/19

The co-founder of the world’s most legendary hip hop crew, GZA aka The Genius, humbly graces the stage of Invisible Wind Factory on his worldwide Liquid Swords album tour.

It’s a gusty Saturday night. Hundreds of people are heading along Liverpool’s northern waterfront which stands in the epicentre of a development zone. A small army march towards the venue over what looks like a Fallout Wasteland map. Outside the venue, the bouncers rub together their gloved hands and we head inside. I get the vibe that the only fight going down tonight is between them and the whipping winds that revel in the Mersey’s unseasonable cold.

Bursting through the double doors the venue is already buzzing. Pink flashing and blue dangling fairy lights illuminate the tightly packed crowds. Occasionally a strobe light flashes over a familiar face, someone yells to a friend and a drink gets spilled. Liverpool’s boom bap collective NU TRIBE proceed to the stage decked out in colourful gear, dreads and hats. Heads turn and begin to bop to the eclectic sounds that flood through the crowd and spark an electric current of pure groove.

Nu Tribe depart and we begin to anticipate GZA’s arrival. During the wait DJ Symphony prescribes the crowd with a dose of well-deserved hip hop classics. Bangers from likes of Gangstarr, Big L, Nas are served up like a treat.

The crowd has swelled to capacity and we’re packed tightly together, arse to arse and cap to cap. without any real warning, GZA himself steps into the spotlight, locking eyes with his hardcore Scouse fans. It’s almost like he’s sat down with us as he engages the crowd in deep conversation. Eyes are truly transfixed as we drink down his introduction.

A harsh sample runs in with a violent force, kicking the audience into a hand-bopping, side-swaying dance. The silver-tongued MC delivers complex lyrical compositions; they instantly pounce on top of RZA’s raw beats, bringing the streets of Staten Island to Liverpool in a simple conjuring of the imagination.

The punchy beats are overpowered with glaring feedback from the basslines but it only adds to raw energy. The room has heated up quickly and as it hits GZA mid set, he strips his jacket to reveal a black tracksuit jacket with stripes. Liquid Swords’ title track emerges, crafted to perfection and sung through the vocal chords of a gritty street king. He engages us individually with call; the lyrics responsive and thought-provoking. The bassline tunes itself into my heartbeat and I begin spinning around in time with the giant disco ball installation above my head.

Towards the end of the set we’re treated to a few Wu-Tang classics, C.R.E.AM. and Mystery Of The Chessboxing. It’s a cheeky throwback for die-hard fans, leaving us on a high note. As we all leave together, there’s a sense of pride that once again we’ve housed a legend

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