GZA: Pro Tools

B+

GZA

Album: Pro Tools
Label: Babygrande
B+

GZA

Album: Pro Tools
Label: Babygrande

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Though nobody expects them to put up big numbers anymore, Ghostface Killah and GZA have proven to be two of Wu-Tang Clan's most resilient survivors. The two share a gift for dense crime narratives and clever wordplay, but otherwise are a study in contrasts. Ghostface raps like he's on the verge of a heart attack, or at least a crying jag. GZA, on the other hand, has a chilly monotone largely devoid of emotion. He's got an ice-water flow, a stylistic poker face that forces listeners to concentrate on his words and ideas instead of the man behind them. His albums are all about the stories, not the storyteller.

On his stellar new Pro Tools, GZA relies on production to convey emotion. The standout "Life Is A Movie" plays it cool yet emotional, with an edgy, disquieting beat, a chorus hearkening back to the nervous British New Wave of the 1980s, and appropriately cinematic verses from GZA and RZA. Concise and consistent, Pro Tools is so rich in detail that it takes a few listens just to soak everything in. At a brisk 44 minutes, GZA's cold-blooded sonic cinema invites and rewards repeat visits.

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