The Catalyst

GZA

GZA

Casual

Sun, May 4, 2014

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

The Catalyst

Santa Cruz, CA

$20 in advance / $24 at the door

Off Sale

This event is 16 and over

GZA
GZA
When it comes to thought provoking, street-bred raw lyricism, The Wu-Tang Clan's fountain of wisdom, GZA takes his job very seriously. The way he crafts his double-edged rhyme flow mirrors the skill and precise technique of one who works with fine ceramics. GZA's metaphoric and multi-layered lyrics are often touted by critics as his rap name implies; genius. Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in every borough of New York City, The GZA's workmanship can be found three albums deep with classics dating back to 1991 including the albums Words From The Genius, the gold-selling Liquid Swords and Beneath The Surface. Before his days of microphone notoriety, GZA found himself, during the early ages of rap music, traveling throughout New York City sharpening his rap skills in scattered rhyme battles. "I've studied rap in every borough," the GZA says proudly. "I've been rhyming before a lot of these cats out here were born. We've [Wu Tang Clan] always drank, ate and slept hip-hop. I love it." On his latest blockbuster album Legend Of The Liquid Sword, The GZA makes reference to his hip- hop foundation on the reflective "What We Die For." "I grew up around B-Boys, DJs, MCs, through rap, never thinking in ways of TV," the Genius raps. "It was strictly all about magnificent rhyme clout."

During GZA's travels, he encountered other rap veterans that recognized his promise and helped to nurture his talent. "I watched a lot of people come up that are big now," Genius says earnestly. "I used to make demo tapes with cats that rocked with Russell Simmons and people like that. The history goes so far back, I've always been really focused on writing dope rhymes."

The GZA's dream of perfection has been realized once again on his fourth album to date. Legend Of The Liquid Sword not only regains the powerful momentum started by the last three releases, it adds to the Genius' verbal legacy with uncompromising integrity. Heat-seeking darts like the introspective, "Auto Bio" where GZA breaks down the elements of his life that created the man he is and the crime thriller "Luminal."

What has always set The GZA apart from the ordinary is his ability to create complex images with simple context. In the same way it's said that a picture is worth a thousand words, Genius assembles his words to create thousands of vivid pictures. "I don't like to just be simple," he explains. "Even though some of my stuff can seem simple at times, I like to write in a way that when you listen to it over and over again, you hear something new and it requires you to think." Legend Of The Liquid Sword does just that. Whether the listener gets captured by the vocal acrobatics of Santi White (who has written songs for Res) on GZA's "Stay In Line" or the authentic old school soul production on the masterpiece "Animal Planet," Genius weaves satisfying brain food through his lyrics. In his phenomenally cerebral use of metaphors, The Genius flawlessly equates human city dwellers to animals in the jungle on "Animal Planet", which was produced by rhythm doctor Bink (who has produced heavyweight joints for Fat Joe, Nate Dogg, Mr. Cheeks and Faith Evans). With beats by fellow Wu Tang brother RZA, Jaz-O (Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt album), DJ Muggs (who has produced for Cypress Hill, Mobb Deep), Wu producer Mathematics (Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Sunz of Man), Arabian Knight and other sonic masterminds, GZA's talents come across even heavier. On the adrenaline raising Hip Hop call to arms, "Knock, Knock" (the album's shining debut single), The GZA asks on the chorus, "knock, knock, who the f* is banging at my door, is it abstract, commercial or hardcore?" In his signature way of ill rhyme construction, GZA further defines the parameters of what rap music should be.

Don't call GZA's comeback just a comeback, it's a return of an entirely revolutionary thought process. "When we did "Back In The Game" on the Wu-Tang album, I did a verse about gambling," he explains solidly. "I didn't want to be 'back in the game' or 'back on the block,' that's typical. I made it all metaphorical." It's those same metaphors that makes the Genius' liquid sword a living legend in it's own time
Casual
Casual
Jon Owens (born December 19, 1975), known by his stage name Casual, is an American rapper from Oakland, California and one of the founding members of the alternative hip hop collective Hieroglyphics. After his debut album Fear Itself garnered both critical and commercial success, Casual went on to become one of the most prominent and recognizable faces on the Hieroglyphics roster, releasing five full-length LPs over the span of his twelve year career. Owens has garnered a following amongst devoted hip hop fans, particularly in the Bay Area hip hop scene, largely due to his specialization in hardcore battle rhymes.
After high-profile appearances on Del tha Funky Homosapien and Souls of Mischief albums, Casual followed suit in 1994 with Fear Itself. The album was the second-highest charting album in Hieroglyphics' history. Casual followed a typical verse-chorus-verse structure but stood out with his ferocious but playful battle lyrics. Casual has been acclaimed for "wielding his metaphors and sinewy delivery with lethal grace"

After the release of Fear Itself, Casual (as well as fellow Hieroglyphics members Souls of Mischief) was dropped from Jive Records. Casaul documents the experience in the book, Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide: Volume 1: East Coast and West Coast:"
It came about from us getting dropped from major labels, and instead of folding and succumbing to defeat, we hit the ground running. We took what we had and ran with it, we landscaped and we built something. We had to be resourceful, creative, and clever to gain our niche but now...it's been 10 years since we've busted out independent."

In 1994, Casual was involved in a high profile battle with rapper Saafir. The beef originally started when Saafir appeared on Casual's debut album, and Casual did not appear on Saafir's. This ignited the infamous "Hiero vs Hobo Junction" battle, which involved some controversy when rumors surfaced that Saafir was using pre-written raps as opposed to Casual and Hieroglyphics expected freestyling. Despite this, it is regarded as an influential battle in underground hip-hop's history.

Casual has expressed, much like the rest of the Hieroglyphics crew the importance of competition in hip hop, stating "I think that MCing should be a competitive thing, almost like a sport. The only way an MC can keep polishing and sharpening his skills is to test them against the competition and the up and coming young bloods."

Casual contributed considerably to both Hieroglyphics albums 3rd Eye Vision (1998) and Full Circle (2003), and is typically found rapping on as well as producing tracks on almost all Hieroglyphics-related releases. While staying mostly on the underground scene and not achieving significant commercial success aside from his debut, Casual is widely respected as an MC, even appearing on the artwork for A Tribe Called Quest's album Midnight Marauders.
Venue Information:
The Catalyst
1011 Pacific Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
http://www.catalystclub.com/