GZA/Genius doesnt appear in public very much. He seldom interviews, and laces the liner notes of his albums with one-liners that thank all and none simultaneously. His concern has always been the spoken word and how to make it cut to the artery.
You wont dance to GZAs second album, Beyond the Surface. You wont throw up Ws, and you wont be inclined to shout out your side of town as though you just saw it crossing the street. Youll raise an eyebrow and listen to Beyond, because its that type of disc. It requires time, energy and patience to understand. Remember how Princes follow-up to Purple Rain, Around the World in A Day, was much more intriguing but much less well-received? Thats what Beyond is to GZAs first album. Its a students album, and most rap fans aint real students.
But if you are, boy, is this the album for you.
"I teach but still hold heat/cause some muthafuckas are broke beyond reach."
GZAs arrangements seem to follow the patterns of a chess match. He rarely uses a phrase twice on one album. On cuts such as "Publicity," he delves into the shadier sides of music industry hype machines, while rhyming in covert metaphors that require a strong ear. He also opens the door to many of Wu-Tang Clans upstart producers, amounting to a totally different sound than his debut.
GZAs sophomore project is a calculated triumph. If you listen and like it, you know the time. Each one teach one.