After filling my belly with an uninspired, very average attempt at Korean fried chicken at ‘The Fry’ on Bloor of Koreatown, I received a message from a good friend who works at the University of Toronto. Vice Canada and Fido Mobile had an event setup called ‘Extra Credit’ and had invited hip-hop legend GZA to come speak to the kids with a ‘how to make it in life’ sort of career talk. The fried chicken hadn’t really settled in completely and I was feeling mad itis, so instead I was in contemplation about passing out in my bed at 7 pm in the bare evening. But as a struggling artist, I thought maybe, just maybe the one that they call ‘the Genius’ can deliver on an inspiration that I much needed in my life. So I grabbed my trusty buddy, the Nikon D3s from my coat hanger, and huffed and puffed my way to Innis College to meet the wise man.
GZA receives praises from kids that weren’t even born when Liquid Swords dropped.
Half-sweating, I got to the door where there was a black SUV with big bodyguard-looking dudes standing around. I tried getting in, but the man stationed by the door told me to go all the way around the building. ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘Vice and Fido got an irrelevant 50 year old rapper bodyguards and a sweet black SUV!’ -Now to explain my thought: I’m a realist when dealing with artists or any other prominent figures, whether I look up to them or not. GZA along with Method Man and Ghostface Killah were my favourite Wu’s growing up, and Liquid Swords is probably one of the most impressive albums I had ever experienced in my teenage days. However, like mentioned above, I’m a fucking realist. As much as I respect his skills as an emcee, he is of no relevance to the music industry at this time. A handful of rappers nowadays will cite him as an influence but the average listener today will not get out of their way to see him perform or bump his tracks. It’s like when I copped the 2005 Geto Boys album ‘The Foundation’ thinking that maybe they could make a comeback, and although I liked it, it was a meaningless attempt. GZA was once a great artist and old heads like myself will still drop by a concert or two to check him out live, but the reality is that he is 50 years old now and is diminishing from the music scene. Just being real.
Uninspired. Just like the Fry on Bloor.
Anyway, I arrive to the venue and I found myself a seat that said ‘Reserved for Vice’ in the second row which I peeled off to sit because the first row was all taken. My buddy came by to meet me so he took the seat next to mine that was also reserved for Vice. My friend and I met in high school in grade 8 and became great friends since we both loved hip-hop and video games, so we were dead excited to see an old and wise idol that we once would put in our top 5 list. It took around 30 minutes for the actual talk to commence which pissed us off because we are becoming old men and our tolerance for patience has breached a threshold. While listening to my friend rant about how he should’ve brought his laptop over so he could get work done, a white dude with a slight beer belly, probably in the same age group as us, came up to speak. I forgot who he was but he organized the event I think. And shortly after what do you know, our man GZA came in and sat down like 2 feet across from us! The fan boy in me came out and I thought to myself that this was really cool and that I made the right decision not to pass out at 7 pm in the evening. I definitely wasn’t the only one. There were a bunch of 20 year old kids wearing their Wu gear gazing at him like they met the Savior.
Terrible handshake grip; way too strong. Come on, lady.
The interview was bullshit. You can see for yourself at Vice.ca or something I don’t know. They live streamed it to Facebook, so I’m assuming that you can view it on their site. To sum it up, you can take my word that it had terrible chemistry between GZA and the interviewer, and a cringing audience Q&A session. GZA didn’t look comfortable. His mic for the longest time was scratching against his chin making horrid noises. A 20 year old girl came out to say that she listens to ‘Liquid Swords’ every day and cannot function her day without it. Okay, that last bit was me just being a music snob, but really, she’s on some hipster shit and her question to GZA was dumb, too. GZA also gave out the most generic, uninspired answers. When asked about a chess problem this kid was having (one of many dumb questions), GZA simply said ‘get a book’. At least ask the kid which piece he was having trouble countering, and give out examples from your personal experience! GZA, you’re supposed to be an avid chess player! Inspire us with your knowledge and experience then relate it to real life examples on how to overcome similar obstacles! I thought the whole purpose of this talk was to inspire college students and to encourage them in succeeding in their respective fields. Apparently it was a just another hipster bullshit event that Vice had put together. But you know what GZA, you’re not wrong. Getting a book will do. Guess what though. I bought the Wu Manual twice because I had lost mine before, but if I lost it again, I won’t be buying it again. That’s right, your cousin RZA could’ve made that one extra sale but now he won’t. And thanks Vice for ruining my dude GZA for me. You suck.
Yeah, give him his hand back. GZA, I’ll see you when you come to London, though.