GZA (born Gary Grice) is best known for being a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Also known as “Genius,” his reputation among the group is the “spiritual head” as the eldest member and first to receive a solo record deal. Early on in his life, he developed a love for hip-hop by attending block parties as a kid, involving himself in the art of breakdance, graffiti, and DJing. He first began studying Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes in order to begin developing his wealth of writing knowledge. Musically, he turned to The Last Poets, The Isley Brothers, the Commodores and more as early influences, before he moving on to hip-hop and R&B. He formed a trio with his cousins (best known as RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard) called FOI: Force of the Imperial Master, and later All in Together—first inspiring them to challenge other emcees from various boroughs in New York City to battle. He left school in the 10th grade, but took his passion for science and lyricism with him. GZA released his first solo album, Words from the Genius, under the name The Genius in 1991. When the project didn’t sell well due to a lack of promotion, he asked to be released from his label Cold Chillin’ Records, joining Wu-Tang Clan a year later. With several high-profile appearances on the group’s debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), GZA then recorded his second solo album, Liquid Swords, which was produced and recorded entirely in RZA’s basement studio. The album is critically hailed as one of the best solo hip-hop releases to come out from Wu-Tang Clan’s talent pool, and was certified Platinum in 2015. GZA went on to release four more solo albums, as well as appeared on multiple projects with the Wu-Tang Clan, both collectively and on their individual efforts. Gza has guest lectured at a variety of colleges, including Harvard University, with a vested interest in improving science education. GZA also joined forces with Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin and the website Rap Genius on an initiative to help students learn about science through rap music.

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