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Meaning of ‘Guillotine’ by ‘Raekwon’ feat. Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, GZA

Released: 1995 • Features: Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, GZA

The gritty, complex tale woven by “Guillotine (Swordz)” by Raekwon sees Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, and GZA drop poetic tales of their experiences from the streets. At the intersection of effort and skill, each verse ebbs and flows as a grand tapestry of struggle, survival, and eventual triumph in the raw reality that is the core of hip-hop.

Inspectah Deck kicks off the song with a powerful metaphor, drawing parallels between their rap skills to the ancient martial art of Shaolin. This is a nod to their group, Wu-Tang Clan’s long-standing fascination with martial arts. When he says “Crush the amateurs who screamed to keep it real,” he’s throwing shade at rappers who claim authenticity but bring nothing new to the game. Deck’s punchline-heavy style shines through as he skillfully delivers his verse.

Up next is Ghostface Killah, whose colorful vernacular paints pictures that keep you on your toes. His flow is relentless, with intricate and sometimes abstract references like “Gorillas injected with strength of eighty midgets”. He’s implying that he and his crew pack a powerful punch with their rhymes. This verse also makes a clever nod to illicit activities, using them as metaphors for their dominance in the rap game.

Raekwon “The Chef” swoops in next, delivering his signature mafioso rap with finesse. “Projects filled with young men cause threats” – he’s describing their dangerous, poverty-ridden upbringing which forms the backdrop of their hardcore rap. With phrases like “Mike tyson of this rap shit, pullin out macs for fun,” he’s putting across his strength and notoriety in the hip-hop realm.

Embracing his moniker “The Genius,” GZA comes in last, delivering insightful and profound observations. His verse, filled with references to weaponry, seems to be a commentary on the violence integral to their environments while also serving as metaphors for his rap skills. Phrases like “Undaground and off air, the land of the lost” are subtle critiques of the mainstream rap industry and its ignorance of these harsh realities.

Ultimately, “Guillotine (Swordz)” is a visceral ride through the grit and grime of the Wu-Tang Clan’s shared experiences. Their combined verbal prowess cuts like a guillotine, delivering raw, unfiltered knowledge that demands the listener’s attention.

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