RZA - Afro Samurai: The Resurrection OST
Robert Diggs AKA Bobby Digital AKA Rzarector AKA The Abbott AKA RZA. As the founder of hip hops first global institution the Wu-Tang clan, RZA has always been a busy man. Just how busy is partly explained by the aforementioned series of pseudonyms that he has recorded or been known under. It is pretty much a given that RZA will go down as one of the most prolific and talented hip hop producers of his or any generation; the first Wu-Tang Clan album is widely regarded not only as a breakthrough work but also a bona fide classic. Determined to expand his work output RZA produced the soundtracks for Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Kill Bill’ movies to stunning effect, and it’s the combination of these two elements that we find ourselves at with ‘Afro Samurai: The Resurrection OST’.
‘The Resurrection’ isn’t by any means a RZA solo album, that is yet to come in the mouth watering form of ‘The Cure’ scheduled for release sometime around the end of the year. What we have here is the soundtrack for a anime style movie that is released on DVD in the states next month before hitting the UK shores shortly after. ‘Afro Samurai’ was first aired in 2007 both as a series and successful movie featuring, as you may guess, an Afro Samurai swinging swords and generally indulging in ninja related shenanigans. The sequel ‘The Resurrection’ is a much bigger affair altogether, with characters voiced by Samuel L Jackson, Lucy Liu and Mark Hamill of Luke Skywalker fame, it is to spawn video games, toys and all manner of spin offs in the coming months.
The RZA’s production is the first thing to stand out; inventive samples and snippets of movie dialogue lay side by side with tearing bass lines and crunching beats. As expected, there is a whole host of guest rappers on display here, clearly chosen carefully for each track to complement its sound. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah and Killa Priest represent the Wu-Tang stable with the likes of Rugged Monk, 9th Prince, Rah Digga and Kool G Rap also featured. A surprise lays in the guest appearance of none other than Sly Stone who also voices a character for the movie.
The style of production ranges from track to track. ‘Whar’ bubbles along like an outtake from The Gravediggaz first album and for me is the standout track with Ghostface Killah delivering a verse that is up there with some of his best. ‘Bloody Days Bloody Nights’ borrows synth key stabs from the ‘Scarface’ soundtrack whilst ‘Bloody Samurai’ would have been at home in either of the ‘Kill Bill’ soundtracks. The stomping beats of ‘You Already Know’ are reminiscent of a tougher New York sound and is full of the sort of production 50 cent would be right at home on. The mellower sounds of the Wu-Tang Clan surface on ‘Yellow Jackets’ with minimal beats leaving a foundation for a simple guitar refrain to run throughout.
Although it is, I find it difficult to just view this as a soundtrack. They are normally tedious affairs that I find hard work unless you have a particular love of the film that it is scored for. ‘The Resurrection’ however doesn’t subscribe to that theory, it can be listened to as a stand alone album, no knowledge of the film needed, perfect! As a hip hop fan it’s rewarding to simply sit back and listen to it at that level.
Fans of the Wu-Tang Clan or any of RZA’s respective projects will find plenty here to like, perhaps even parts to love. At 17 tracks it is perhaps a little long and could benefit from a one or two track cull; but as with most OST’s I appreciate each track probably relates to a key sequence in the movie. That grievance aside I found a lot of time for ‘The Resurrection’ and I for one am looking forward to seeing a cartoon ninja with an afro swing his sword in the forthcoming movie.