Artist: RZATitle: Afro Samurai – The SoundtrackRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Serge Fleury
For over a decade now the RZA has fascinated us with his unique production style. Whether it was Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ghostface’s Ironman, to GZA’s Liquid Swords, his signature sound was always front and center. While the Clan was on a sabbatical from group work, RZA found another avenue to get his music to the masses, scoring
soundtracks. With original music credits from theincluding Blade: Trinity
and Quentin Tarantinos Kill Bill series added to his resume, Bobby Boulders strikes paydirt again scoring all the music for Spike TV’s new animated show and the subsequent Afro Samurai – The Soundtrack (Koch).
Usually for sound tracks or compilation albums, the goal is to recruit the
biggest names at the time to maximize attention toward the project. But RZA
opts to enlist the services of veteran lyrical heavyweights and
relatively unknown, present day MC’s that are underrated. The album
starts off with “Certified Samurai” featuring Talib Kweli. The most
recognized activist in Hip-Hop shows his true skills as an MC, meshing with
RZA’s production perfectly with lines like, “Living by the code of the
Samurai/Dreams put on hold like operators standing by/What you rap with/Ya heart or ya weapon/Next question/What you strapped with/A glock or a message.”
Q-Tip jumps on “Just A Lil Dude (Who Dat Ovah There).” Still sounding as
polished as ever while he continues to make his rounds towards a comeback.
RZA incorporates plenty of instrumental interludes straight from the Afro Samuraie show where people actually
have an opportunity to hear his trademark sound without any rhyming over them. Other breaks in the album include the two R&B ballads, “Baby” by
Maurice and “Oh” by Stone Mecca.
Although these crooners are pretty new to the scene, they put up a solid
effort when called upon. The smooth operator himself, Big Daddy Kane comes out of seclusion and teaches these youngsters a lesson in lyricism on
“Cameo Afr” which also features The GZA. But the album wouldn’t be
complete without the RZA jumping on the mic himself. His Bobby Digital alter ego takes us to bed on “Insomnia.” One of the most complex rhyme
slayers in history, RZA’s lyrics sometimes manage to go over the heads of his listeners.
But just like Jamaican Dancehall music to a “yankee,” you may not always understand the terminology, yet it still sounds good when you are listening to it.