bill bodkin looks at the kung fu soundtrack…
When was the last a movie soundtrack actually mattered?
For argument’s sake let’s throw out the soundtracks to movie musicals — the music and songs are what’s driving the entire film so obviously the soundtrack is important.
But think about it — remember when singles, which used to chart on the billboards, used to be attached to films? Do we need to remind you of the Titanic soundtrack? or any Elton John written Disney score? Or when soundtracks were actually complete records that stood on there own — like the groundbreaking rap-metal fusion album that scored the 90s thriller Judgment Night or the sublime ode to indie rock that was the Garden State soundtrack?
And that’s what makes The Man With The Iron Fists soundtrack so damn good — it’s a collection of really strong songs that bolster the concept of the kung fu homage that the Wu Tang Clan’s RZA has created along with Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth.
The best parts of the album, not surprisingly, are the efforts from the Wu Tang Clan themselves. Whether it be the groups “Rivers of Blood” or Method Man’s “Built for This,” this unit, who came together over their love of grind house kung fu flicks, bring their A-game to the album. This was the stuff they were born to rap about and they deliver high-energy rhymes that will make even the staunchest of rap critics bop their head.
The groove found on the Wu Tang tracks are ones that are littered throughout the soundtrack. This album subscribes to an old school methodology when it comes creating beats — they use samples from records from the Stax Records vault, which provide a more genuine bounce, a more musical flow than any of today’s synth-ed out, electro-charged pseudo-disco/quasi-dubstep club banger beats rappers are using today. The actual strum of a stand up bass, the actual crash of a high hat, the fat sound of a brass section add not only an infectious rhythm, but also bolster the throwback nature of RZA’s homage to his childhood movies.
The other stand-out track is RZA’s collaboration with indie rock supermachine turned rock ‘n’ roll heroes, The Black Keys. Having teamed up before on the Keys’ Blakrok album some years ago, the trio have reunited for “The Baddest Man Alive.” This fuzzy, edgy and ultimately badass track is the perfect jump-off for the entire record — setting the tone for what a listener can expect from this record — a fun, fat sound that paints vivid pictures of wild kung fu fights in dojos and village streets.
Now there are a few spots on the soundtrack that are a bit misplaced. Kanye West’s “White Dress” and Whiz Khalifa’s “I Go Hard” are little too modern for this record. They seem to have been place here for name recognition for the mainstream fan as their usage of auto-tune and more current beat techniques are just glaring not in synch with the rest of the soundtrack.
Regardless of these two tracks, the soundtrack to The Man With The Iron Fists is a must-own for hip-hop and rap fans who really dig either the Wu Tang Clan or that classic jazz-based street sound.