Super-Producer Rza of Wu-Tang fame has been broadening his horizons for some time now, taking stints in acting, and producing a spectacular soundtrack for the Tarantino masterpiece Kill Bill. Rzaâ€™s latest musical project is a soundtrack for the upcoming SpikeTV anime cartoon Afro Samurai. Created by Takashi Okazaki and voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, Phil LaMar and Kelly Hu, the show is a fusion of Japanese Manga style animation with a dose of hip-hop style and sensibility (a la the Boondocks). Rza was the obvious choice to produce the soundtrack for the show, and he does not disappoint.
The soundtrack for Afro Samurai is a refreshing change of pace from the average hip-hop album. While most artists today seems to be content choosing overpowering beats that club their listeners over the head with the strength of a two ton gorilla, Rza chooses a more refined and tactical approach. Not unlike a feudal samurai, Rza employs tact and subtlety to create a unique-sounding album that does not alienate long-term Rza fans. The Rza signatures are all here: creative samples and instruments, kung-fu voiceovers, and unique sound effects. This is not to say that Rza hasnâ€™t grown. The record really does capture the essence of anime, while injecting some hip-hop flavor.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Afro Samurai is that it manages to cover so many musical bases (instrumentals, RnB, and nostalgic hip-hop infused with Asian influence) while still feeling as a coherent body of work. The guest appearances by the likes of Q-Tip, Talib Kweli and Big Daddy Kane arenâ€™t gimmicky and instead contribute to the feel of the album. For any Rza fan, Afro Samurai is a worthy fresh appetizer to the upcoming Wu-Tang album.