Various Artists: The Man with the Iron Fists

man with the iron fists, rza, wu tang clanVarious Artists: The Man with the Iron Fists
RZA has always been ambitious. As the defacto leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, he helmed the group through the 90s doing all the production work on their seminal debut, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). He then was intricate in each of their solo careers producing Method Man‘s Tical, GZA‘s Liquid Swords, Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, Raekwon‘s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, and Ghostface Killah‘s Ironman. By the end of the 90s, RZA was ready to indulge his second love: film. He started off slow, scoring the soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai but over the last decade he has mixed soundtracks with doing bit parts in films like American Gangster, Repo Men, and Funny People. In 2012, he embarks on his most ambitious project yet, The Man with the Iron Fists. RZA writes, directs, stars, scores, and oversees the soundtrack of the film.

When RZA oversees the soundtrack of a film, there is one thing you can count on: there’s going to be a lot of Wu-Tang members on there. The Man with the Iron Fists is no exception. Not only does the soundtrack include two Wu-Tang Clan songs but it also features tracks from RZA, Ghostface, Method Man, Raekwon, and Inspectah Deck.

Just like the film itself, the soundtrack is highly conceptualized. It mostly features soul-tinged hip hop tracks like Kanye West“White Dress”–which is basically a three-minute freestyle over a piano-laden beat–or Talib Kweli‘s “Get Your Way (Sex as a Weapon),” a sultry but intelligent sex-themed rap with a chorus from RES. Those tracks are mixed with straight up soul, most notably the soundtrack highlight: The Revelations‘ cover of William Bell‘s “I Forgot To Be Your Lover.”

As with anything RZA does, there are Asian overtones to the soundtrack as well. Hong Kong Cantopop singer, Frances Yip contributes a song to the soundtrack and The Wu-Tang Clan and Kool G Rap collaboration “Rivers of Blood” is laced with Asian influence.

Essentially The Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack feels like those loosely associated Wu-Tang albums like Legendary Weapons or Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture. It has all the hallmarks of a Wu-Tang album but it just does not feature every member of the clan on every track. For a soundtrack, the album is impressively cohesive and focused; it is a true testament to RZA’s ability.
Rating: 8.4/10
MP3: Kanye West “White Dress”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl