Reviews:: The Rza Presents Afro Samurai

The RZA is a rather interesting, rather talented guy. Set aside the fact that he was the mastermind behind one of the seminal groups in hip hop history, and you still have one of the most interesting dudes you'd ever meet. Not convinced Mr. Skeptic? How many dudes do you know from the projects of Staten Island who taught themselves to use production equipment and became one of the most revered producers hip hop has seen? How many dudes do you know that have been able to convince 8 other MC's to form a group, and not only be a success, but be the biggest group in the biz for a while? But it doesn't stop at being a rapper and producer, he's also a Martial Arts enthusiast and practitioner, as well as a chess expert. He's not only a walking Kung Fu movie expert, but he's also scored a few movies (Ghost Dog, Kill Bill). At the very least, if none of this impresses you, the fact that he got a special car and security suit built for the purposes of stopping crimes vigilante style has to earn some of your miserly respect.

Most times, if you mention you have a Soundtrack from a anime TV show about a black Samurai for me to listen to, I'm going to pass. However, if you tell me the Rza does all the beats, and it features Talib, Q-Tip and Big Daddy Kane well that's a little different. The Rza Presents Afro Samurai is in fact a soundtrack for the show of the same name currently being shown on Spike TV. It's an interesting listen. I haven't seen the show, so the samples sprinkled throughout are a little lost on me, and there are 3 slow jams which is kind of odd, but I'm assuming Afro Samurai cuts more than his opponents on the show and needs corresponding music. That being said, the instrumentals and hip hop jams on the album are solid.

Certified Samurai gets things going with a big, catchy beat that sounds like drums being scratched and some soul samples running in the background. Talib kills the opener, sounding better than I've heard him recently, while the unknown (to me at least) Lil Free holds his own. Just A lil Dude (Who Dat Ovah There) is notable due to the fact that it features Q-Tip - not the flossy, terrible Q-Tip of recent memory mind, but a Tip that sounds more like the ATCQ that any sane person prefers. Who Is Tha Man features the righteously named Reverend William Burk and has a catchy beat with nice spaghetti-western sounding feel to it. Cameo Afro features Kane and The Gza, and is probably enough reason on it's own to check for this album. Kane sounds great, he needs to get hooked up with Rza (or another solid producer) for a full album, hip hop needs Kane back in the building. Take Sword Pt.1 features Beretta 9 and the Rza ripping the mic like his vintage Wu days. The album finishes with some bonus Bobby Digital tracks which are decent, but I'm not sure we need a return of Bob Digi.

Afro Samurai isn't going to be the best hip hop album you hear this year, but as soundtracks go, it's pretty good. Plus it's nice to hear the Rza churning out some quality beats. So if you can't choose the sword, choose Afro Samurai.

mp3:: Cameo Afro (Feat. Big Daddy Kane, Gza & Suga Bang)

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