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Afro Samurai (Soundtrack from the TV Series)

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Album Review

The soundtrack to the anime series Afro Samurai is executive produced and, for the most part, also produced by the RZA, the ideal option to apply hip-hop to Japanese animation. The RZA has always been known for his deep admiration of the martial arts, and he knocked his first scoring opportunity — Ghost Dog, which is best heard on the JVC Japan edition — out of the park. With credits for Kill Bill and Blade Trinity also under his belt, he smoothly transitions into Afro Samurai, composing a hard-hitting intro, several incidental pieces, and a handful of MC-led tracks, with brief appearances from the likes of Big Daddy Kane, GZA, Talib Kweli, Suga Bang, and himself. On Ghost Dog, he worked a sparse, gritty gracefulness; here, the feel is more epic, sleek, and turbulent, with dialogue (including plenty from Samuel L. Jackson as Afro, the protagonist in search of avenging his father's killers) laid over a generous amount of the score material. A pair of nearly torrid, reverb-heavy slow jams come from R&B duo Stone Mecca, who sound somewhat contemporary while owing much to Michael Henderson's and Prince's steamiest falsetto ballads (and that's no gripe). Another outside R&B cut, produced by M1 and featuring vocalist Maurice, is too pleasant and clean-cut to really fit into the flow of the program. As a bonus, or an enticement for RZA fans who might feel skeptical about a project not wholly reliant on RZA and rhymes, four tracks from a future Bobby Digital album are added. [A clean edition was also released.]


Born: 05 July 1969 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Wu-Tang Clan's chief producer, the RZA (aka the Abbott, Prince Rakeem, the Rzarector, Bobby Steels, and Bobby Digital) was born Robert Diggs. He first surfaced in the early '90s as a member of the rap unit All in Together Now, a group that also featured fellow Wu-Tang members the Genius (aka GZA) and Ol' Dirty Bastard. Following All in Together Now's dissolution, he signed to Tommy Boy under the name Prince Rakeem, issuing the 1991 EP Ooh I Love You Rakeem before joining the Wu-Tang; the group's...
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