RZA

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
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AllMusic Review by

For a movie steeped in hip-hop and an eastern philosophical aesthetic (an aesthetic largely informed by director Jim Jarmusch's collaboration with Wu Tang high priest and producer of the soundtrack, the RZA), the soundtrack itself is largely banal when detached from the visuals of the film. On the basis of the film's eerie, seamless score, one would expect a soundtrack that would underscore the film's shadowy mood and artistry. However, the RZA (or the label) stingily held back some of the musical gems from the film and the result is, on the whole, unsatisfying. The RZA, the consummate other-galaxy sound craftsman, appears to be suffering from an inspirational drought induced by his cinematic contributions musically and through his cameo in the film, relying heavily on recycled beats. The soundtrack is not a Wu project, it is a RZA project featuring Wu-affiliates and a fragmented Clan. A few of the compositions do break new ground and hit like only RZA's beats can. One of the more expressive cuts is Wu-songstress Tekeitha's "Walking Through the Darkness" backed by a lingering bassline and effortless guitar riff. Jeru the Damaja and Afu Ra's brief "East New York Stamp" is poignant with Afu Ra ripping the mic relentlessly. "Cakes," featuring Kool G. Rap along with the RZA; "Stay With Me" by Melodie and Twelve O'Clock; and the rag-tag Wu Tang Clan's "Fast Shadow" are the only other noteworthy cuts. Quotes included from the film, while relevant, are out of sequence seemingly. Overall, the soundtrack fails to deliver the goods. The minimalism of the film is not resonated by a soundtrack of dark, ponderous, and thought-provoking soundscapes but rather by glancing snapshots that almost muddle the arch-cool and bizarre nature of the film. In the end, the RZA's soundtrack amounts to only superficial speculation musically. The film gets an easy A, but the soundtrack barely makes the grade.

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