A sound track 'good enough to stand alone'
The last time director Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction" and "Inglourious Basterds") and Robert "RZA" Diggs (leader of the Wu-Tang Clan) worked together on a film, the result was "Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2" - and their epic soundtracks. This time around, Tarantino has taken a step back, mentoring RZA as he wrote, directed and acted in "The Man With The Iron Fists." Better yet? RZA also produced the soundtrack to the film; it's a fantastic mixtape of artists such as the Black Keys, Kanye West, Flatbush Zombies, Pusha T and several Wu-Tang members. It brings a perfect blend of R&B, hip-hop and neo-soul - the release is a perfect companion to his film. This is not a slap-together soundtrack, but a story in and of itself.
Oozing confidence with every line, the opening track, "The Baddest Man Alive," features the Black Keys accompanied by RZA. Keys' singer Dan Auerbach takes leaves simultaneously out of the Wu-Tang and Tarantino handbooks, stating he could "take the pitchfork from the devil; keep a super suit like I'm incredible." If there ever were an anthem to awesomeness, this first track is it.
Following "The Baddest Man Alive" is an equally assertive "Black Out," as rapped by hip-hop duo M.O.P., rapper Pharoahe Monch and Wu-Tang's Ghostface Killah. This track follows the theme of desperate fighting from the movie as M.O.P. chants "Give em the whole thing, Black out. Squeeze until it spring break n***a, Black out. You run out of bullets then swing n***a, Black out."
Perhaps one of the most anticipated tracks of the album is Kanye West's "White Dress," which discusses the possibility of marrying a certain Kardashian. More "Cruel Summer" than "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," Kanye goes production-light and rap-heavy. Though Kanye isn't generally the best rapper, he at least raps from the heart (albeit in a Yeezy style): "And told her, Even though I met you in a club in a tight dress, at first sight I could picture you in a white dress."
The album isn't all rap and hip-hop, however. Brooklyn's The Revelations with soul singer Tre Williams breathe life into the album with "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," and Francis Yip's "Green Is the Mountain" sounds like it could be just as at home in a 70s James Bond movie as "The Man With The Iron Fists." Toward the end of the film, "Your Good Thing (Is About to Come to an End)" is a musical throwback to 1966.
What's great about the soundtrack to "The Man With The Iron Fists" is that, regardless of how good the actual film is, the soundtrack is good enough to stand alone. Even those who are not fans of Wu-Tang will find the variety of genres and general funkiness rather pleasant. This may not be RZA's best work, but it's likely that it will be his most notable with modern audiences, and not without reason.
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