The Man with the Iron Fists Soundtrack: Good Enough But Uneasy

Nearly 20 years ago, when a group of rappers put together a love letter to kung fu movies and one of the definitive hip hop albums of the 90s, who’d have thought that the mastermind, the RZA, would be able to release an album using kung fu samples from his own movie? Talk about a dream come true! The RZA (a.k.a RZA, Rza, Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah, Bobby Digital, or simply by his given name, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs) was a modern day entrepreneur when he formed the Wu-Tang Clan in the early 90s. He put together a ten-year plan to help launch the careers of the nine member crew, along with an extended crew casually referred to as the Wu-Tang Killa Bees. Some of the more creative fruits of their collective labor include a revolutionary clothing line and acting in movies as diverse as Coffee and Cigarettes, Ghost Dog, and American Gangster, so the RZA’s transition to directing is therefore reasonable. We already have a spot-on review of the movie, so let’s focus on the music. Is it any good? More specifically, how does the music on this soundtrack fit into the movie?

“Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just the front cover to the [orchestral] film score,” said the Back Cover of the Soundtrack

The Wu-Tang Clan set the bar high with Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and admittedly, it is still the better album by far. That’s not to say the Man with the Iron Fists soundtrack is bad. In fact, there are a few good tracks and the whole thing is worth at least one listen if you are so inclined, so let’s cover the tracklists:

01. “The Baddest Man Alive” by the Black Keys and RZA [produced by the Black Keys and RZA]

02. “Black Out” by Ghostface Killah, M.O.P and Pharoahe Monch: [produced by Fizzy Womack]

03. “White Dress” by Kanye West [produced by Kanye West and RZA]

04. “I Forgot To Be Your Lover” by the Revelations featuring Tre Williams [produced by Bob Perry]

05. “Get Your Way (Sex as a Weapon)” by Idol Warship (Talib Kweli and RES) [produced by Frank Dukes and BadBadNotGood]

06. “Rivers of Blood” by the Wu-Tang Clan (Raekwon and Ghostface Killah) and Kool G. Rap [produced by Frank Dukes and BadBadNotGood]

07. “Built for This” by Method Man, Freddie Gibbs and StreetLife: [produced by Frank Dukes]

08. “The Archer” by Killa Sin [produced by Frank Dukes]

09. “Just Blowin’ In The Wind” by RZA and Flatbush Zombies [produced by The RZA]

10. “Chains” by Corrine Bailey Rae [produced by Steven James Brown and Corrine Bailey Rae]

11. “Tick, Tock” by Pusha T / Raekwon / Joell Ortiz [produced by Frank Dukes and S-1]

12. “Green Is The Mountain” by Francis Yip

13. “Six Directions of Boxing” by the Wu-Tang Clan [produced by Frank Dukes]

14. “Your Good Thing (Is About To Come To An End)” by Mable John [produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter]

15. “I Go Hard” Wiz Khalifa / Ghostface Killah / Boy Jones [produced by The RZA]

“Rivers of Blood” is a great audio summary of the movie. The song starts out with gentle singing from a child; a boy soprano vocalizing perhaps? There are hints of an Asian stringed instrument, a bass beat, and slight electronic noise for good measure in the background. Layered on top of this is the introductory narration to the movie, which is an odd choice for a song that appears in the middle of the soundtrack. After the sample, a hint of strings and an electronic drum introduce the Wu-Tang Clan. There are some clever and abstract raps here by Raekwon the Chef, Ghostface Killah, and as a special guest the formidable Kool G Rap, with U-God’s hook and some sound effect samples gluing the verses together to make it all work. Also, DEM HORNS.

“Just Blowin’ In The Wind” shows the RZA’s strengths. He knows how to scout talent with the Flatbush Zombies. “Chains” is soulful with a clever use of a tamberine to emulate chains rattling. “White Dress” sees Kanye West channeling Ol’ Dirty (RIP) somewhat effectively. Kanye is crazy, but he’s not ODB crazy.

Fifty Shades of Gray: Classical Album is not for the children.

To answer the titular question “how does the music on this soundtrack fit into the movie?” in one word: uneasily. The movie starts with one of the Wu-Tang Clan’s most seminal tracks, “Shame On A Nigga (IronFists Remix),” yet it’s completely absent from the album. What?! That’s like omitting “The Main Title (and First Victim)” from the Jaws Soundtrack. “Green Is The Mountain” is a nice Asian inspired song that the RZA even said “is a big, important song to the movie,” yet it’s not featured as prominently as token hit single “I Go Hard,” which just randomly appears in the middle of the movie, instead of over the credits where it maybe should have gone. Speaking of which, only about half of the songs on the album actually appeared in the movie, and the other half were completely random choices. Some cohesion between the RZA the director and the RZA the music director would have helped!

Overall, the Man with the Iron Fists is a great movie and soundtrack we have is good enough, but could have been better.

About Zombiepaper

My interests are very specific and sometimes esoteric: writing, videogames (EarthBound), movies (zombie, martial arts, and animated), music (listening and bass guitar), thrift stores, philosophy, and toys. Also, Cowabunga!

Posted on November 17, 2012, in Music, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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