Today’s Sounds: The Man With the Iron Fists soundtrack

The soundtrack for RZA’s forthcoming directorial debut, The Man With the Iron Fists, a dub track by Peaking Lights and a video by Danny Brown


Various Artists, The Man With the Iron Fists soundtrack (Soul Temple)

Among my earliest displays of musical obsession was a childhood affinity for movie soundtracks, and I wasn’t the only kid into them at the time.

It makes sense, when you think about it. A variety of artists gave my childish attention span a reason to stick around, and the cross-branding of the movie in question made it an easy gift recommendation.

You know, “He likes Ghostbusters — get him the Ghostbusters tape!” “He liked La Bamba — get him the music!” “Darce looks like the chubby crewcut kid in Stand by Me! Let’s get him the album!” I walked around whistling a lotta doo-wop and American rock standards for an eight-year-old.

Even if half an OST was filled with bits from the score, which would otherwise have ranked as “boring music,” I’d feel it because I felt the movie.

The music to ’80s L.A. gang flick Colors was one of my earliest forays into rap, past the very few albums I had at my disposal, and introduced me to a wider net of rappers like Ice T, Rakim and Kool G Rap when radio wouldn’t touch them, and before PolyGram’s Rap Trax series touched a generation.

And when I was a teen, Tarantino injected retro cool to the form, while films like The Crow and Judgment Night went as far as commissioning original music by bands handpicked for their edge.

The RZA, who knows all and sees all, and who has composed and/or curated many fine film scores, will soon show viewers his perspective from behind the lens. But he couldn’t bring his first feature film to life without first letting us hear what it sounds like. And it sounds amazing.

Hip hop compilations can be marred by imbalance (hello, Cruel Summer), and “the hip hop soundtrack” traditionally points, shoots and runs at the first sign of a hit or a disaster.

The RZA, with a carpenter’s wisdom, puts a shutter on all that and has audible fun with it — not something one usually associates with his revered musical process or character.

At turns here playing to dusty cowboy flick sensibilities, re-interpolating movements from the Songbook of the Wu, and otherwise meeting the highest standards of creative discipline he sets forth for himself, RZA turns what could easily have just been a cool collection of beats and rappers into audio cinema.

High points include showstarter “The Baddest Man Alive,” wherein Mr. Diggs faces the Black Keys; the Pusha T/Joell Ortiz/Raekwon/Danny Brown-laced Frank Dukes production “Tick Tock; and Mable John’s cover of Lou Rawls’s “Your Good Thing (Is About to End).”

The entire affair is as seductive as the street life, but the only thing going to the morgue is whatever else you were obsessed with listening to before this (all Lamar albums notwithstanding).


Peaking Lights, “My Heart Dubs 4 U”

If you liked Lucifer by L.A.’s Peaking Lights (Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis) but felt it could have used more depth and space, you’ll be pleased to learn that Weird World/Mexican Summer will release Lucifer in Dub on Dec. 10. Here’s a preview.



Danny Brown, “WitIt”

Oh, Danny Brown. He may never make it into Canada, but here’s some consolation: director Bijoux Altamirano’s futuristic hedonistic rap spectacle

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