REVOLT TV presents "The Produce Section," a column where we put the spotlight on the men and women behind the beats we love so much and their contributions to the culture as a whole. From profiling and interviewing the hottest producers of today to acknowledging the greatest producers of all-time and delving deep into their discographies, "The Produce Section" is the hub where beats, rhymes and life connect.
Producers have long been the backbone of rap music, providing emcees and rappers alike with the sonic backdrops over which they bare their souls and share their stories. Rap artists may get much of the fanfare and are front and center. However, without the producer toiling away behind the scenes, crafting the instrumentals; the lyrics would be reduced to spoken word and hip hop would be nonexistent as we know it.
In this edition of "The Produce Section," we cover legendary producer RZA, who helped usher in a new era for east coast hip hop as the brainchild behind seminal rap group Wu-Tang Clan. A native of Brooklyn, New York -- who initially had a failed record deal with Tommy Boy Records -- RZA took refuge in Staten Island. He would assemble a crew of MCs out of Brooklyn and Staten Island that would become the hip hop group. An avid fan of Kung-Fu films, RZA would flip samples from these flicks into some of the greatest rap anthems of the '90s. As the chief boardsman behind Wu-Tang Clan's first two albums -- 1993's Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers and 1997's Wu-Tang Forever -- as well as the first wave of solo albums from members of the crew, RZA is responsible for a countless amount of classics. While he's not as active behind the boards as he was during his heyday, RZA is still sought out for his mastery of the sonic template, making him a living legend within the culture.
In our latest installment of our series, we celebrate and highlight 11 of the RZA's most iconic beats of the Wu-Tang era that define his excellence behind the boards.
1. "Bring the Pain"
RZA does work with "I'm Your Mechanical Man" by Jerry Butler, while building the beat for this brooding selection. Rugged with an undercurrent of soul to smooth out the proceedings, this landmark single is among the songs from Meth's Tical LP that left a lasting impression with beat junkies.
2. "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin To Fuck With"
Biz Markie's timeless track "Nobody Beats the Biz" gets revamped by RZA for this boisterous salvo from Wu-Tang Clan's seminal debut. Bolstered by a sample of "Theme From Underdog," and additional drums from Joe Tex's "Papa Was Too," this soundscape provided the inspiration for the Wu's rallying cry, and proved RZA's production skills were nothing to fuck with.
3. "Shimmy Shimmy Ya"
Drums from The Emotions' "I Like It" get lifted for this classic from Ol' Dirty Bastard's solo debut. Powered by frantic piano keys, this beat is a lighthearted composition and a departure from RZA's more terse offerings, making it a true anomaly in his stash of hits.
4. "Incarcerated Scarfaces"
When listing the hardest instrumentals of the mid '90s, it would be criminal to leave this gem out of the conversation. Built around drums from "You're Getting a Little Too Smart" by Detroit Emeralds, a sound affect from Koko Taylor's 1966 release "Wang Dang Doodle," and dialogue from The Killer; this beat is more gruesome than anything RZA's ever laid his hands on.
5. "Ice Cream"
"A Time for Love" by Earl Klugh and "The Breakdown (Part II)" by Rufus Thomas get picked a part for this ode to beautiful around the way girls of all flavors. Comprised of drum kicks, acoustic guitar licks, and screeching wails; this jam is one of the definitive backdrops of 1995 and a key composition in the RZA's catalog.
6. "Daytona 500"
RZA loops up "Nautilus" by Bob James for this standout selection from Ghostface Killah's solo debut. Pairing the sample with drums and scratches of "Da Mystery of Chessboxin" and "Incarcerated Scarfaces," RZA concocts an infectious fan-favorite in his arsenal of beats.
7. "You're All I Need"
RZA went into full beast mode when cooking up the backdrop for what many hail as rap's greatest duet of all-time. Employing grimy drums, piercing synths, and guitar riffs; the leader of the Wu comes through with the equivalent of audio freebase with this production.
When it was time for Wu-Tang Clan to make their return as a full-unit for their sophomore album, the stakes were high and the group was expected to make a big splash. RZA ensured as much, turning in one of the greatest rap beats of all-time with this creation. The track -- which includes samples of "Just Found Me" by The Rance Allen Group and "To the Garden of the Temple" scene from the Duel to the Death score -- captures RZA at his zenith.
9. "All That I Got Is You"
Dialogue from the 1974 film The Education of Sonny Carson is used to set the mood for this poignant open letter from Ghostface Killah's Iron Man album. In addition to the exchange between Sonny and an incarcerated youth, RZA flips "Maybe Tomorrow" by The Jackson 5. This crafts a grand soundscape that tugs at heartstrings.
In 1993, Wu-Tang Clan unleashed this masterpiece of a record dedicated to enterprising hustlers who survived urban strife. Here, RZA chops up "As Long as I've Got You" by The Charmels; and jacks the sample for its haunting wails, horns and additional elements.
11. "4th Chamber"
Wu-Tang Clan member GZA put forth an ingenious performance on this cut from his debut album, Liquid Swords. Co-starring Ghostface Killah, Killah Priest and RZA; the producer draws from a myriad of oldies. He also chops up electric guitar riffs and pairs them with sturdy percussion.
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