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Wu-Week: RZA’s best beats

Ten tracks that highlight the Chief Abbott’s genius

Actually, calling these the RZA’s “best” beats is a little less than accurate: Trying to narrow that list down to a reasonable number is just impossible. This is more a list of favorites -- some that are undeniably great, some that are under-appreciated gems -- that help to define RZA’s sound, and the effect is still the same. Together or apart, they show Robert Diggs to be worthy of his status as one of hip-hop’s best producers.
 

“C.R.E.A.M.”

Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu
The piano keys are haunting, the drums are weary, and the guitar adds a dreamy haze to the whole thing. It's the greatest beat RZA's ever made. 

 

“Ain't Nothin ta Fuck Wit”

Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu
When a friend first described Enter the Wu to me when I was ten, he told me it was "RZA and ODB bouncing the fuck off the walls for the whole album." This beat perfectly embodies that sentiment. The aggressiveness of the track comes through in the "tiger style" sample, wind-instrument melody, and high-hat that's reminiscent of a blade. It has that classic "Wu-Tang" sound.

 

“Criminology”

Raekwon
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

The heart of the beat is so dusty and drum heavy, and then the horns come in during the chorus and totally transform the track. And it just has a bounce to it that makes you nod your head.

“Reunited”

Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Forever

What makes the beat for “Reunited” so special is that RZA sounds like he's moving into new production territory with the overlapping, continuous violins and guitars. At the same time, he sticks to his dusty drums and samurai-flick inspirations. A perfect way to kick off Wu-Tang Forever.

 

“Run”

Ghostface Killah
The Pretty Toney Album

Every bit as chaotic as Ghost's rapping, it’s all about the horn. It sounds like it came straight from an old western film, and it’s the first thing that grabs you while listening. Then it loops, sounding like a record skipping back to the start. Then the funk-inspired drums slap you in the face and the ride cymbal hits you over the head.  

 

“4th Chamber”

Gza
Liquid Swords

Generally Enter the Wu gets all the credit for having the rawest sounds, but it’s possible that none of those tracks touch “4th Chamber” when it comes to griminess. Squealing synths, thrashy guitars, and a deliberate drum loop make this track the musical equivalent of the guy who will walk up to anyone and hit him in the face.
 

“Daytona 500”

Ghostface Killah
Ironman

The drums on this walk the fine line between bouncy and sloppy, and I can’t help but move from side to side every time I hear the beat. And the guitar sample is so sinister sounding. The real brilliance, however, is the use of scratching throughout the song. Never taking focus away from the beats and rhymes, it is reminiscent of deejays and emcees of old, and it brings the track to life.

“Samurai Showdown (Raise Your Sword)”

Ghost Dog soundtrack

This beat, with its simple, off-kilter organ sample, didn't grab me right away, but the melody was undeniable. With more listens I began to hear the way it played off the taiko-sounding drums, which are subtle and fantastic, and it soon made sense why Jim Jarmusch featured it so prominently in his film.

 

“School”

Masta Killa
No Said Date
Some call this RZA's greatest beat of the decade, and it's hard to argue. It has all the makings of a successful Wu beat: short repetitive samples, drums with pep, a requisite amount of griminess. But the foggy piano at the beginning makes you wonder what kind of drugs RZA was on while he made this track. It’s just that dark.

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RZA

These beats are great. I wish I could hear the songs here, though.

Anthony

Wu-Week has been awesome. It's nice to hear some really quality writing about the Clan.

I think "Reunited" is my favorite RZA beat to date ... that and "Impossible" are the two songs on Forever I go back to the most.

Michael

We ran out of time. The article should've ran with audio. Sorry.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/daba/me-bermudajpg.jpg Daba

WU WEEK HAS BEEN AMAZING

Billy Boat Gruff

Visionz is an Inspectah Deck beat, do your homework retard

Dub

visionz is a deck beat im pretty positive...

aDSA

glad Samurai Showdown made it. one of the weirder and most striking RZA moments.

the beat on Verbal Intercourse always stuck in my head...that vocal sample of the lady saying something like "...but what if..."

Nat Weiner

How come when I ask for audio I'm lazy? I agree with Anthony, this would have been sweet with audio!

OJ

criminology rocks my face.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/mk78/avocado.gif mk78

MAN THEM WORDS SAY ALOT AND ARE INDEED CORRECT IN EVERY ASPECT. THE WRITER HAS A TALENT FOR HIS OWN CRAFT. BUT IF WE WERE ONLY ABLE TO LISTEN TO THESE GREAT HITS WHILE READING THE BLOGS,IT WOULD BE PRICELESS AND MAKE THIS PAGE ABOVE OTHERS. READING HOW GREAT THE RZA IS, IS ONE THING BUT COMBINING THE WRITERS WORD TO THE MUSIC FOR A DEEPER CONNECTION WOULD BE POETRY. TELLING BOUT IT IS F*CKD IF YOUR NOT ABLE TO HEAR THE MUSIC.

KROOKD TOOF

the best RZA beat in my opinion is no said date by far

Shawn

Best beat - A Day to God is 1,000 Years

Matt

Criminology is my ATF RZA beat but what about Triumph, I think that is ubiquitously in top 10's.

Kevin in T.O.

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