As the leader of the seminal Wu Tang Clan, a prolific producer and author, RZA is one of hip-hop's Renaissance men. But the enigmatic artist is now being sued over sampling theft allegations, and it's not the first time he's been hit with such a claim.
The sonic genius behind the gritty, kung fu-themed classic album Enter the 36 Chambers — as well as its predecessors Ten and Shaolin Temple — has been in the news lately for both his work with Kanye West and a new lawsuit brought on by Teichiku Entertainment, which claims that "Dark Fantasy" from Kanye's 2010 album 808s & Heartbreak contains an unauthorized sample from an old Japanese folk song called Gincyo Watadori performed by Meiko Kaji.
On this week's episode of Salute the Sample, LL COOL J, DJ Z-Trip and the crew break down the origins of some of hip-hop's most famous samples. Versatility is the theme here, as we find a Saturday morning cartoon theme that sneaks into The RZA's gritty anthem, "Shame on a Nigga."
When you listen to this track it doesn't sound like anything anyone has ever heard before - it's gritty and sparse, but at the same time layered like a symphony. People often criticize hip-hop producers for sampling, but they don't always realize that the piano could have come from an old jazz record, the horns from a funk record and that it takes a lot of skill to blend them into a new sonic tapestry.