What Cartoon Theme Did RZA Sample?

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

On this week’s episode of Salute the Sample, LL COOL J, Greg Nice, and DJ Z-Trip break down the origin of some of Hip-Hop’s most beloved samples. The trio travels down another segment of the sample train, this time focusing on one of Wu Tang’s most iconic songs. On Enter the 36 Chambers, the RZA proved he was just as versatile as the crew of MCs that made up the group. Method Man spit rhymes about peanut butter, Dick Van Dyke, Looney Tunes characters, and White Owl blunts while ODB’s wails were made for the creaky mandolin sample on “Da Mystery of Chessboxin.” Each element of the album—from the lyrics to the beats—coalesced into a bulletproof melancholy whole through RZA’s trust in his instincts to fit these wily and charismatic rappers onto just the right weird and wonderful beats.

Sampling soul records wasn’t a new concept at the time, but RZA’s approach was murky and rain-damaged, a novel reflection of the dusty metropolis they called home. He created many of the album’s early instrumentals with a banged-up Ensoniq keyboard sampler he acquired in a trade with producer RNS of Staten Island band the UMCs, a hand-me-down that spoke to his DIY spirit and the gritty urban landscape his beats sought to evoke.

In addition to producing albums for the likes of Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, RZA founded his own record label, Soul Temple Records. He also acted in films such as American Gangster and Brick Mansions, and appeared on the TV series Derailed and Californication. In 2012, he directed his first feature film, The Man with the Iron Fists.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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