Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai(Epic/Razorsharp)

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Epic/Razorsharp)

Record Reviews

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai


Just as it's almost impossible to picture anyone but Forest Whitaker playing the placid, pigeon-raising hit man hero of Jim Jarmusch's meditative, hypnotic gangsta fable Ghost Dog, it's damn near inconceivable to imagine anyone but Wu-Tang abbot Robert "RZA" Diggs masterminding the film's equally compelling soundtrack. In fact, Ghost Dog is a chilling apotheosis of the Wu-Tang doctrine of fusing arcane Eastern philosophy with ruffneck street ethics. Even more impressively, RZA pulls it off using almost strictly the Wu's B squad, though Method Man and ODB do show up on "Fast Shadow." Opener "Strange Eyes" is classic RZA, with a loping beat, seriously funky guitar/organ loop, 12 O'Clock and Blueberry's spooky vocal line, and vividly agile narratives from the Sunz of Man. North Star lives up to his "moving more murder messages than me and Leatherface" boast on the graphic "4 Sho Sho," and the mixed-gender Black Knights demonstrate the bicoastal nature of the Killer Bee sting on "Zip Code." Ever the watchful talent scout, RZA imports top East Coast lyrical mercenaries Kool G Rap and Jeru (plus Afu Ra) for some serious Shao-Lin spitting on "Cakes" and "East New York Stomp," and Suga Bang Bang's thick Caribbean patois makes the deliberate "Don't Test/Wu Stallion" appropriately hazy. Not that he needs any help, as "Samurai Showdown" offers conclusive proof that Bobby Digital's MC skills are at least equal to his considerable producing acumen. Augmenting the soundtrack's hardcore battle wisdom are several Whitaker-read passages from Tsunetomo Yamamoto's Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. For anyone who thought the sun had set on the empire of the Wu, Ghost Dog is a bracing reminder that the 36 chambers are still cocked, loaded, and itching to fire, as razor-sharp and finely honed as a samurai's prize Bushido blade.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Entanglement (Record Review)

Kahron Spearman, Dec. 13, 2019

Levitation Album Reviews
Dallas Acid
The Spiral Arm (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Nov. 8, 2019

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: Alvin Crow
Alvin Crow
Summer camp with the kids

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle