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Where is RZA?

Every week I run a poll on my own site to determine important issues such as which race of women is the sluttiest (white), which of the world’s dominant religions is the worst (Islam, natch), and which one of Prince’s albums is the best.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a poll to determine who was the best producer in hip-hop right now. Your choices included Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Just Blaze, Kanye West, and Timbaland. Dre and Primo battled it out for number one (Dre one by a few votes), while Just Blaze managed to edge out Kanye West and Timbaland, whose supposedly not producing any more rap records.

Of course after I posted the results, lots of people had their own opinions. The question of whether or not Dre even “produces” his own beats, which I think is a fairly valid issue to raise, but also the topic for another, separate discussion. And proving that there will likely still be Wu-Tang stans (and cockroaches) around after the apocalypse, someone had to wonder where was the RZA.

To be sure, Wu-Tang is still somewhat of a force in hip-hop, even ten years after their collective peak. Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale, underwhelming though it may be, is arguably the year’s best rap album, even if no one bought it. And they can still bring out thousands upon thousands of cracka-ass crackas to whatever this Rock the Bells Festival is[1].

The RZA though? Possibly not so much. I mean, where the fuck is the guy? I understand he’s been consumed in recent years with his work doing film scores, but has anybody actually heard a film score from this guy since the days of Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (which was admittedly rather brilliant). As I recall there weren’t too many original RZA pieces on the Kill Bill soundtrack, which has been a while ago anyway.

None of the tracks leaked from Method Man’s destined to be lackluster 4/21: The Day After have been produced by the RZA, which would lead me to believe that there either aren’t very many RZA tracks on that album, or that Def Jam doesn’t deem them worthy of being played on the radio and/or streamed over the Internets. Then again, we should know better than to expect too much from Mr. Mef by now[2].

The album we should be looking forward to is Raekwon’s forthcoming (or is it?) Cuban Linx II. Even though it’s being billed as a Raekwon solo joint, word on the mean streets of the Internets is that it’s primarily composed of tracks the RZA put together for an ill-fated Wu-Tang group originally slated for some time last year. Granted, the last Wu-Tang album kinda sucked (that Uzi song kicked ass though), but this time out RZA’s got something to prove.

In an age in which hip-hop is approaching a commercial (and arguably creative) nadir unimaginable as recently as a couple of years ago, it would seem as good a time as any for the RZA to reassert himself as one of the top producers in hip-hop.

[1] It looks cool. Too bad it’s in California.

[2] Crap, I hope he doesn’t read this!

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