RZA Makes Pleasant Comeback with DJ Scratch-Produced “Saturday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater” (EP Review)
RZA is a 52 year old MC, producer, actor & filmmaker from New York City who’s widely recognized as being the de facto leader the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. But he was the 2nd & last person of the group following GZA to come out with a solo effort before their full-length debut Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, dropping his debut EP Ooh I Love You Rakeem under Tommy Boy Records just 5 months after The Genius put out his full-length debut Words from the Genius under Cold Chillin’ Records. It wasn’t until late ‘98 though where RZA put out his own debut album Bobby Digital in Stereo, which I think gets criminally overlooked because people were expecting The Cure. He then followed it up with a worthy sequel Digital Bullet, but I can’t say the same for Birth of a Prince or the conclusion to the Bobby Digital trilogy Digi Snax. But after teasing it during Method Man & Redman’s 4/20 Verzuz, he’s returning from a 14-year break in the form of his 4th EP produced entirely by DJ Scratch.
After the intro”, the title track kicks it all off on a symphonic note as Bobby Digital makes his glorious return whereas “Pugilism” mixes some keyboards & strings to get in his shit-talking bag except his vocals are mixed WAY better than it was when he originally dropped it on YouTube last spring. “Never Love Again” keeps the orchestra vibes going getting lovey dovey while the song “Fate of the World” dispiritedly vents about the current state of the world. The penultimate track “Fisherman” goes into jazzy territory talking about how “no one knows for whom the bell tolls” & lastly, “Kaiju” ends the EP getting conscious on top of a militant beat.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this EP given how mid Birth of a Prince & Digi Snax were as well as the 14 year time gap, but I can honestly say this is The Abbot’s best solo effort in 2 decades. I love how DJ Scratch’s production is pretty much a love letter to The RZA’s unique sound down to the Kung Fu movie samples as he details the collision between him & his alter-ego.