Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The Method of a Master (Cont’d)

April 14th, 2010 · 3 Comments


Something sorta major just came up, so we need to check out for the afternoon. Apologies, but fear not—we’ll be back strong tomorrow, bringing you nothing but the finest handpicked information. For now, though, please indulge our recent fascination with The RZA’s creative process by checking out this 1999 interview with filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. As many of y’all know, RZA’s first foray into film scoring was done in collaboration with Jarmusch, for Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Besides being the first film that Microkhan and the Grand Empress ever viewed together, Ghost Dog provided a great opportunity for two talented artists to come together in a most unusual way. Here’s Jarmusch’s account of how he obtained RZA’s raw material:

RZA would go away for three weeks, having only seen the film only in a rough cut on an Avid editing machine, and then would call me up and say, “Yo, I got some music, I got a tape, meet me in a blacked-out van at 3am on 38th Street and Broadway.” So I go there, get in the van, RZA gives me a little DAT tape with nothing written on it and says, “Yo, check this shit out” and I’d say, “Does it go anywhere? Any ideas for a particular place in the film?” “Nah, nah you guys figure that shit out, you gotta use hip-hop style, you can edit it, you can change it, you can put two together, here’s some stuff.”

So I got three tapes from him over a two-and-a-half-month period and this guy is a genius; I got real respect for him. He gave me so much incredible music by the end that I couldn’t use it all, it would have drenched the film in music. But he taught me to adapt to his style in the same way Neil [Young] did. Neil said, “I really want to play right to the picture,” and RZA style was, “This is the way I work, hip-hop style, you gotta play with them, you gotta play with them how you wanna.” So I learned a lot from both of them in different ways. And RZA made beautiful, beautiful music for the film.

Our favorite cut off that soundtrack above.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    Awesome, it sounds like something out of “Fortress of Solitude.” You wonder about the dichotomy between an having an outlaw persona and then moonlighting as a superhero. But, it probably makes sense to him.

  • scottstev

    Sorry this comment really pertains to the previous post. Love Ghost Dog. And it is quite different from his other films. The Method and RZA section of “Coffee and Cigarettes” is easily the best, followed closely by Al Molina and Steven Coogan.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Like so many great artists, Jarmusch is really streaky. Agree with you about “Ghost Dog”–a film that actually rewards repeated viewings. But as I think I mentioned in one of my “Best of Oh Nine” posts, I couldn’t sit through “Broken Flowers”–every single scene rang false.

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