Both the Wu-Tang albums “Chamber Music” (2009) & last years “Legendary Weapons” were built by working with the Brooklyn soul band The Revelations. The majority of the beats for these albums were produced by Lil Fame, Noah Rubin & myself, sampling & chopping up the music the band played. It was our way of capturing the Rza sound, but also getting around paying for samples & publishing. But before the idea of the “Chamber Music” album ever existed, there were a couple of early studio sessions with Rza & The Revelations. These sessions were very experimental and were just the band & Rza getting to know each-other musically. A couple of beats were made, most notably the core pieces for the beat for what would later become “NYC Crack” (the Rza solo track on “Chamber Music”). Lil Fame & myself resurrected it and completed it during one of the later sessions.
Because of Rza’s schedule & spending a lot of time in LA, he entrusted us to construct the “Chamber Music” album to a point where once the main pieces were there and all the rappers recorded, he could come in towards the end & put his touches on all the tracks. “Evil Deeds” (Ghostface Killah, Rza & Havoc) was one of the last tracks put together that he was heavily involved with. I remember the feeling on the way to the studio to meet with Rza, there was this anxiety of whether or not what we had been working on for the last couple months was going to be approved or rejected. Once the songs started playing and he was happy with them, any worries went away. We all sat around in the studio, going through the tracks, running through them one by one as Rza and his crew nodded their heads in approval. He didn’t want to change much, he gave notes on the mixes and pretty much kept it moving. “Evil Deeds” was a beat that started in an earlier session, with me bringing in a Ramsey Lewis record and asking the band to play something similar. I wanted the replay to be based heavily on Lewis’s opening piano arrangement. Borum, the keyboard player, played a number of short arrangements, which we later chopped up and simplified. The “chorus” that Rza laid down wasn’t originally a chorus. We were short on hooks, so we took the part before his verse & copied & placed it over the piano breakdown between the verses. Rza loved it. His verse is definitely one of the best he has written recently, clearly inspired by Ghost’s opening barrage. With the verses laid out, we started adding in bits of dialogue from the Kung Fu classic “5 Deadly Venoms”. At that point Rza had taken a seat at the main mixing board and was running the Pro-tools session. We all gazed at the large monitors and let him do his thing. He slid and chopped pieces of the dialogue, taking our suggestions on placement etc. Towards the end, I suggested we extend the last bit of dialogue on the track by echoing out the last word until it outlasted the beat fading out underneath it. “I’m gonna try a couple things… Then I’ll try his echo idea…. Bong” he said smiling, never breaking his stare at the monitor. Afterwards having Rza turn to me and tell me my idea was a good one, however simple it was, was pretty surreal. Honestly I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, we were hastily trying to finish an album and the clock was ticking. He was cool as hell though; he appreciated input & was generally excited about the collaborative effort that it took to finish the project. It was a great experience just to be in the same room as the guy who made some of my all time favorite records.
When “Legendary Weapons” started coming together, we recorded with Rza before anyone else in the Clan, out in Cali at his home studio. We had to do this before he left for China to film his movie, “The Man with the Iron Fists”. He recorded verses on pretty much every beat we made. We later narrowed the verses down based on how they sounded with the other rappers. If you listen very closely to the end of Rza’s verse on “225 Rounds” you can hear the beat for “Meteor Hammer” bleeding through his headphones because that verse was originally recorded on the “Meteor Hammer” beat. Bronze Nazareth came through to the studio after we finished the album and he remixed 3 of the unused Rza verses and jumped on 2 of them and spit some dope verses. These tracks were supposed to be Best Buy Bonus Tracks, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out with Best Buy. I think Bronze has plans to release these in the future. Bronze was a beast in the studio, remixing all three tracks during the day and sequencing & recording them later that night. I wasn’t too familiar with his work before that, I just new he made some banging beats. After that brief time in the studio together, I could see why Rza had given him that Wu-Tang co-sign. His work ethic is great and he clearly has a grasp on that Rza/ Wu-Tang sound while also carving his own niche. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and check out Bronze’s recent album “School For the Blindman”.
I Found these in the studio today. These are rough notes from when we were putting together Wu-Tang “Legendary Weapons”. These were used to keep track of everybody and what beat they were on. The hand written one was from early on and the typed out one was when we were finishing up.
By Andrew Kelly