As a kid growing up on Staten Island, RZA became obsessed with martial arts films, in part because they represented a struggle against oppression he didn't yet realize existed outside of black America. Classics like The 36th Chamber of Shao Lin awakened his nascent political consciousness, and samples from it and other films lend Wu-Tang Clan's music an air of militancy and brotherhood.
That early obsession with martial arts films continues to be a guiding force in RZA's work: His latest collection for his clothing brand, 36 Chambers, had its debut at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum last fall. And now, RZA returns to the Bay Area to perform a live soundtrack for a special screening of The 36th Chamber of Shao Lin.
For the new score, RZA will draw on Wu-Tang Clan's nearly 30-year catalog, programming beats live throughout the film's 115-minute run time. It's happening at the Castro Theatre on Apr. 26, and there are still tickets on sale.