The night Wu-Tang Clan and Castlevania conquered New York City

Wu-Tang Clan dropped the seminal Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers in 1993, fusing the New York City-style underground sound with intelligent lyrics, street knowledge, Five Percent Nation teachings, and philosophies ripped straight from old school Asian martial arts flicks.

Shortly after the classic album transformed the hip hop landscape, the crew—nearly a dozen deep—announced that each member would drop a solo album. The best solo effort was Raekwon the Chef’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, which quickly became a hip hop classic much like Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers. The mob-strong album saw Rae and faithful right-hand man Ghostface Killah chronicle cinematic street tales over what was then RZA’s most varied and experimental production.

But what does Wu-Tang Clan have to do with Castlevania, Konami’s monster-slaying action video game? A lot, actually. Or, maybe, nothing at all.

Only Built 4 Cuban Linx‘s lead single was “Glaciers of Ice,” a track featuring Rae, Ghost, and Masta Killa flowing over only what can be described as aural insanity. Listen.

I tuned into NYC’s Hot 97 the night that Funkmaster Flex debuted “Glaciers of Ice” over the radio airwaves. The collective hip hop populace lost it. Not only was the track absolute fire, but station callers—as well as my friends and me—were convinced that RZA sampled Castlevania to create what sounded like an organ from hell. We couldn’t remember which particular Castlevania game that the sample came from, or the specific level music, but believed that a video game was an important part of “Glaciers of Ice”‘s DNA.

The idea wasn’t too bizarre. RZA had a reputation for digging through the crates, grabbing obscure samples, chopping them up, and sometimes distorting them. This is a man who sampled an obscure cartoon, Underdog, to create “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit.”

The official song samples are:

– “Bless Ya Life” by KGB (Klik Ga Bow)
– “Children, Don’t Get Weary” by Booker T. & the MG’s
– “Guillotine (Swordz)” by Raekwon

Castlevania is M.I.A. That doesn’t mean, however, that RZA didn’t sample one of the compositions. It could’ve went unlisted for a variety of reasons, such as not wanting other producers to know the sample origin, or to avoid potential lawsuits for not clearing the sample with Konami.

“Glaciers of Ice” was the hot discussion topic the next day. My boys and I analyzed the track for hours trying to discover its Castlevania origins. This led to us playing Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and Super Castlevania IV in hunt of the sampled composition. We never found it. It doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things, really.

I can look back now and realize that it wasn’t just the sample hunt that intrigued us, it was the validation. The validation that our hobby, one frequently seen as the activity of basement-dwellers, was cool, exciting, and revolutionary.

Just like Wu-Tang Clan.