Infobox musical artist
Name = RZA
Img_capt = RZA at
The New Yorkerin 2005.
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Robert Diggs
Alias = "Bobby Digital", "Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah", "Bobby Steels", "The Rzarector", "The Abbot", "Prince Rakeem", "Bobby Boulders", "the Scientist", "Prince Delight", "Prince Dynamite"
Born = birth date and age|1969|7|5 Fact|date=June 2008
Brooklyn, New York
Staten Island, New York, United States
Rapping, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Zither, Sampler
East Coast hip hop
Rapper, CEO, producer, actor
Years_active = 1991–present
Label = Tommy Boy/
Warner Bros. Records Wu-Tang Records/Razor Sharp/Epic/ 36 Chambers Records/ Wu Music Group/ Wu-Tang International/SME Records
Wu-Tang Clan, Gravediggaz, Achozen, T-Money
Robert F. Diggs (born
July 5, 1969[ [http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/20080705.html On This Day ] ] ), better known as RZA (pronounced [IPA|ˈɹɪzʌ] ), is an American music producer, rapper, and occasional actor. A prominent figure in hip hop music, he is the " de facto" leader of the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. He has produced almost all of Wu-Tang Clan's albums as well as many Wu-Tang solo and affiliate projects. He subsequently gained attention for his work scoring and acting in films.
He has also released solo albums under the alter-ego Bobby Digital, who concerns himself only with the lawless aspect of the male power fantasy: women, drugs, alcohol and shooting guns. In addition to the Wu-Tang Clan and his solo releases, RZA was also a founding member of the rap group,
Gravediggaz, where he used the name, The Rzarector.
After recently releasing the latest "Bobby Digital" album, "
Digi Snacks", RZA is currently working on the upcoming sequel to Raekwon's mafioso rapclassic " Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...". He has also confirmed he has co-produced a track on the upcoming Dr. Drealbum Detox.Fact|date=August 2008 He is also working on a kung-fu movie, entitled Man with the Iron Fist, in which he is writting, directing, as well as starring in. [http://www.filmstalker.co.uk/archives/2008/07/rzas_the_man_with_the_iron_fis.html]
1969-1991: Early life & career
Born in Brownsville,
Brooklyn, New York, RZA spent time in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as a child, where his father had a convenience storein the Hill District.Lolley, Sarah ( July 13, 2001). " [http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/20010713hiphop0713fnp3.asp Pittsburgh's underground hip-hop scene has helped produce key players like RZA and Mel-Man] ". " Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Retrieved on April 5, 2008.] After an impoverished childhood in a family of 11 children, Fact|date=August 2008 RZA began his hip hop career in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a member of the trio Force of the Imperial Master (which subsequently became known as the All in Together Now Crewafter they had a successful underground single of that name). The group consisted of future Wu-Tang members and his cousins GZA(then known as the Genius) and Ol' Dirty Bastard(then known, respectively, as Ason Unique, the Specialist, and the Professor).
Once this acclaimed local band dissolved, both he and GZA attempted to kick start solo careers. With the help of GZA's friend Melquan (then owner of Jamaica Records) they both secured single deals with album options at successful labels, GZA going to Cold Chillin and RZA to Tommy Boy. GZA ultimately released the "
Words from the Genius" album, but RZA's stint at Tommy Boy ended with only the EP " Ooh I Love You Rakeem" to show for it when he went to jail soon after its release. GZA's album flopped, and the two cousins became determined to conquer the hip hop industry on their own terms. Throughout most of his youth he enjoyed watching various kung-fu movies and purchasing countless albums which he would later sample inmost of his music.
cquote| Early on, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and I used to watch kung fu movies, leave the theater, do some kung fu fighting, get on the train, keep fighting, and then run into MCs and musically battle them like it was a kung fu fight. That was my weekend habit.
When we could afford VCRs, we got all the kung fu movies we could get our hands on and watched three or four a day. We were smoking blunts, drinking beer, watching movies, making demo tapes. To this day, at least four times a week, a kung fu flick is in my DVD player. And I’m still DJing, making beats, making songs, and fucking with kung fu movies. I’m still the same kid when it comes to those things.
As said in a Film Comment interview.. (May/June 2008)
1992-1993: "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)"
From this determination came the Wu-Tang Clan (named after Shaolin and Wu Tang, a kung fu movie), formed with The GZA/Genius and Ol' Dirty Bastard as well as with 6 others (Inspectah Deck/Rebel INS, Raekwon the Chef, Method Man, Masta Killa, U-God/Golden Arms and Ghostface Killah). With the Clan, Prince Rakeem started going by the name RZA (Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah).
After the single "Protect Ya Neck," which was driven by a raucous RZA-produced beat, made the group into underground sensations, the group released their debut LP "
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)". The album, which only cost $36K to produce, eventually went platinum, and was heralded by hip-hop fans as a classic. "Enter the Wu-Tang" revolutionized hip hop and helped bring the East Coast back into the spotlight after Dr. Dre's G-funkhad come to dominate the rap scene, in large part thanks to RZA's lean, gritty and very distinctive production style.
1994–1996: Wu-Tang Solo Projects: Round One
As each of the group's members embarked on solo careers, The RZA continued to produce nearly everything Wu-Tang released during the period 1994–1996, producing in both the hip-hop producer sense (composing and arranging the instrumental tracks) and in the wider music producer sense (overseeing and directing the creative process as well as devising song concepts and structure in addition to being responsible for a recording’s final sound). Indeed, The RZA's rule over the Clan at this time is described in 2004's "Wu-Tang Manual" book as "a dictatorship."
His sound was to develop from the raw, minimalist sounds of
Method Man's "Tical" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's " Return to the 36 Chambers" to more cinematic and expansive soundscapes driven by string sections or thick layers of synthesizer on Ghostface Killah's "Ironman", GZA's " Liquid Swords", and Raekwon's " Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...". All of the group's albums during the period from 1994 to 1996 are highly regarded by critics and hip-hop enthusiasts.
During this time, The RZA also took part in the creation of a hip-hop subgenre called horror-core with the
Gravediggaz, an off-and-on hip-hop supergroup including Frukwanof Stetsasonic, Too Poetic of the Brothers Grym, and Prince Paulwho released the critically acclaimed album " 6 Feet Deep" in 1994. As part of the Gravediggaz, he went by the name The RZArecta. In reference to RZA's start with the group he mentions:
cquote| When it came time for the Gravediggaz,
Prince Paulwas thinking about putting a group together. He wanted to get some good MCs. Poetic was another dope MC who was underrated out in Long Island. He had one single out on Tommy Boy that didn't take off, but he was a dope MC. As the Grym Reaper, you know how many dope lyrics he dropped. Frukwan, one of the top lyricists out of Stetsasonic. He and Paul were friends already. He told him about me. He said, "I know this one guy who is super-dope."
At the same time, I was also trying to do Wu-Tang. I was trying to start my own company and stuff, so when Paul called me up and invited me to his crib in
Long Islandand told me his idea for forming this group, I thought it would be an honor to be in a group with him. But I told him, "I'm also producing a group, and I'm also part of a family that I'm building." He said, "Yo, that's crazy." We would talk a lot of times. ODBcame to his house a lot of times with me. Meth, too. We all would just go there and try to find ways to get out of the streets. Me, I was trying to get out of the ghetto. Paul had a lot of respect for me, so he helped me break out of it. I think he liked that I was so dark, but I didn't know I was dark. [http://wuforever.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=74&page=1]
1997: "Wu-Tang Forever"
The success of "
Wu-Tang Forever", which hit number one on the charts after selling 600,000 in its first week, also marked the end of RZA's "five year plan"; at the group's inception, he promised the group if he had total dictatorial control of the Wu-Tang empire, it would conquer the hip hop world within five years.
After Forever's success, RZA ceased to oversee all aspects of Wu-Tang product as he had previously, delegating much of his existing role to associates such as Oli "Power" Grant and his brother Mitchell "Divine" Diggs, and giving each Clan member more individual control. This move was designed to enable the Wu-Tang empire to expand further and further into the fabric of the hip hop industry, and in accordance with this an extremely large amount of Wu-Tang music was to be released over the next two years.
This had already to some extent begun on "
Wu-Tang Forever", which for the first time featured RZA delegating a small number of beatmaking duties to other producers in the Wu-Tang camp, such as his proteges True Masterand 4th Disciplewho are known as the Wu-Elements, and Clan member Inspectah Deck. [http://wuforever.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=63&page=1 RZA says that he's been letting other producers into the Wu game because "they know how to create the sound now." Could that explain how stagnant Wu production has been lately?]
1998-1999: Wu-Tang Solo Projects: Round Two
During the 1998–2000 period RZA ceased to produce every Wu-Tang solo album as he had done previously, but continued to contribute usually one or two beats on average to each record as well as receiving an Executive Producer credit.
He also reformed with the
Gravediggazfor the album " The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel", a calmer and more mature album than their horrorcore-oriented debut.
During this time, he also began work on two solo albums, entitled "The Cure", and "
RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo". Although he released his first solo effort titled " RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo" in 1998, he ironically stated in a interview with The Source Magazinethat he originally wanted to release " The Cure" first. Believing that the timing was not right he decided to release " RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo" as his solo debut album instead. In the march 2000 interview he stated:
cquote| I had to put out "Bobby Digital" instead of "The Cure" because if I didn't do that I would've suffered two things. First, I would have revealed where I was musically too soon. Wu-Tang is the perfect medium to expose anything new because I got the most people coming together to buy it. For me to expose it for my own self, I don't think that would've been a wise thing for me to do. I might've caught more people than Bobby Digital caught, but I still wouldn't catch the magnitude of what the Wu-Tang could catch. Maybe this year or next year the game may be different. "
The Cure" is so intimate in writing that you gotta live that Cure shit. I was living like Bobby Digital in '98, '99 na'mean? So if I put " cure (disambiguation)out, then I wouldn't even be able to get on stage and perform it for ya'll cause I'd be lying."
RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo" was a well-received experimental concept album featuring him rapping as his hedonistic, fun-loving alter-ego Bobby Digital and showcasing a unique keyboard-driven sound RZA called "digital orchestra", receiving mostly positive reviews.
"The Cure album currently remains unreleased and incomplete, due to further work and development being continued into the new millennium. It is now said to be RZA's final solo album. Within the same year, a mixtape known as "
Formula For The Cure" was compiled and released by Dreddy Kruger, without RZA's approval and consent. The mixtape was meant to be as a prequelof some sorts to the final solo album.
The term viral in viral marketing was originally used to describe the spread of artist's names and music. It is another byproduct of the street teams model, more so online street teams. The same as those that were instrumental in helping to make Wu Tang a successful global brand. The term virus or viral was used in correlation to the term meme. A meme being a unit of cultural information transferred from one mind to the next. In order to get an artist's meme out quickly, Burchett believed you had to get other people to propagate that message, in various places, in large numbers. This idea came from discussions between Rolando Bell, Lottman and Sokol. They discovered the best way to do this was to offer products to people. They realized that people will work for product if it's a good product, something they desire. He eventually tried to test this same theory online and offer product in exchange for promotions while still maintaining a strong profit margin. The test proved to be successful after the first 6 weeks of promotions they had accumulates over 5,000 people for their online street marketing team. Each of those 5,000 loyal customers then kept a certain amount of product and sold the rest. This allowed the building of loyal marketing teams in a rapid fashion. The total number of online street members reached a total of 100,000 people worldwide.
2000: "The W"
After helming another Wu-Tang group album titled "
The W" (his production on which received much praise) and providing narration to a Clan greatest hits album titled " The RZA Hits", RZA released another Bobby Digital album, 2001's " Digital Bullet". "Digital Bullet" was an attempt to develop Bobby Digital further, and the album followed a loose story arc which saw the character becoming more "enlightened" and more disillusioned with hedonism as the album went on.
2001-2004: Post "The W" solo projects
In 1999 the RZA moved into composing film scores. His first work,
Jim Jarmusch's "" (1999), earned praise; he also had brief cameo in the film itself, as a fellow samurai wearing camouflage. The experience was positive and, as he noted during an interview on National Public Radio's " Fresh Air", the work with traditional musicians gave him the desire to learn how to read and write music. [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4525189 Rapper, Producer, Composer: The RZA : NPR Music ] ]
The critical success of the led to further work. The RZA created and produced the original music for
Quentin Tarantino's " Kill Bill" series, as well as "", and " Soul Plane". The RZA was nominated for four different awards for the work he did on the Kill Bill vol. 1 and 2 soundtracks, winning one.
In the beginning of 2003 he also produced a few tracks for "
The Mindscape of Alan Moore".
His third solo album is titled, "
Birth of a Prince",which was released in 2003 under the name RZA, (see 2003 in music) and spawned the single "We Pop". The album itself featured a mix of lighthearted Bobby Digital tracks and more lyrically highbrow RZA tracks. In 2003 he also released an album of collaborations with international rap and R&B musicians (including the UK's Skinnyman, France's Saïan Supa Crew, Germany's Xavier Naidooand Italy's Frankie Hi-NRG MC) entitled " The World According to RZA", which was successful in many countries, despite not being sold in the U.S..
2005-Present: Solo Projects: Round Three
In 2005 RZA released the long-gestating book "
Wu-Tang Manual", an in-depth discussion of the Wu-Tang's virtues, vices and philosophies. RZA continued to act in and score movies such as Derailed, Blood of a Championand Miami Vice. He also contributed a bonus track for the reissued soundtrack to the Jet Lifilm Unleashed. In 2006 he contributed five beats to Method Man's latest album "" and also executive produced the project.
In late January 2007 he announced that he was working on a fourth album tentatively titled, "
Digi Snacks", which continues the further adventures of Bobby Digital. The Album is scheduled to be released at June 24th 2008. [http://www.allhiphop.com/hiphopnews/?ID=6660] The albums first single, "You Can't Stop Me Now" (featuring Inspectah Deck), was released in March 2008 in preparation for a planned release in Summer 2008.
He has also stated that the long-delayed "
cure (disambiguation)" album will now be his final solo album, for he will end his career as MC and move on with his movie directing career. The album will feature deeper lyrics and guests ranging from
Zack de la Rochato Isaac Hayes.
Before signing with
SRC Recordsin early 2007, RZA was flooded with offers from Bad Boy Records, Aftermath Records, Interscopeand Def Jamamong others for the Wu-Tang Clan super-group. [ [http://www.wutang-corp.com/news/article.php?id=227 Cilvaringz: Wu-Tang Report :: news articles at Wu-Tang Corp. - The Official Site of the Wu-Tang Clan ] ]
In 2007, he did the of the American adaptation of the Japanese anime "
Afro Samurai" starring Samuel L. Jackson.
He recently and quietly released an instrumental album entitled,
The RZA-Instrumental Experience.
Currently he is working with Raekwon on his highly anticipated "
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II" . He has also recorded with the Red Hot Chili Peppersguitarist John Fruscianteand is set to contribute to Cannibal Ox's upcoming album, along with Pete Rockand El-P.Fact|date=February 2007
Talks are on between
System of a Downbassist Shavo Odadjianand RZA regarding a collaboration between the two artists called ACHOZEN. [ [http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=126615248 MySpace.com - ACHOZEN - LOS ANGELES, California - Hip Hop / Experimental / Visual - www.myspace.com/achozen ] ] GZA has stated in an interview that he is involved in the project. [ [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1511602/20051017/system_of_a_down.jhtml?headlines=true System Of A Tang? Shavo Collaborates With RZA, GZA - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News ] ]
RZA has announced on September 10, 2008, that a partnership with global digital music group
The Orchard, which will market Wu’s extensive catalogue worldwide in digital and physical formats. The deal include new material and 13 previous Clan releases that have been unavailable digitally from the Wu-Tang Clan, Killarmy, Wu-Syndicate, Shyheim, U-God, Black Knights, and West Coast Killa Beez. Wu-Tang's Viral marketing began as a study of promoting an artist online globally. Having organizations in 27 countries, The Orchard is one of the world’s largest music distribution organizations. RZA explained that the deal was a natural progression needed to make sure that fans will have continued access to Wu’s catalogue in the ever-changing music industry. Also launching is the online video channel Wu Music Tube, a forum focused on allowing the artists to speak directly with their fans. In the ensuing months, Wu’s music and video catalogue will also be featured by various brands and ad agencies in marketing and promotion programs around the world. Wu Music Group’s catalogue will be available worldwide for downloads on September 23. RZA told AllHipHop.com:
“The time is right to bring some older material to the masses digitally. Our fans have been dedicated and patient, and they’re hungry to hear the music that has set us apart from so many others. Hip-hop is alive in Wu Music, and with The Orchard, we’ve got a solid partner that understands our audience and is committed to doing all they can to help us reach the fans. I’m definitely looking forward to working with them to see what else we all come up with. There’s much more to come.”[http://www.rapsearch.com/news/article/wu-music-group-signs-global-digital-distribution-deal]
Various Wu-Recording labels
Since the early 1990s, several ""wu recording labels" were established. The earlier labels are believed to be dissolved. The connection that
RZAhad to these labels were unknown.
Other record labels were later founded in the early 2000s, and are still active in the present. Very little is known about these labels, other that the fact that RZA produces music on them. It is unknown if RZA is
CEO, or has high position within these labels, considering that he was never known to have a CEO position of any recording label.
Razor Sharp Records
36 Chambers Records
Wu Music Group
Mentality and Leadership
The Wu-Tang Manual, at the group's inception, RZA started what he called the "5 Year Plan" in which he asked the other 8 members of the Clan for 5 years of life, hard work and good lyrics. He promised the members that if he had total control of the Wu-Tang empire, he would "take them to the top", and conquer the hip-hop world within a dynastic cycle. Afterwards, then he would relinquish his total control. He described this five year period "as a dictatorship". RZA's "five year "dictatorship" was completed after the successful release of Wu-Tang Forever.
As each of the group's members embarked on solo careers, The RZA continued to produce nearly everything Wu-Tang released during the period 1994–1996. He was in control of producing composing, arranging, overseeing, directing, and possibly naming songs. He was over the creative process as well as devising song concepts and structure, in addition to being responsible for a recording’s final sound. All of this was the majority of his "dictatorship." He began doing this on a reduced extent around the time that he relinquised his dictatorship, thus taking complete control of fewer solo projects between group releases.
cquote| On 1997, I personally tore Wu Tang Clan up. I won't forget this day, we were on the
Rage Against The Machinetour bus. Everybody was becoming lazy, niggas even started not showin' up. I said "Yo! I did my shit! From this point on, do what the fuck you want. The Wu Mansion? Y'all turned that shit to a club house! From now on, The Wu Mansion is MY house. You wanna come and rock? I'll be there”, and niggas respected it. To me, it's like Mike Tyson: he got to the top of the world and shit, and he stopped trainin'. Fuck that, you must never stop trainin'. Well you can stop if you want, if you're happy, but if you wanna go further. All I did was promise to get'em to there, from this point, it's up to each of them. For that, Method Man's a good example: he took it to the movies and he went to the moon. So brothers had no success after that, nahmean? Cappadonna, see, he's drivin' a cab. Well, he's aight, we take him on tour, he makes a couple hundred grands, so… He's my man, he's hustlin'… [http://www.hiphopcore.net/interviews/93%7Ceng-rza.html]
He has stated in several interviews that the challenges of maintaining the group are not egos, but rather timing and scheduling due to the fact that the members have families and side projects.Although he assumes leadership within the group, upon mere mention in interviews, he reacts in a
modestand humblemanner, and often compares the formation of the group to Voltron.
Unlike the average hip hop musician, he has shown little or no concern about illegal downloading, for he simply wants to be seen and heard. He was once asked if he was worried about illegal downloading of his music:
In several interviews, in response to the phrase "Hip Hop is Dead", he said, "How can hip hop be dead if Wu Tang is forever?" In regards of the southern dominance, rather than criticize the music, he instead spoke on the look and image of the southern artists themselves. He went on to say:
cquote| How has the South dominated hip-hop for the last four, five years without
lyrics, without hip-hop culture really in their blood? Those brothers came out representing more of a stereotypeof how black people are, and I think the media would rather see us as ignorant, crazy motherfuckers than seeing us as intelligent young men trying to rise and take care of ourselves. [http://www.urb.com/features/246/WuTangWiddlingDownInfinity.php?PageId=2]
Influence on Global Culture
In 1999-2000 Wu Tang began offering Wu Wear clothing online in exchange for promotional work in various countries. The idea of a global online street team concept was born out of discussions between the Wu Tang Creative department and Leveious Rolando and Larry Lottman who were consulting for Wu Creative at the time. After a conversation with Rza the heads of Wu Creative, Gibran Burchett and Mike Bell suggested building an online community to create stickiness to keep users online for extended times and keep them coming back. Loud began to see the advantages in the online street team model and invested in internet startup AKA.COM. AKA.COM borrowed from the online street team model and the techniques being used at Wu Tang Creative department and previous models. With financing behind them AKA.COM began to grow rapidly there were no significant other companies operating as an affiliate for corporations. Wu Creative focused on affiliate programs with their own traffic. The idea was to direct users from high traffic sites to their site which would run ads and collect revenues from companies looking to promote their products. Over the next year Loud, AKA and Wu Tang Creative often shared ideas on how to market online since there were no current online models. The three companies at the time each shared traffic between sites by creating cross promotional programs in addition to a number of other pioneering strategies that have laid the foundation for current models being used by corporations today.
In January 2001 Wu Creative received a web casting server from Leveious Rolando, Larry Lottman and John Sokol pioneer of DVBH video streaming technology at the time working for Pervasys a video streaming media company. X-Ray Technology was also being used to stream media in the porn industry. It's advantages at the time is that it didn't require a plugin and live streaming was possible. Live meaning from stored video source or video camera. This led to the early experimentations of web casting back and forth between California and New York with Sokol, Lottman and Rolando. The web casting server was the only video streaming unit used in the industry at that time and was based on X-Ray technology. It allowed live streaming of media without the use of plugins, which was instrumental in helping maintain traffic on the Wu Tang sites. Users tuned in on a regular basis to see Wu Tang members recording live in the studio or just fooling around. This was an early example of reality television on the internet. Before the beginnings of Wu Creative the Wutang office had no email at the Wu Tang office and none of the computers were networked. The office would even in the late nineties send courier back and forth for reviewing and signing of documents.
This new way of looking at Wu Tang Clan as a brand was echoed with Loud Records and both Wu-Tang Creative this helped to push the group over the million album sales mark. The increased traffic to the site was contributed to the non-traditional marketing efforts of Wu Tang and the increased development of contact like live web cast being run from the studios. This extra content served as a means of keeping users online for extended periods online. Gibran believed that this would increase advertising dollars on the Wu Tang sites if users stayed longer periods. Method Man Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa would wind up giving most of the performances.
Wu Tang site was averaging 9,000 -10,000 hits per month, during album sales it peaked at 500,000 hits for a two months following a releases. Without other efforts. For the launch Wu Creative designed a series of three sites for Rza which are currently defunct these were the official Wu Tang.com, WuTangfilmz.com, Bobby-digital.com. After just 6 months the site traffic increased dramatically to 3 million unique hits per month. This growth can be contributed to the efforts of Wu Tang Creative's creation of an online community, with 50+ hours of Wu Tang footage, in combination of other content and marketing techniques added and the teamwork of Loud and AKA.COM. The global street team would offer merchandise to online street team supporters on multiple levels. The site would later feature [http://youtube.com/watch?v=n2zNa5mbbXg a cartoon titled "Fare Game" for the release of the Bobby Digital album release. Rza as Bobby Digital drove a high tech cab around the city and used a robot he built in the lab to help fight crime and corrupt corporations carried out the missions] . In addition Footage of
Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dogwith Academy Award Winner Forest Whitakerin which Rza created the score. (as noted in The Source Magazine'2000)
Acting and Directing career
In addition to working behind the scenes on movie scores, RZA has been active on-screen as well. He has made cameo appearances as himself in numerous major motion pictures throughout the course of his career such as
Be Cool, Scary Movie 3, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. RZA has also made cameo various appearances in the films and Rhyme & Reason.
His acting career began to rise in the mid 2000s alongside fellow Wu-Tang member
GZAin one segment of Jim Jarmusch's " Coffee and Cigarettes" opposite Bill Murray. He and the GZA have also made appearances on " Chappelle's Show" and Upright Citizens Brigade.
He followed up with a big role in the hit 2005 film
Derailed. The same year, he served as the Artist in Residence for the LA Film Festival.
RZA was offered the role of "Brown" in
The Departed(2006), but turned it down because of scheduling conflicts. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0753526/bio RZA (I) - Biography ] ]
Rza's most recent role, and possibly his biggest to date, is in "American Gangster" as "Moses Jones". American Gangster is a 2007
crime drama filmdirected by Ridley Scottstarring Denzel Washingtonand Russell Crowe.
He has also been confirmed for roles in
Gospel Hill, Repossession Mambo, and Life Is Hot in Cracktown. He is also said to be attached to Quentin Tarantino's next Kill Billproject in one way or another.
Very little is known about his directing history, although he once directed and starred in an unreleased Bobby Digital movie. It hasn't seen the light of day, due to feeling that it wasn't good enough. However, there is [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9sbMT6CPck&feature=related|a brief Bobby Digital film trailer] , which can be seen on youtube.com. He was once asked about directing:
[ [http://www.ffwdweekly.com/article/music/music-previews/ruler-zig-zag-zig-allah/ FFWD: Calgary's News & Entertainment Weekly :: The Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah ] ]
Another interesting situation is the recent postings on
youtubeof a kung-fu movie, which can be viewed under the title [http://youtube.com/results?search_query=rza%27s+movie&search_type=&aq=f RZA's movie] It has been recently revealed that the movie's title is Man with the Iron Fist. Director Quentin Tarantinois said to be involved with the movie, as well as Eli Roth. [http://www.filmstalker.co.uk/archives/2008/07/rzas_the_man_with_the_iron_fis.html] [http://www.411mania.com/movies/news/79684/ [Movies] -Eli-Roth-On-RZA/s-The-Man-With-The-Iron-Fist.htm] [http://chud.com/articles/articles/15467/1/ELI-ROTH-GIVES-CHUD-THE-SCOOP-ON-RZA039S-MARTIAL-ARTS-MOVIE/Page1.html]
Various Names and Aliases
RZA is well known for having multiple
aliases, for different lyrical styles and personalities. The aliases Prince Rakeem, Chester Benningston, The Abbot, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, Bobby Boulders, The Kid with Braids, The Razor, The RZA, and Prince Dynamite. During his time with the Gravediggaz, he went by the name Rzarector, which is for waking up the mentally dead. [http://www.hiphopcore.net/interviews/93%7Ceng-rza.html And to me, my names be flexin' personalities of myself: Prince Rakeem, Bobby Digital, Bobby Steels, the RZA, the Rzarector… These are personalities of myself. I'm able to realize that.]
He was once affiliated with the
the Nation of Gods and Earthsbut has stated he that he is no longer a member of any particular group. However, he usually wears the Five Percenter Universal Flag as a necklace, and still follows Five Percenteraspects, which include the Supreme Mathematicsand the Supreme Alphabet. He also has taken on various aspects of Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianityas stated in his book " The Wu-Tang Manual" in order to expand his spiritual growth. One of his favorite hobbies consists of watching kung-fu movies, and is considered to be an "encyclopedia of martial arts films", due to his vast knowlege of many martial art films. [http://chud.com/articles/articles/15467/1/ELI-ROTH-GIVES-CHUD-THE-SCOOP-ON-RZA039S-MARTIAL-ARTS-MOVIE/Page1.html] His second well-known hobby is chess, for he is a Director of Development, and champion of the Hip-Hop Chess Federation. [http://www.ballerstatus.com/article/news/2007/10/3280/ Rza Crowned Hip-Hop Chess Champ] [http://hiphopchessfederation.org/images/nyt_article.gifWhere Hip-Hop, Martial Arts and Chess Meet - The New York Times ] [http://www.prefixmag.com/news/rza-wins-chess-championship/11802/ RZA currently the proud owner of a 20lb gold Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF) belt] A practictioner of kung-fuand veganism[http://wuforever.com/index.php?name=Sections&req=viewarticle&artid=24&page=1 I’m also a vegetarian, so I had a very hard time getting a proper diet. But I did it and I loved every moment.”] , he was once married, and believed to have many children.
[ [http://larecord.com/interviews/2008/06/20/rza-kung-fu-cures-perversion/ L.A. Record » Blog Archive » Rza: Kung Fu Cures Perversion! ] ]
In 2000 the Village Voice ran a story about the FBI infiltrating the Wu Tang Clan through a criminal-turned-informant named Michael Caruso who got a job as the personal manager for Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna. Several other members of the group did not like Caruso, however his ties with Ghostface and Cappadonna got him into the inner circles of the Wu. [ [http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0021,owen,15084,1.html Wu-Tang Clan is Sumthing ta Fuck Wit, page 1 - News - Village Voice - Village Voice ] ] Due to Caruso's criminal past he was prohibited by law to associate with felons (which many members of the Clan are) or leave the state of New York, however these restrictions were lifted in return for providing information on the group. The federal government turned their head and allowed Caruso to tour around the country with Wu-Tang as long as he was kicking back info on their involvement in
gunrunningand the Gambino crime family. [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5922868/wutang_clan_fires_manager_after_village_voice_expose Wu-Tang Clan Fires Manager After Village Voice Expose : Rolling Stone ] ]
Caruso was subsequently fired from all duties regarding The Wu Tang Clan's business when these allegations came to light. RZA forced Cappadonna to fire him as his manager, however Caruso still works with Ghostface and is on his new poker team. [ [http://www.allininterprises.com/GFKpoker/caruso.php Ghostface Killah Poker - Caruso ] ] The report rules out the majority of Wu Tang affiliated performers and focuses on those running the business aspect of the Wu empire, Oli "Power" Grant and Mitchell "Divine" Diggs (RZA's brother) and The RZA himself.
The issue was recently resurfaced by
FOX Newsin mid-2007 after RZA attended one of Hillary Clinton's parties and donated money to her 2008 campaign. FOX News criticized the fact that Clinton took money from The RZA, claiming it was contradictory due to RZA's felony record, FBI investigation, ties to the Gambino family and his music lyrics. [ [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0uWwVzmcNk YouTube - Broadcast Yourself ] ] RZA referenced the investigation in one of his lyrics, "Feds had one ad saying I gun traff'/I sold 20 million records bitch! You make me laugh."
In a recent interview with MTV he stated, in response of the beliefs that the group would dissolve;
Recently he was accused by several members that he mishandled money. While in the U.K., when questioned by radio DJ Tim Westwood, concerning the group situation, RZA said, "It's really all good, it's just different directions... Everything is back peace already." the RZA also rebutted claims that he owes group members any money. He yelled:
In a June 2008 interview with
L.A. Record, RZA elaborated on the $20,000 bullet-proof suit, car and briefcase he mentions in the Wu Tang Manual.
Production Style and Influence
He has stated that he uses "the sampler more like a painter's palette than a Xerox. Then again, I might use it as a Xerox if I find rare beats that nobody had in their crates yet." According to himself, RZA tries to have no more than 20 to 25% of the latter type of sampling on any given record, something starkly different from many other major hip hop groups. He played much of the piano himself, with Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk as major influences; for instance, he created the piano part to "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" after watching the Thelonious Monk documentary, Straight, No Chaser. 
RZA has stated
Ennio Morricone, Mark E. Smith, Syl Johnson, Marley Marl, Augustus Pabloand Danny Elfmanas musicians he is fond of and has taken influence from. During the "Enter the Wu-Tang" period, RZA's production consisted mainly of stripped-down, frenetic piano loops and finger-snaps with heavy bass and drums, though he experimented with more melodic sounds on the album's "Method Man" and "C.R.E.A.M." He also began incorporating skitsconsisting of clips of old kung fumovies.
The next two solo albums from the Wu, Method Man's "Tical" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version", featured versions of the same style of production from the RZA; the former delved somewhat into old soul records and became somewhat bouncy rather than quite as gritty, while the latter was at times even more simplistic than the group's debut.
On Raekwon's "
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" and GZA's " Liquid Swords", RZA would immerse his beats in dark, sinister soul sampling, pioneering the technique of speeding up or slowing down samples to fit the beat. He also fully realized the potential of the skit, using samples from John Woo's film "The Killer" to string the "Cuban Linx" album together into a loose storyline.
RZA's production technique, specifically the manner of chopping up and/or speeding or slowing soul samples to fit his beats, has been picked up by currently popular producers — most notably
Kanye Westand Just Blaze, the two main producers behind Roc-A-Fella Records. West's own take on RZA's style [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1096499-5,00.html Why You Can't Ignore Kanye - TIME ] ] briefly flooded the rap market with what was dubbed "chipmunk soul," the speeding of a vocal sample to where it sounded as though the singer had inhaled helium. Several producers at the time copied the style, creating other offshoots. West has admitted that his style was distinctly influenced by the RZA's production, [ [http://www.gale.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/west_k.htm Gale - Free Resources - Black History - Biographies - Kanye West ] ] and RZA has acknowledged his influence in an issue of "Scratch" magazine, saying he wished he had produced " Jesus Walks" and "Breathe", two 2004 hits produced by Kanye West and Just Blaze, respectively.Fact|date=February 2007 Said by Kanye West:
Subsequent Wu group albums saw RZA become even more experimental, usually with soul samples as well as the layers added his beats. Around 1997 he began tutoring
4th Disciple, True Masterand Mathematics in production. The early-mid 2000's have seen him move more toward smoother and more tightly-assembled productions, where the melody, drums, bass and other elements play more off each other than they previously had in his beats.
His Bobby Digital albums introduced tweaked-out
new ageelements to his sound; these have incorporated themselves more fully into his beats on newer albums such as Method Man's .
The Beatles song being covered is "
While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for the 8 Diagramsalbum.
* [http://www.boldtype.com/issues/july2005/rza/ RZA guest edits Boldtype]
* [http://www.usashaolintemple.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=45&Itemid=0 RZA interviews Shaolin Monk, Sifu Shi Yan-Ming]
* [http://www.filmlinc.com/fcm/mj08/rza.htm "Film Comment" interview with RZA]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=n2zNa5mbbXg The Cure starring RZA]
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