RZA Speaks On How He Came To Love Kung Fu Flicks, The Wisdom Of Lao Tzu, Hip-Hop's Best Year + More
There are few more complex, multitiered artists in the game today, then the mighty RZA. Say what you will about current his business dealings and marketing tactics, The Wu-Tang Clan‘s figurehead has been a phenomenal force in entertainment since we were introduced to 36 Chambers over two decades ago. In a recent interview with UPROXX, Bobby Digital divulged the origins of his fascination with Eastern culture, how GZA reinforced Lao Tzu’s “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” maxim and, rather candidly, which year(s) of hip-hop stand out as the most influential to him, personally. There are plenty of other gems on the 1-of-1 LP (though he mainly just detracts) and how chess taught him needed discipline. You can read a few compelling excerpts from the chat, but for the full script, head over to UPROXX.
On how the public qualifies the greatness of an artist:
“No artists are great. Jimi Hendrix didn’t have one record sold. He mastered his craft, and when we heard his playing, we were like, yo, I like that. We bought the record. That goes for Jay-Z. We heard him, we liked it, we bought it. We bought Beyonce’s music. We bought Beck’s music. We bought Sam Smith. Now that Sam Smith is an overnight success, and he’s a Grammy winner, we’re going to get upset? No, be happy. Because he gave us that moment in our life that made our day go better.”
On GZA’s reinforcement of Lao Tzu’s “a single step” maxim:
“Throughout my life, I guess my most important single step was when somebody told me to seek knowledge in myself. Seek that knowledge. The person who told me that was the GZA. He’s about three or four years older than me. He told me to do that, and I remember that day walking home. I had to walk by the church, and a guy hands me a pamphlet. In the pamphlet, it says “the bread of life.” Jesus wants you to have the bread of life. And the bread of life is the truth. I memorized the whole pamphlet. I had a good memory. I started memorizing everything, yo. Reading and studying. That first step towards knowledge itself was the best thing for me.”
On hip-hop’s best year:
“There’s been some good years, but it’s hard to say what was the greatest. I’d probably put it before our time, and just say that what was happening in 1986 and 87 that cycle right there was something that was really spread into hip hop culture in a most dominant way because a lot of angles were coming through. You’ve got Rob Base with “It Takes Two,” Rakim, Run DMC, Whodini was still coming out there, LL [Cool J], Kool Moe Dee, Ice-T. There was a lot of different things going on in the world of hip hop. The variety. Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul. Think about all the different aspects of that music that nowadays is shallow. The variety is not there. You go there, it’s more like okay, keep coming baby. No more 31 flavors at Baskin Robbins.”