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Thread: RZA's Tao of Wu

  1. #1
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    RZA's Tao of Wu

    RZA's new book, The Tao of Wu, is dropping this month. Here's an interview from CNN:
    RZA: Wu-Tang a drive-by away from never existing
    updated 4 hours, 7 minutes ago
    By Eliott C. McLaughlin
    CNN

    (CNN) -- The Wu-Tang Clan -- the New York hip-hop supergroup that spawned millions of album sales, nine solo acts and a few acting careers -- almost never was.

    If RZA, left, had been jailed or Method Man killed, Wu-Tang may have never formed, RZA says.

    Method Man, the group's most recognizable voice, was nearly killed before the band formed, Wu-Tang's chief producer, RZA, writes in his forthcoming memoir.

    Meth was walking to buy marijuana at 160 Park Hill Avenue in Staten Island -- the house in Wu-Tang's "Protect Ya Neck" video -- when RZA saw him across the street, he writes in the book.

    "Come over here, yo!" RZA beckoned, according to "The Tao of Wu" (Riverhead). "He stopped and came running over. A few seconds later -- pow-pow-pow-pow-pow! -- a guy started shooting up the front of 160. A buddy of ours, Poppy, an innocent, school-going, nice guy -- he was shot and killed right there."

    It wasn't the only close call RZA said could have snuffed the band that rewrote the rule book for hip-hop acts. The year before the group formed in 1993, RZA was acquitted on an attempted murder charge that could have put him behind bars for eight years, he writes in "The Tao of Wu," out Thursday.

    Expanding on the book's anecdotes in an interview with CNN, RZA explained that if he had been imprisoned or if Method Man, aka Clifford Smith, had been killed, the band never would have come to fruition.

    RZA, whose real name is Robert Diggs and whose stage name is pronounced "Rizza," also talked about his role in the death of his cousin, Russell Jones, better known as Ol' Dirty ******* or ODB. Two days before his 36th birthday in 2004, ODB died in a New York recording studio from an overdose of cocaine and painkillers.

    RZA writes in the book that he once witnessed ODB force his own son to watch him do drugs. RZA tried to leave, he writes, but ODB wouldn't let him. Now, RZA told CNN, he wishes he would've been tougher with ODB about his drug problem.

    The History of Wu
    RZA formed the Wu-Tang Clan in 1993 with his cousins and friends from Staten Island, New York.

    The band -- consisting of Method Man, RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty *******, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa -- quickly made a name for itself with its spastic break beats blended with samples from kung fu movies.

    The group's debut, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)," went platinum and several Wu-Tang members' solo albums went gold. Method Man and Ghostface Killah saw solo efforts go platinum.

    The band commanded the hip-hop scene in the 1990s and racked up millions of album sales. It even started a clothing line called Wu Wear.

    Today, Wu-Tang and its members can still be found on the marquees of hip-hop venues. They also make appearances on the silver screen: RZA appeared in "Funny People" and "American Gangster," while Method Man has appeared in numerous movie roles and on HBO's "The Wire."

    Following are excerpts from the interview, which has been edited for language, flow and length:

    CNN: Could your imprisonment or Method Man's death have derailed Wu-Tang's formation?

    RZA: Either one of those incidents could definitely have derailed it. Of course, myself being the abbot, the one who came with the idea, if I wouldn't have made it out of that tumultuous time -- it seemed like I wasn't going to make it out of it; there was a lot of odds against me -- but we stood strong, and self-defense made sense to the jury. We beat that ...

    It was the victory over that incident that made me change my whole direction. In a way, it's double-edged in that incident. One, if I would've lost that, yeah, Wu-Tang wouldn't have happened, but also it's the victory of it that inspired me and gave me the drive also to go and really get serious about Wu-Tang and the things I was dealing with.

    Same thing with Meth, he always brings it up ... that that day saved his life. He actually said, if it was anybody else calling him, he wouldn't have came.

    CNN: In the book, you cite lessons from Eastern religions, Christianity, Islam, [Nation of Islam offshoot] Five Percent, numerology, comic books, kung fu, chess. What would you say to someone who says it's difficult to reconcile these dogmas?

    RZA: Like it says in the Bible, "In the beginning was the word, and the word became flesh" -- if we go to the root of the word, we will find that, yeah, everything is similar. Everything is teaching us all the same path.

    It's just that one religion was good for these people because of their living conditions. In the Quran, they mention paradise being filled with wells, wells of water, and if you're in the desert and you've got a chance to get water and gardens -- as they describe paradise in the holy Quran -- if you're going to get gardens, that's the paradise that fits your situation. ... Everything they're saying relates to the people they're talking to. ...

    You remove the messenger and take the message.

    CNN: You say in the book that your penchant for violent lyrics in your younger years "was a product of my history and environment" and that it no longer represents you. But you also say you won't repudiate violence. Why not?

    RZA: One reason I haven't repudiated it is because when it's necessary, it's necessary. [The Bible's] Ecclesiastes tell us there's a time for everything -- a time for war, a time for peace -- so in times for war, there's time for violence.

    Then in [the Hindu scripture] Bhagavad Gita, it says Arjuna was talking, Arjuna didn't want to commit violent acts against an army that was attacking him. He couldn't find it in his heart to do it. It was people he loved. He didn't want to get into violence, but Krishna had to point out to him, "Your duty is your duty." ...

    So, to me, violence in the light of justice is still violent, but I don't see it the same. It's because of justice that I don't repudiate violence because justice must be served somehow.

    CNN: ODB was a product of his environment as well. To what degree were you and other Wu-Tang members responsible for his death?

    RZA: The guys would say it's more me than them because they say that's my cousin and I was right there. If you let a man that you love or anybody -- man, woman or child that you love -- sit there and destroy themselves in front of you, you're neglecting them ...

    Everybody let him do what he wanted to do. ... There were times when I took his drugs and threw them down the toilet. When I do that, he would get so ****ed off I don't see him for weeks after that. ...

    So it got to a point, I was like, "[expletive] it, let him do his drugs" just to have him around me, just to keep him there. ... But it's still neglect, yo.

    CNN: You say you ran Wu-Tang like a dictatorship in its first five years. I know you and Raekwon have had creative differences and Ghostface Killah is suing you over royalties. Ever regret the dictatorship approach?

    RZA: I don't regret it because it got us to the power we are. ...

    To me, in the beginning, the dictatorship led us to such a strong foundation that even though Wu-Tang seemed to be crumbling, it didn't fall because of the root foundation of one man's idea. But now as it's coming back together -- we're living in the twilight age of it right now -- it's still surviving because of the democracy of it.

    CNN: Wu-Tang is still around, but nothing like the heyday of the 1990s. Will we ever see a renaissance?

    RZA: Well, to me, Wu-Tang is beyond Wu-Tang Clan. ... It's just like hip-hop is beyond Grandmaster Flash, but Grandmaster Flash was one of the first guys to hit those turntables like that. ...

    The same thing with Wu-Tang. You'll see the difference in hip-hop from the moment we came in to before we came in. We changed it. We changed the whole structure.

    CNN: Have you accomplished everything you've set out to accomplish?

    RZA: I'm me and the me that's me is me and is going to continue to be me, and it's always reaching and growing. I'm grateful for what I've accomplished. I'm grateful for anyone who thinks I accomplished something and says, "Well he did this; he did that." I'm proud to be accepted, but I feel like I've just scratched the surface for some weird reason.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Great interview from TIME!

    I should add here that I've read an advance of Tao of Wu and think it's great. Of course, I'm biased, but it's very revealing about RZA's take on everything: music, martial arts, religion, poverty, he's all over the place in this. It's a collection of short, very engaging chapters and lessons. I highly recommend it.
    The RZA on The Tao of Wu
    By Gilbert Cruz Thursday, Oct. 15, 2009

    Emerging in the mid-1990's, New York City's Wu-Tang Clan proved to be one of the decade's most intense, wacky and essential rap groups. The nine-emcee Clan was led by the RZA, who in recent years has gone on to release several solo albums and film scores (Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill). His latest project, a book released this month called The Tao of Wu, is half-memoir, half-spiritual guide. The rapper and entrepreneur, whose real name is Robert Diggs, talked to TIME about the history of hip-hop, cult films and his love of Broadway.

    The rapper and entrepreneur, whose real name is Robert Diggs, talked to TIME about the history of hip-hop, cult films and his love of Broadway.

    In The Tao of Wu, you lay out your very unique worldview. I lost track of all the elements involved, which include traditional Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, chess and numerology. If you only had a minute to tell someone about your beliefs, what would you say?

    First of all, the tao means the way. And there are many ways to get to a place as long as you stay on the path. So if you want to travel the way of Jesus, the way of the Prophet Mohammed, if you want to travel the way of Buddha or Bodhi Dama, if you want to travel the way of a great chess master like Kasparov or Fisher —any way you can reach self-enlightenment or self-worth works. Many great men have left paths for us. In the end, we are all searching for the same thing. We're just taking different routes to the same location.

    You turned 40 this summer, and you've witnessed essentially the entire history of hip-hop. What stands out?

    When I first heard hip-hop, in 1976, there were maybe only 500 people that could do it. Now you got 5 million people. First it was about partying and fun. Then it went to a way to express oneself without having to physically express it. Then after a while, hip-hop became more socially conscious. Then it went to the celebrity [phase]. And now we're in a state where it's unbalanced. A lot of artists don't necessarily have the same substance as they once did. I'm 40, and I went through hip-hop. I lived it. These kids just learned it. They learned it from TV. Their neighborhoods aren't the same as our neighborhoods were. Their problems aren't the same as our problems were. They have a black president! The whole concept of hip-hop has changed. It's become a commodity.

    See TIME's Top 10 Grammy Moments.

    One of the passages in your book talks about the anime movie DragonBall Z, and how it represents the journey of the black man in America. And it struck me because in Inglorious Basterds, there's a scene about how King Kong represents the plight of the black man in America. Is there another movie or book or piece of art that you think represents what African Americans have had to go through?

    Tarantino and I agree on King Kong. I'll give you another movie. John Carpenter's They Live. That's perfect for our times right now. That's where we're at. I saw that movie and it really made me think. I started bugging out in the mall. I just felt like, wow, there was something about that movie that was real. I got locked up like two hours [after watching it]; I was drunk and acting crazy.

    Who are some musicians that you listen to whom your fans probably wouldn't expect?

    You know who I love? I love the Bee Gees, and I love Barry Gibb and Andy Gibb. I listen to them almost every day. The arrangements were so simple, right? But they had a taste of complication about them. Grease? I watch that film over and over. The hardcore part of me, people know. But the corny side of me is what they wouldn't know. They wouldn't know that I would go by myself to watch a movie like — what's that one with John Travolta where he dresses like a woman?

    Hairspray?

    Hairspray, yeah. Can you imagine me in a theater watching Hairspray? But I really appreciate choreographed music.

    Is there a certain scene in the movie you love?

    Every musical performance in there was great. The only one I didn't like was where John Travolta danced with Christopher Walken. That's the only scene that was a little shaky, with the two guys dancing. But to me, every scene, every dance, every lyric resonated. That and Dreamgirls —those movies are modern masterpieces. A lot of people don't recognize the power of Broadway. When I was first successful, about 1998, when I was living very wealthy, I was always going to Broadway shows. From Chicago, to Rent, to Ragtime.

    Would you ever do a Broadway show?

    Oh yeah. I got one ready! That's one of my dreams, to get Wu-Tang on Broadway. I have two entertainment dreams I have to live out. One is to play Carnegie Hall with an orchestra, and me on piano. The other is to have a play based on Wu-Tang music. The 36 Chambers needs to be on Broadway, baby!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    MTV interview

    It's short, like a music vid...
    RZA Didn't Always Have A Map: The MTV News Quote Of The DayPosted 33 minutes ago by Kyle Anderson in Music

    "We all travel a way or path in life. What I did in this book, we broke it down to seven pillars of wisdom of different things that happened in my life that brought me to the fruition of the man I am. I think all of us are striving to be better men, and sometimes we don't have a map. Going to the 'hood, we just know the 'hood talk and the 'hood mentality or the American video game mentality. As the great, late Mr. Magic — rest in peace, Mr. Magic — would say, when his show would go off, he would say, 'A fool can learn from his own mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.' That's what this book is."

    -Rapper, producer and actor RZA, discussing the meaning and inspiration behind his new book "The Tao of Wu." The just-released tome is part autobiography, part philosophical think piece and 100 percent Wu. RZA spoke to MTV News at a book signing in New York last night, and he had plenty to share about inspiration, family and hip-hop. "My call was the call to hip-hop. It happened to me when I was 7 or 8 years old. Hearing [the Beastie Boys lyrics] 'Dip, dip, dive/ So socialize/ Clean out your ears and open your eyes.' Back then, it was just a rhyme, but listen to those words: 'Socialize' with people, 'clean out your ears and open your eyes.' See things for what they are. It's a message right there. At the time, it was just a message and a vibe. But it called me into this world of hip-hop. Through hip-hop, my whole family was saved. Many families were saved. Look at the Wu-Tang Clan, and all our families were saved."
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    response

    hey gene, with all due respect, i couldn't really follow the interview as RZA's responses often seemed like rambling without coherent logic...

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    What didn't make sense?

    The Bee Gees part? Yea, that totally threw me off too.

    Here's another. It's a vid of a Stephen Colbert interview.

    Stephen Colbert Interviews RZA About The Tao of Wu (Video)
    October 15, 2009 10:48 a.m. by Andrew Winistorfer
    The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

    Stephen Colbert interviewed Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA on his show last night, asking the Clan swordsman about The Tao of Wu, his new book. There's some laughs at the beginning where Colbert asks RZA if it's possible that Colbert is in the Wu without knowing, and there's also some talk of supreme mathematics, which I can't see happening on about any other show. The Tao of Wu is out now.
    Gene Ching
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    And if you're looking for something to do tonight in LA

    The RZA Reads at The Grove
    Wu-Tang Clan’s the RZA presents Tao of Wu tonight at 7:30 at Barnes & Noble at the Grove. The book focuses on major moments in the RZA’s life, both good (a record deal) and bad (a potential prison sentence). From the publisher: “His points of view are always surprising and provocative, and reveal a profound, genuine, and abiding wisdom—consistently tempered with humor and peppered with unique, colloquial phraseology. It is a spiritual memoir as the world has never seen before, and will never see again.”

    From the B&N site:
    Oct. 20, 2009
    Tao of Wu
    The RZA
    Author Event (Other)
    Tuesday October 20, 2009 at 7:30 PM.The Grove at Farmers Market
    The Grove at Farmers Market, 189 Grove Drive Suite K 30, Los Angeles, CA 90036
    323-525-0270

    If you go, tell RZA Gene sent ya!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    Youtube interview

    Oct. 20 2009 - 7:08 pm
    RZA: Kung-Fu Master

    Incredibly, you are about to watch RZA, the 40-year-old mastermind behind the Wu-Tang Clan, kick a Six Million Dollar Man jigsaw puzzle cannister off my head.

    Riverhead Books recently published The Tao of Wu, the RZA’s new manifesto, and graciously offered True/Slant the opportunity to interview him at lower Manhattan’s USA Shaolin Temple. This is where, under the tutelage of Shi Yan Ming, he honed the martial-arts skills frequently alluded to in his lyrics and book.

    Here in part one, RZA discusses kung fu and Ol’ Dirty ******* before totally getting all chop-socky on my jigsaw puzzle.
    Here's the vids:
    RZA Kung Fu

    RZA: ‘Me Being a Geek Helped Hip-Hop Grow’

    Riverhead Books recently published The Tao of Wu, the RZA’s new manifesto, and graciously offered True/Slant the opportunity to interview him at lower Manhattan’s USA Shaolin Temple. This is where, under the tutelage of Shi Yan Ming, the Wu-Tang Clan leader honed the martial-arts skills frequently alluded to in his lyrics and the book.

    In part one, RZA kicks a Six Million Dollar Man jigsaw puzzle off my head. Here in the second part, RZA admits to being a geek, discusses how his man-crush on the Green Hornet led him to terrorize pals, and explains why he’d rather raise nerds than gangstas.
    RZA: 'Me Being a Geek Helped Hip-Hop Grow'
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    We got Tao of Wu

    Enter for your chance to win an AUTOGRAPHED edition of The Tao of Wu by the RZA. Contest ends 6:00 p.m. PST on 11/11/09. Good luck everyone!
    Gene Ching
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    Another interview...

    ...and we're dropping my interview later today. Stay tuned.

    Rapper RZA’s ‘Tao of Wu’ packs a wow for readers
    By Martin Caballero
    Thursday, October 22, 2009 - Updated 17h ago

    The kung fu fighters of the Shaolin temple had a wise abbot to lead them.

    Hip-hop’s Wu-Tang Clan has its own abbot: The RZA.

    The Wu, the nine-member crew from Staten Island, N.Y., that dominated the mid-’90s hip-hop scene, created a rap style that mirrored kung fu films, weaving spiritual lessons into aggressive lyrics and gritty beats.

    “When Wu-Tang first came out, people said, ‘Do you think you’ll sell 10 million copies like MC Hammer?,’ ” said RZA, born Robert Diggs.“I would say, ‘Well, MC Hammer sold 10 million records, but that’s 10 million people that he left sleeping. If we sell one million copies, then that’s one million people who woke up.’ ”

    Now RZA is offering more wisdom in “The Tao of Wu” (Riverhead Books, $24.94). The book, RZA’s second, is equal parts spiritual manifesto and revealing autobiography. It delves deep into the influences - from kung fu flicks and numerology to Eastern mysticism and Islam - that permeate Wu-Tang’s music and is highlighted by specific incidents from RZA’s life, such as the time he narrowly escaped eight years in jail on an attempted murder charge and the 2004 death of Clan member Ol’ Dirty *******.

    “Looking back now, things definitely surprised me,” RZA said by phone from Los Angeles. “It’s like one of Inspectah Deck’s lyrics. ‘What I know now, I wish I knew then, I might have had a clue of what to do then.’ But the beauty of it is, you live through it and understand it, and you tell somebody else so maybe they can skip through it. You still have your own trials and tribulations to go through, but it’s like a quiz. If you know a few answers, you can get a higher result on your test.”

    Aside from philosophy, the book chronicles RZA and Wu-Tang’s rise to fame along with the personal troubles and business missteps from which the group never collectively recovered. RZA vividly recalls the fateful 1996 storm that flooded the basement studio in which he created landmark albums by members GZA, Ol’ Dirty ******* and Raekwon, destroying thousands of hours of material.
    (Story continues below)

    “If that wouldn’t have happened, I probably wouldn’t have burned out that fast,” said RZA, who often spent days at a time in the studio engineering, producing and mixing. “I probably would have made it through the whole Clan with solo albums produced by me. But I was burnt out because I wouldn’t stop. I was trying to live up to a strong obligation and keep it going. If not for the flood, some of the later product that people say had lost the luster would have had it because it was all already made.”

    Today, RZA is focused more on his own career and it’s paid off. He scored Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” and acted in Judd Apatow’s “Funny People.”

    But RZA, as his book shows, has not forsaken his role as the Wu-Tang’s abbot.

    “Rap music is in the hands of corporations and it doesn’t belong to the culture of hip-hop like it did before,” RZA said. “But this book is going to permeate beyond rap music. This is a book that’s good wisdom for any time and any age. Twenty years from now a young man can read this and gain some insight and get a handle on certain things in life.”
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    By later today...

    ...I meant within the hour.

    RZA on The Tao of Wu
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Another interview...

    This is a long one, too long to cut&paste without breaking it into 4 or 5 parts, so I'm just going to link it.
    RZA
    by Nathan Rabin October 21, 2009
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  12. #12
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    RZA on Tavis Smiley

    You can see the whole PBS interview here.
    Gene Ching
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  13. #13
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    rza is really pumping this book. every channel i turn on one of these talk shows i see "the razor"

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    Indeed.

    It's a pretty massive book tour. I'm just glad because it gave me an excuse to rap with him about it.

    RZA was on Bonnie Hunt on Monday. I couldn't find a clip but here's something from her site:
    RZA ("Tao of Wu"/"Funny People"): This Grammy-winning musician and founder of the Wu-Tang Clan has a new book explaining Wu-Tang's philosophy and world view. You won't want to miss Bonnie's fascinating interview with this multi-talented fellow.
    Gene Ching
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  15. #15
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    thats what actually prompted me to post gene, i was channel surfing and saw rza on the bonnie hunt show and i was like oh sh!t they are really pushing this book. guess the first one did well.

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