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#Dazed93: RZA's ghetto symphonies

The Wu-Tang boss Brings Da Ruckus for the Clan's 20th birthday

Taken from the August issue of Dazed & Confused:

After Tommy Boy Records failed to turn his alter ego 'Prince Rakeem' into a chart star, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs went back to his Staten Island basement and started plotting a brutal revenge on the music industry. He re-emerged in 1993 as the RZA, de facto leader of a ramshackle crew of New York wideboys called the Wu-Tang Clan. Their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), changed the fabric of hip hop, mixing martial-arts soundbites with murderous street-talk and chopped-up soul samples. Two decades later, the Wu-Tang Killa Beez are still bringing da ruckus across the globe.

"I became the RZA at 23. At that age I was supposed to be having fun, chasing girls and all that. I wound up not chasing girls for years. I started Wu-Tang in 1993 and it took me until 1997 to enjoy our success because I stayed in the basement, studying, becoming the RZA.

It’s been said I create ghetto symphonies. Maybe that’s because I take sounds and noises that are not totally related and make them into a phrase. On ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ you’ll hear a garbage can mixed with finger snaps and a piano in a whole different key. Then you have the distorted bass which is really the only thing that is in sync. You have all this going on then I sampled a CD skipping and used that for my horns! D-D-D-D-D-D-D! I didn’t have a horn so I did that. People went, ‘He makes music outta noise!’

There were no DVDs in those days, so my idea was that people would get these one-hour audio movies. I did the whole thing with a movie concept. The Wu albums give you visions. Some people listen to music and want to dance. You listen to my shit and you’re seeing it and hearing it.

I like making albums in one creative force. You got to be in sync with that shit, you got to come and spend months with me and zone in. Raekwon and Ghost, we spent months in that basement eating turkey burgers. Me and GZA played hundreds of games of chess before we made the songs for Liquid Swords. Instead of using kung fu to introduce his stuff I used Japanese samurai, because GZA’s style is like, one fucking slice and you’re dead. There’s always going to be someone in your crew that’s the best at something. If you play with a basketball team, there’s always going to be one guy who’s better than the whole team no matter how hard these other guys practise. But he might not be the best fighter, nah mean? What I tried to do was see things that I was good at and put ’em to use, and practise on the things I wasn’t too good at.”