An Instagrammer who encourages meditative reflection, a leader and group producer of nine musicians from New York since the 90s, and the orchestrator of the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s ode to samurai and grindhouse cinema. What do these have in common? Simple. It’s a 51-year-old rapper and emerging Hollywood mainstay, RZA (pronounced like ‘riz-uh’) or Robert Fitzgerald Diggs.
Wu-Tang’s climb and fall-apart
Firstly, let’s talk about the Wu-Tang clan. If you haven’t heard of them, you should have. They are a very popular music group from New York that was formed in 1992. There were nine members of the Wu-Tang clan when it was first established: Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, U-God, Inspectah Deck, Masta Killa, GZA, and of course RZA. They were a huge cultural phenomenon, famous for combining their adoration of Asian culture with their passion for music, more specifically rap. They made one of the most famous and celebrated rap songs of all time, C.R.E.A.M, which was a statement about the difficulty of growing up in impoverished parts of New York C.R.E.A.M standing for ‘cash rules everything around me’. The group has had an incredible cultural impact, with each of their members having successful solo releases and their merchandise being everywhere to this day. You can learn more about Wu-Tang Clan and its importance on their news website here. I’m going to be focusing on RZA, who now hops on the mic to help clear minds everywhere.
If you check out his Instagram, you may conceive some, let’s say, interesting perceptions about RZA. Looking at the posts of this member of a famous rap group may leave you scratching your head, but in a good way (if that even makes sense). He is inherently spiritual and reflective and shows this via his posts and writings. He often posts people taking part in spiritual and meditative actions and enjoys conversing with his fans, sharing advice on being more in touch with oneself. He even recently released an EP of songs featuring guided meditation, called Guided Explorations. Yes, really. I’ll be the first to say; there’s nothing like having a hard-boiled old-school New York rapper telling you how to free your mind (I personally recommend the song Kill the Noise, it’ll change your life). However, RZA is far from just a spirit liberator these days.
RZA’s Outings in Hollywood
RZA has done so many things in his career. This includes working with some fantastic people to improve some amazing movies. He has worked with Quentin Tarantino on the movies Kill Bill: Volume. 1 and Kill Bill: Volume. 2, where he was responsible for orchestrating the powerful soundtrack on movies that definitely played into his samurai and martial arts interests. He also recently worked on the action movie Nobody, which features Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell, a former assassin. However, this time, he had the opportunity to test his acting chops in front of the camera, starring as Harry Mansell, Hutch’s brother (I don’t see the resemblance, personally). He has also worked on other movies, both behind and in front of the camera. He is a pretty versatile guy, to say the least.
RZA’s thoughts about black and white America
RZA’s story doesn’t end there, though, as he is quite outspoken on his issues with America and race relations. He often expresses this through songs even to this day, similar to how Wu-Tang Clan did and continues to do. Just recently, RZA voices his opinions on American politics and politicians and how ‘they try to maintain control of your throne’ in his song with North Kingsley, False Idols. This song is an example of his political and social activism, and how he stays true to his passions and goals both personally and those for his country.
Overall, I think we should advertise and strive to mirror people like RZA, who set an example of what someone with influence should make of themselves. He was able to rise to fame with his friends in his over three-decade run in Wu-Tang Clan but was also able to branch out and create his own personal successes through his solo music, filmmaking, and more. And all this while staying true to his values and standing for what he believes in.