October 18, 2012


5 Things We Learned From RZA's 'New York Times' Profile

Frazer Harrison
Frazer Harrison

For Wu-Tang Clan fans, a recent profile of RZA in the New York Times is a must read. The article focuses on Bobby Digital's new film, The Man With the Iron Fists, but also delves into other issues as well, including RZA's reaction to his incredible success in the early- and mid-90s and a possible Wu reunion. Here are five things we learned.

RZA had a very healthy ego in the 1990s:  "I thought I was the greatest thing on earth," RZA said. "And you couldn’t say that I wasn’t. I wouldn’t take no for an answer."

He turned down $500,000 for the distribution rights to a Bobby Digital movie, which he spent $400,000 filming: Among the projects from that period that he says he couldn’t resist was a film that he directed, starred in and paid for ($400,000) based on his superhero alter ego, Bobby Digital. RZA said that one studio offered him about $250,000 to distribute the movie, and another $500,000, but he had his heart set on $1 million. 

"At this time, I think I was more conceited," he said as he sampled from plates of red velvet waffles, onion rings and a vegetarian Reuben sandwich. "I’m not going to take no 250, 500 grand from nobody, during this bloom of my life. I played hardball and the deal walked away."

He was once the house guest of Hostel director Eli Roth's parents: In 2006, RZA found an ally in the horror filmmaker Eli Roth ("Hostel," "Cabin Fever") when the two were briefly stranded in snowy Boston after returning from an Icelandic film festival hosted by Quentin Tarantino. Mr. Roth’s parents, who lived in the Boston area, took RZA in for the night. From that point on, RZA said he and Mr. Roth were 'hangout buddies.'"

Russell Crowe calls RZA "Bobby Diggs" and considers him a friend: "As friends, we talk," Mr. Crowe (who appeared with RZA in American Gangster and The Next Three Days) wrote in an e-mail. "It is no effort for me to give a friend advice. Film has many gods and you have to understand, as a director, you will be required to please and appease them all."

That said, Mr. Crowe wrote that he wanted to make the film "because I believe in Bobby Diggs," and because he had given him his word that "as a brother that I would turn up when he needed me to."

In a follow-up email, RZA also said the Wu-Tang Clan reunion is dependent on him having complete control: A lot of people don’t know this about Wu-Tang, it started from a focused mind… They agreed, to me, to be a dictator for five years. And in those five years, it’s considered some of our best work. The work continued on, with Wu-Tang Forever, but that was the first democratic album. And then after that, it kept getting more and more – "Well, it’s your album, what do you want to do? You want to hire P. Diddy? Whatever you want to do, help yourself. It’s your [thing]." When before it was like, “No, no – it’s what I say." But I would say, if we get one more shot of me being completely trusted as the driver of the ship, I think we could give the world one more record, maybe.

Be sure to check out RZA's duet with the Black Keys from The Man With the Iron Fists soundtrack, a song that Fuse exclusively premiered last week.