The Wu-Tang Clan hip hop mega star and Ballantine’s ambassador dials in as he makes the journey through the desert from Los Angeles to Las Vegas… Read an excerpt of the interview below.

Read the full story in HUNGER Issue 30 Where’s Your Head At? Purchase, here

“Fishy, fishy, in a brook, daddy caught him by the hook”, RZA recites over the phone. He’s talking about his earliest memory of finding rhythm in words when he was handed a book of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes as a kid and it sparked something in his brain. ‘Fishy, Fishy, In a Brook’ was part of the anthology that became a cornerstone of most early memories, even to this day, publishing some of the greatest hits like Humpty Dumpty, Pat-A-Cake, and Peter Piper. Yet it’s not a reference you’d expect that the rapper and Wu-Tang Clan founder would bring up, nor is it the origin story you’d think RZA would have. When you think of the artist, it’s less “fishy, fishy” and more “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin’ to fuck with!” But, as the world has come to discover, he’s a man who’s built on the unexpected.    

We only hover on the conversation of nursery rhymes for the best part of fifteen seconds, but how else do you set about introducing a man like RZA? Architect of hip hop, eminent scorer of films, ballet writer, director, actor, producer, Ballantine’s ambassador, father, son, and the holy spirit of modern day rap. He’s a man whose interviews always start with: “RZA needs no introduction”. And it’s true. Anything you don’t know about the man, on your head be it. And if you have no clue who he is, it’s not just him you need to get to know, it’s a multisphere of music that excavated the ground, layed the concrete, built the foundations, and the house of hip hop as we know it. Many musicians, who younger generations would consider to be the greatest of all time, have paid their respects to Wu-Tang and RZA – A$AP Rocky and Rihanna even named their first-born son after the 54-year-old. 

RZA’s level of esteem and respect within a multitude of creative industries goes deeper than the art, though. In fact, he says it would. There’s a connection to creativity, a wisdom around what it means to be an artist that could perhaps begin to explain the level at which RZA has produced varying work through his life. A few pages into his books, The Wu-Tang Manual and The Tao of Wu – philosophical insights into the lore of the group’s thinking and a guide to how to achieve it – will give a glimpse into his mind. Because what RZA started wasn’t just hip hop, it was a movement, a way of thinking, an understanding that you can hear a nursery rhyme and one day become one of the – if not the – greatest rappers in history. So how do you introduce RZA? Well, you have to let the music do the talking.  

As we speak, RZA’s on his way from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to rehearse for the upcoming Wu-Tang Clan residency which, at the time of writing, has been hailed a triumph…  

Read the full story in HUNGER Issue 30 Where’s Your Head At? Purchase, here

WriterRy Gavin