Mastermind of the Wu Tang Clan, rapper, producer, director, actor, businessman, author, meditation guru and all-round hero, we’re yet to find anything that the eternally wise RZA can’t do. Here are some gems we learnt while chatting with him about his latest directorial feature, stylish heist movie Cut Throat City, set in New Orleans just after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
He roped in George Harrison’s son for the Cut Throat City score
Dhani Harrison and RZA have been mates for over a decade. They’re so tight that Dhani was even at RZA’s wedding. “I love his creativity,” says RZA. “He has some of the most coolest, unique instruments and he just has all these crazy sounds. He’s a smart, smart guy and you can imagine the things that he got from his pops, but he’s such a great musician.”
So how did he end up actually working on the movie? “I invited him over to watch an early screening of the film and he enjoyed it and he said he would love to score it. He said something that was really interesting, he said ‘I want to try to find the sound of the hurricane.’ I was like, ‘whoa’. When he said that, I told the producers ‘we got to hire this guy, he’s going in deep!”.
He’ll always be in awe of his movie mentor Jim Jarmusch
RZA is the first to admit that he owes a lot to cult filmmaker Jim Jarmusch – who has his own New Orleans movie in 1986’s black and white jailbreak comedy, Down By Law. “Jim is one of my inspirations,” states RZA. “He started my whole Hollywood career. He came to me and gave me a chance to score his movie Ghost Dog. He put me in a small scene in the film and I got bit right there!” Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll notice a number of homages to Down By Law in Cut Throat City. “I’ve seen Down By Law many times – I’m a big fan of Tom Waits as well,” he says of the film’s star. “There’s at least two setups in my film that’s like my version of a Jim Jarmusch shot.”
He’s optimistic about the US election
RZA tells us he’s spiritual, not political, but even so, how does he feel about the upcoming US election? “I’m bedazzled!” he announces. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?! “It’s gonna be a good thing,” he reasons.
“I’m very optimistic. I think that this beautiful country is evolving and it’s always been evolving, but the pace of it has been inching and instead of taking baby steps we need to take some leaps and I think it’s time for us to take some leaps.” Fellow hip hop titan Kanye West has announced plans to stand for President – will RZA be following in his footsteps and also making a run for POTUS one day? “For now, [just] President of the Wu Tang Productions!” he laughs.
He’s spent lockdown working on new music with Interpol’s Paul Banks
In 2016 RZA and Interpol frontman Paul Banks released ‘Anything But Words’, their debut album as Banks & Steelz, having first started making music together in 2011. RZA reveals that this summer’s stay at home orders have inspired the pair to fire up the project again
“Well, that’s something that happened during quarantine, me and Paul have been sending each other tracks,” he says. “We got a song that we just finished, right before this movie campaign, called ‘The Pains of Love’. And I think in COVID, the song is funny, because the pains of love is something that we’re willing to endure. And that’s people who are locked up with each other and can’t go out for months. Can you endure that?” He smirks. “The joy of love? Well how about the pain of love?!”
He’s in the new ‘Minions’ movie – and he’s pretty hyped
Originally scheduled for release this past summer, Minions: The Rise of Gru – otherwise known as Minions 2 – sees RZA doing a spot of voice acting alongside a star-studded cast that includes Steve Carell, Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, Russell Brand, Danny Trejo and Julie Andrews. “I’m not a Minion,” he explains of his role in the eagerly-awaited computer animated sequel.
“I’m a character that comes in on this journey that these guys are going through.” Rather than just another notch on the IMDB page, RZA took the role for his kids. “I just remember my son when Despicable Me came out and him being a big fan of it and the toy being in the house,” he explains. “For me to get a chance to be a part of that and for him one day to look at it and go ‘Oh, wait, it’s my dad’s voice’… Some things we get lucky with. I feel like it was lucky for the producers of Minions to reach out and to have me lend my talent to it.”
Cut Throat City is available on Digital Download now