RZA, Leader of the swarm: Words with The Abbot [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – After a full show with the Wu-Tang Clan at the Orpheum Theatre and an in depth interview with Vancouver icon Nardwuar, RZA hit the stage at Vancity’s favourite spot for late night hip-hop, Fortune Sound Club. An epic night for those who got to experience the RZA, U-God, Cappadonna, Masta Killa and Mathematics put on an intimate after-party show for a lengthy two hours, where they eventually made way to Fortune’s green room after, after party space.
Our West Coast editor caught the RZA in the corner office (shout out to Rob RIZK) cutting some buds, kicking back with U-God and some ladies. In the way of interviews, there’s a fish and then there’s a BIG fish, so naturally, the 3 a.m. chat with KassKills commenced and HipHopCanada caught a few words with The Abbot himself. Find out what puts RZA in the same category as Marvin Gaye, who he thinks compares to Wu-Tang and his role in the Clan, after the jump.
“Nobody tops Wu-Tang. I’m glad to be apart of it but even if I wasn’t apart of it I would feel the same way.” – RZA
Interview conducted by KassKills for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: You just finished a show and an after-party set, thanks for giving me a minute.
RZA: I like your lotus flower tattoo.
HipHopCanada: I heard you talking about the lotus earlier with Nardwuar, “from the mud comes great beauty” or something. You said it way better.
RZA: Yeah… [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: I wanna talk about 36 Chambers right quick. Over 20 years since it dropped and you’re still selling out shows and making new fans from that album – it’s a classic. What makes a classic album to you?
RZA: I think a classic album captures a moment in time as well as a vibration, nahmean? So I think 36 Chambers you feel a moment in time but it’s also a vibration of something original. I think that energy, when you discover it – you could discover it when it came out or 20 years later or even a hundred years later, it still has a vibration about it that resonates. It’s like, sometimes I be findin’ Marvin Gaye songs that I didn’t know and I’m like “wow, I love that song” but it was before I was born. So, music is like that. I think 36 Chambers is in that category. No artist ever wanna brag about themselves but Rolling Stone did write that 36 Chambers was in the top 100 or something albums in history.
*Editor’s note: Wu-Tang – Enter The 36 Chambers was placed at #387 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of all Time, #29 on their 100 Best Debut Albums of all Time and ranked #29 out of 100 Best Albums of the Nineties.
HipHopCanada: Wu-Tang has been called the greatest rap group of all time. Do you feel like anyone has been able to or even can compete?
RZA: You know, I don’t want to be egotistical or nothing but the answer is no. Nobody tops Wu-Tang. I’m glad to be apart of it but even if I wasn’t apart of it I would feel the same way.
HipHopCanada: You’ve been referred to as the leader of Wu-Tang and even on stage during your shows it seems like you take on this role, sort of like a conductor. What is the group dynamic in that respect?
RZA: They call me The Abbot and they chose me to be The Abbot, nahmean? That’s an important position to play. Me and Ghostface was talking about it today while we was exercising he was like “Yo, we hold a lot of weight but you hold A LOT of weight. You The Abbot. And you know, you gotta handle that.” [Laughs]
HipHopCanada: Is that a heavy weight to carry?
RZA: You know what? They say that God never gives no man no burden he can’t carry.
HipHopCanada: My favourite character you play is Samurai Apocalypse from Californication. And I also hear you’re taking on a new role in a television series. How did you start acting and are any of your characters based off you personally?
RZA: I think, when I’m acting…if you know me, you know I’m acting. Acting is something I became attracted to because there was a movie producer named Harvey Weinstein and he saw me in Coffee and Cigarettes and he thought I had presence, so he started giving me chances to work as an actor. I really enjoy it, it’s like a whole bunch of expressions that I normally probably wouldn’t do. Like to me, Samurai Apocalypse is hilarious, nahmean? He’s stupid…
HipHopCanada: Is there any part of that character that you can relate to?
RZA:That’s like me when I was like 18 or 20 – I was so conceded.
HipHopCanada: Before our time is up tell us one thing about the upcoming Wu album A Better Tomorrow.
RZA:We all need A Better Tomorrow…
HipHopCanada: Mos def. Thanks. It’s been a pleasure.